Voices



I'm going to wager that every one of you who has been here has stood in this spot, at the top of Skólavörðurstígur in front of Hallgrímskirkja, but not for the reason we were there this morning. Today about 300 students from Austurbæjarskóli and their parents gathered with flags and drums and fire-lit torches to march down to City Hall and demand that an important promise be kept. The city had allocated money and shown intent to turn an unused space on the school property into a community center for the kids in our neighborhood (which is basically a wide circle around the Big Church, from the town lake to the northern shore of the bay, and from Snorrabraut over towards the BSÍ bus terminal and Hjlómskálagarður park.)

Austó, as it's called, has a rich 83 year history, and was the first building in Reykjavik to be heated with then-new geothermal technology Here's an informative PDF in Icelandic with images (the school is on page 10) for those of you want to practice the language. (Wow, while looking for old photos of the school, I discovered this blog post by Roddy Fox, a geology prof at Rhodes U. in South Africa, doing research into his father's army time in Iceland during WWII. A short must-read, and once again, why I love maintaining this site!)

While the newer neighborhoods the capitol region often had community spaces incorporated into the overall design, and though culture center Hitt Húsið has been a great success for the 16-25 year olds, younger kids who live downtown don't really have anywhere safe and social to go after school. As stated on the main website for what they call Leisure Centers, these are crucial places for the children of immigrants to go and feel welcome and like they belong. Our Midtown neighborhood is (thankfully) very culturally diverse, and our kids deserve to have the city fulfil their pledge to create a proper one, and soon! (Update: our mayor Jón Gnarr and our city council chairman, Dagur Eggertsson - good looking men! - are going to make it happen! :) 

Re: building and development, today's front-page headline article is on the Icelandic Touring Association's  new idea to protect Icelandic nature via crowdfunding (like our local Karolina Fund) basically inviting businesses, individuals and of course tourists to invest in "nature passes" and thereby avoiding what's becoming a messy bureaucratic issue about how/whether Iceland should be charging for access to our most popular natural attractions. It's our responsibility to keep them pristine for all the generations to come (for example, Icelandic Eden Project, anyone?)


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