Deep North Episode 25: Good Breeding

iceland sheep breeding

This April, sheep at Bergsstaðir farm in Northwest Iceland were diagnosed with the fatal degenerative disease known as scrapie. In accordance with regulations, the 700-some sheep were culled to prevent the spread of the disease to neighbouring farms. We revisit our 2022 article, Good Breeding, to see what’s being done to fight this deadly disease.

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Deep North Episode 24: Velvet Terrorism

pussy riot in iceland

Visiting the exhibition Velvet Terrorism: Pussy Riot’s Russia, you enter a dark room. You are pleasantly greeted by a man sitting at a fold-up table spread with pamphlets and copies of Maria Alyokhina’s 2017 prison memoir, Riot Days. To your right: a video of a woman in a baggy, black dress fills one wall, blonde hair curling messily out from beneath a red balaclava. Standing above a portrait of President Vladimir Putin, she carefully lifts her dress and pisses all over him.

This is the first-ever museum exhibition of Pussy Riot’s work, and it’s being held at Reykjavík’s Marshall House. Maria Alyokhina has been through much to be here. When, on February 24, 2022 President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a “special military operation” in Ukraine, Maria, a founding member of Pussy Riot, watched the announcement from a detention centre on the outskirts of Moscow. Less than a year later, she and fellow members of the feminist punk band and activist group have created a visual omnibus of their political actions, a comprehensive critique of Putin’s Russia, in Reykjavík.

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Deep North Episode 23: The Wonderer

junius meyvant

Júníus Meyvant is always impersonating other people, and all the people he impersonates are always yelling.

His father when he, Júníus, was learning to play the guitar:

“Could you play something else!?”

His grandfather, on the eve of his 90th birthday, when told he needed to evacuate his home because of an eruption:

“I’m not going anywhere!”

He, Júníus, when rousing his drowsy thirteen-year-old son in the morning:“Why are you still up!? You’re supposed to be in bed by now!?” (He’s got an offbeat sense of humour).

It’s like his family, and everyone he knows, come equipped with a rectally-installed midget fuse bound shortly to be engulfed by a flame – as if they were typecast Italian Americans starring in some loud New York sitcom. But Júníus’ people are not from the Big Apple. They hail from a small archipelago on the south coast of Iceland called the Westman Islands.

We got there by way of the ferry Herjólfur.

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Deep North Episode 22: Full Circle

circular economy iceland

On January 1, 2023, a new set of laws regulating waste management and recycling came into effect. The regulations, called The Circular Law (Hringrásarlögin), include a new recycling system, packaging fees ensuring that manufacturers and importers contribute to the cost of collection and recycling, and prohibiting many categories of waste from being incinerated or disposed of in landfills. The implementation of these changes has neither been sweeping nor instantaneous, and 2023 will see many municipalities throughout Iceland gradually adjusting to the new system.

The circular economy has existed as a concept since at least the 1970s. In contrast to a so-called linear economy, in which raw materials are manufactured into goods, sold, used, and then disposed of, a circular economy seeks to integrate recycling, waste management, and repairability into every level of the supply chain, ensuring that resources remain in circulation for as long as possible.

Policymakers, academics, and entrepreneurs increasingly agree that the circular economy is the next frontier in environmental sustainability. These are the entrepreneurs who are making the Icelandic economy circular.

Read the full story here.

Deep North Episode 21: A New Leash on Life

icelandic sheepdog

We’re on our way to meet a national pageant winner, who after a thorough examination by a qualified judge was selected as the most beautiful in all the land. The pageant winner is perhaps not quite what you would expect, however. Firstly, he’s male. Secondly, he’s three years old. Thirdly, he’s covered in a thick coat of luxurious fur. His name is Einir, and he’s an Icelandic sheepdog.

Read the full story here.

Deep North Episode 19: Nothing to Speak Of

icelandic language education

With a growing economy, Iceland is home to more foreign-born residents than ever. And although Icelandic is often described as an “impossible” language to learn, the barriers to learning Icelandic are more often social and economic. We look at the shortcomings of Icelandic as a second language education, and ask what’s to be done.

Read the whole story here.

 

Deep North Episode 18: A Diamond in the Rough

icelandic language rasmus rask

In the fall of 1813, a young, shy Danish man disembarked from a cargo sailing ship in Reykjavík harbour. His name was Rasmus Kristian Rask (1787-1832), but he was no merchant, nor was he a tourist. Short in stature and modestly dressed, his face was thin and fine-featured, long-nosed with round, clear eyes that burned with enthusiasm and intellect. Rask had been offered free passage to Iceland by appreciative Icelanders fascinated by the diminutive young Dane who so loved their language. He had come to the remote Danish colony for a two-year stay to master the language and test a theory he had devised; that Icelandic was the closest thing to an ancestor of all the other Germanic languages.

Read the full story here.

Deep North Episode 16: What a Riot

NATO protest 1949

On March 30, 1949, a large crowd convened behind a school in central Reykjavík. They were protesting the government’s decision to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organi­sation, then in its infancy. Once a sizeable throng had formed, the group marched on Alþingi, Iceland’s parliament. They were met by a group of NATO supporters who had surrounded the parliament building, in­tending to defend it. A riot erupted between the two groups, who only dispersed after police deployed tear gas. Five days later, NATO was officially formed, with Iceland among its founding members.