By Naresh Giangrande: What do I know? I just visited Iceland for nine days, having been asked to be a keynote speaker at a conference recently- titled a Tool kit for survival at the edge of the world. I am also one of the founders of Transition Towns. What I heard over those nine days in various contexts, was a debate about what is real wealth, and how Iceland should go forward, often expressed as: ‘we don’t want to return to living in our turf houses’. Which I took to mean we want to embrace modernity but not the bad effects of living in the modern world. Don’t we all?
What follows is a love letter. A love letter is my way of describing the incredible beauty and friendliness I experienced in Iceland and my heartfelt wish for Icelandic culture to thrive now and into the future.
1. You are living in a beautiful, very fragile ecosystem that requires extraordinary care. Care for it! My heart felt wounded every time I stepped on ground plants, it pained me. The original settlers obvious brought with them many imports like ponies and sheep that have now become indigenised Icelandic. They also cut down many trees. In such a young landscape this was probably disastrous. Such fragile, thin soils need protecting or they will (and much already has) washed away. Building soil should be a national priority. Planting trees, indigenous ones preferably, must be a way forward. It would preserve, improve, and protect the natural beauty that is one of Iceland’s real wealths.