From the President’s Desk
From now on “Members Only”!
The board met at Siggi’s house at the beginning of April. We had a very good meeting with lively debates about the future of the association and evaluating the 2004 Þorrablót. Siggi and Bonny thanks for hosting.
This year’s Þorrablót was a great success with record number of attendees. It was an honor to have the ambassador, Helgi Ágússon and his wife, Hervör Jónasdóttir, attending - they are great representatives of Iceland. They had a very good time and at the end of his speech they both sang for us and many people joined in. They said the food was the best Þorrafood they ever had and keep in mind they’ve attended lot of Þorrablóts. Later in the newsletter we have the financial results of the Þorrablót, but this year we had a record number of guests and non-members attending, which has its pros and cons. Next year we are going to scale down the Þorrablót to members only and have it at someone’s house or a small banquette hall. Everyone is interested in making the Þorrablót a more intimate event with the Icelandic food and the raffle but not importing a band. It is going to be different and hopefully a lot of fun.
The board decided to clean up the membership list to only include those who have paid membership. There is really no point in running an organization for non-members. This will streamline the operation and make it better for everyone. So if you have been receiving the newsletter even if you have not paid the membership fee, sorry, it will not happen again. But at the same time we are orchestrating a membership drive. So, if you have not paid DO IT TODAY. Mail the check to Anna Kardal @ 719 Wildflower Circle Naperville, IL 60540. The fee is $20 for individuals and $30 for family membership.
Lastly, at the meeting we looked into the future and asked ourselves a lot of good questions, such as, what is the purpose of the organization? Were should we go from here? What are our short and long-term goals? Etc. Well, we did not have all the answers so I am contemplating creating a special committee that would work on the statement of purpose for the association, as well as, long and short-term goals. If you are interested in working with us on this let me know.
“Gleðilegt Sumar” or “Happy Summer”
Einar Steinsson, President
From the Editor
The Third Chicago Major Airport – Chicago West Airport
There has been much talk regarding the proposed South Suburban Airport in Peotone. Even though it has not been as much discussed now during Blagojevich’s term there were hot debates between Governor Ryan and Mayor Daley. After I moved out further West of Chicago to Belvidere I have found out that there actually is a full size airport close to Chicago. It is Rockford Airport which not many people know about. It is about 1.5 hour away from downtown and 45-60 minutes from Schaumburg and the West Suburbs. The airport is the main hub for UPS and other cargo companies for the area. Despite being set up as a complete air terminal for commercial airlines, the only commercial airline that flies there so far is TransMeridian Airlines or TMA which is sort of a daughter company of old TWA. TMA offers very cheap fares to Orlando, Las Vegas and Puerto Rico. Plans are in way to increase the services and other airlines are looking into flying to this airport and PARKING IS FREE.
The Direction of the Association
At the last Association (IAC) meeting it was decided to reduce the size of the Þorrablót next year. The Þorrablót has traditionally been the largest event of the year. The last one was very well attended and a great success where many people outside the IAC showed up and it recieved some publicity in the local newspapers. But the argument is that Þorrablót was never meant to be a tourist attraction but mainly for the members of the IAC. But why not reach out and branch out. The problem is that to set this up takes a lot of volunteer hours and effort and usually the people that arrange everything the do not get to enjoy it since they are busy making sure everything goes smoothly.
This brings me to my next question. What is the purpose of the IAC? It started out as a chess club but has developed into an ethnic association with its own traditions. It was through the IAC that I first learned of other Icelanders and people of Icelandic descent when I first moved into the area. I soon came active within the IAC and became acquainted with other active members. The newsletter has been printed and sent out to 70 families and individual and most of them have only a very loose affiliation if none at all, to the IAC. So, who is it for? There is also a faction of the IAC that wants to branch out and join the Icelandic National League such as Jon Hofteig suggests in his piece. To do so would suggest a different purpose of the IAC that being a resource for Icelanders moving to Chicago, where it would become a vehicle to keep up affiliation with Icelanders in the whole United States.
There was some discussion on the last board meeting on this subject. There are different directions within the IAC and even within the Board and you might have different ideas. I believe we need to have a serious discussion what the purpose of this association and where we need to take it in the future if anywhere.
Hæ, hó, jibbíjei og jibbíjei, það er að koma 17di júní...
This year we're going to celebrate our national holiday in Humboldt Park, Chicago, Saturday June 19, at 3 PM. Our independence picnic will be in the same fashion as before, i.e., bring some food and beverages, lawn chairs, picnic tables, games, etc. If anyone has a portable BBQ please bring it!
Humboldt Park is located between North Avenue (North), Kedzie Avenue (West), California Avenue (East) and Division Street (South). We'll be stationed with our Icelandic flag by the Boat House West of Humboldt Park Blvd. And south of North Avenue but the boulevard runs North and South through the park. There is a small parking lot in front of the Boat House and non-permit street parking on the side streets. Please be advised that this weekend Puerto Ricans will also be celebrating their national holiday, although, in a different part of the park. To avoid traffic congestion and/or closed streets due to their festival, please use North Avenue as your connection route to Humboldt Park Blvd.
Please visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com for the history of Humboldt Park, which interestingly has a statue of Leifur Eiríksson (Leif the Lucky), who, like we all know is an Icelander and the discoverer of America! Feel free to call Lena and Einar (773-489-4621) for more information.
85th Annual General Meeting of the Icelandic National League of North America [INL of NA]
The 85th AGM of the INL of NA was held from Thursday evening, 22-April-2004, through Sunday noon, 25-April-2004, at the Gull Harbour Resort & Conference Centre on historic Hekla Island, about two-and-a-half hours north of Winnipeg on Lake Winnipeg. Hekla Island and Gimli (about an hour north of Winnipeg), settled by early Icelandic immigrants to Canada beginning in 1875, were among the earliest important fishing ports on the western shore of Lake Winnipeg. Hekla Island and the larger community of Gimli were early centers of New Iceland, enjoying considerable political autonomy until this Federal District of the Northwest Territories came under Manitoba provincial governance. Gimli became the North American headquarters for the Old Icelandic Lutheran Synod and is now best known as the venue for the very large annual Íslendingadagurinn, the Icelandic Festival held the weekend of the first Monday in August, and the site of one of the Bethel Retirement Homes. Gimli and Winnipeg, at various times, hosted several Icelandic publishing houses.
John H. Hofteig, a member of our Board, has been attending the past three INL of NA AGM’s [Hekla Island, Edmonton, and Minneapolis] as an unofficial observer from the Icelandic Association of Chicago and as a member of the Minnesota Icelandic Association. This report from Hekla Island is intended to encourage our group, once again, to join the INL in some official capacity. The INL of NA promotes cultural ties between Iceland and Western Icelandic communities in both Canada and the US. It is comprised of about a dozen chapters and a dozen affiliate organizations throughout North America, most of which are based in Canada. It does, indeed, however, have member organization from within the US as well as US-based members on its Board. The INL of NA is also affiliated with the INL of Iceland.
This year’s AGM was hosted by the Bruin Chapter, The Icelandic Association of Selkirk, Manitoba. Their Maxine Ingalls narrated a fascinating history of commercial fishing on Lake Winnipeg, which early on occupied the time, energy, and innovation of several immigrants to New Iceland. Entertainment included the Arborg, MB-based New Iceland Youth Choir and the touring Reykjavík-based adult choirs, The Past Time and Rainbow Choirs. Julíus Hafstein, a member of the Prime Minister’s staff and Director of the Government Office of Special Projects, surveyed the Centenary of Home Rule in Iceland. Begun in 1904, it represented the most dramatic societal changes leading directly to eventual sovereignty, universal suffrage, and considerable opportunities for all Icelanders.
Long-standing programmatic activities of the INL of NA include support of publications [Icelandic Canadian Magazine and Lögberg-Heimskringla], language training, the International Visits Program, the Snorri Exchange Programs, Íslendingadagurinn, a very rich website (www.inlofna.org), and frequent formal and informal contact with Icelandic communities in North America and Iceland --- both the INL of Iceland and the Government of Iceland. Newer, experimental programs include a new database to facilitate house and apartment exchange between North America and Iceland, “Homecoming 2004” Program, a guest house/meeting facility in Gimli owned by the Government of Iceland, managed by the INL of NA, additional new initiatives under the rubric of “New Directions,” and newly formed ad hoc steering committees in both Canada and the US to explore fund raising options to permit the INL to dramatically extend its programmatic outreach throughout all of North America.
The Lögberg-Heimskringla, the oldest continuous North American publication chronicling Western Icelanders, is based in Winnipeg. Its new Managing Editor, Steinþór Guðbjartsson, a seasoned Icelandic journalist, recently on the staff of the Morgunblaðið, was very active at the AGM, making it very well known that he is committed to visiting and interviewing Western Icelanders anywhere in North America, including Chicago!
The International Visits Program, with the assistance of Icelandair, various financial backers, and local participation, brings a variety of artists, musicians, authors, and others either from Iceland to North America or vice-versa. Venues typically are communities that are represented by an official member of the INL of NA willing and able to underwrite some of the local on-site costs and provide in-home accommodations. One of the goals of the proposed targeted fund raising is to enable this program to be extended to almost any Icelandic community in North America willing to brew a fresh pot of strong coffee and make kleinur, vínarterta, and pönnukökur.
The Snorri Program enjoys considerable logistic and financial assistance from the Government of Iceland and the INL’s of Iceland and North America. It is a six week-long program enabling North American youth of Icelandic descent under the age of thirty to visit Iceland, participate in total immersion in all things Icelandic, have a summer job, live with an Icelandic family, meet relatives, and participate in a final week-long group adventure tour of Iceland, capped by a reception hosted by the President of Iceland. More recently, these programs have been expanded to include Snorri West [for younger Icelanders coming to North America], and Snorri Plus [for Western Icelanders over thirty coming to Iceland for a structured two week period adapted to professional and personal interests in Iceland]. Further detail is available on its Website: www.snorri.is. As you might imagine, the program is named after Snorri, the first Icelandic and European child to be born in the New World.
“Homecoming 2004,” the newest program, will afford Snorri-like benefits to any Western Icelander able to participate in the weeklong events planned in Iceland from 22-Aug-2004 to 29-Aug-2004, overlapping with many of the traditional Snorri programs. For a limited time, Icleandair is reserving a block of tickets at favorable rates. Interested would be participants can find further information and an on-line registration application at the Snorri website.
The Government of Iceland is purchasing a condominium in Gimli, to be managed locally by the INL of NA, to be used as a guesthouse for visiting Icelandic artists and scholars, and as a venue for their further outreach to all of North America. It is hoped that this will be the first of many such venues throughout North America.
The “New Directions” is an INL of NA initiative to expand its programmatic outreach throughout all of North America. The recent Hekla Island AGM authorized ad hoc steering committees in both Canada and the United States to negotiate with suitable, established, like-minded organizations which already have tax-exempt charitable status with, respectively, Revenue Canada and the Internal Revenue Service, to use these organizations as “conduits” through which to collect targeted tax-deductible funds raised from individual and corporate donors to strengthen and broaden the programmatic outreach of the INL throughout North America. More news will be forthcoming regarding this new initiative.
While participating in the Hekla Island AGM, several attendees came up to John to offer suggestions for prospective members for our own Icelandic Association of Chicago. It seems as though everybody everywhere knows someone living in Chicago! In this regard, please notify either Einar Steinsson, our President, or John, Membership VP [Cell Phone: 847 + 493 – 9065] if you know of anyone in the Chicago metropolitan area who might be a potential new member. The more, the merrier! The INL of NA will be preparing a guide to “best practices,” compiling examples of initiatives to increase membership and participation that have worked in other INL chapters and affiliates. John will circulate the same to the group.
Another benefit of this year’s AGM was the opportunity to meet again with Almar Grímsson, the recently elected President of The INL of Iceland and a long-time shepherd of the Snorri Program. Almar, personally and with generous financial support from the Government of Iceland, is committed to traveling almost anywhere in North America to meet with and assist Western Icelandic communities and organizations this year and next, regardless of whether they are currently members or affiliates of either The INL of North America or Iceland.
The Board of the Icelandic Association of Chicago and Larry and Joni Shaw have extended an official invitation for Almar and his wife, Anna Björk, to come to Chicago the weekend of August 6th and August 7th, at which time he will bring us greetings from the INL of Iceland and the Government of Iceland. He obviously hopes to encourage us to join either or both the INL of North America and the INL of Iceland. Regardless of any collective decision regarding same, Almar is a dynamic and very effective ambassador for Iceland and you will want to put his visit on your calendar! Stay tuned for further details.
Currently, affiliate membership in the INL of NA entails an annual fee of CDN $ 100.00 and entitles the affiliate organization to have one voting delegate at AGM’s. Full membership is currently based on dues which approximate CDN $ 4.00 per member up to fifty members, and then dramatically scales down, thereafter. Some of the programs of the INL of NA are available directly or indirectly to any Western Icelandic community in North America while official member organizations are given preference to participate in specific programs. Further information regarding any aspect of the INL may be obtained from John [Cell Phone: 847 + 493 – 9065].
Letters to the Association
Icelandic Clubs Special Offer:
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Scandinavian Children's Events
To aid improved use of the Park for teaching Scandinavian culture & traditions to benefit our young folks, some have talked of an event(s) that we could sponsor bringing all five cultures together for a "hands on" learning experience". This would not be a commercial or fund raising event. Suggestions have been for a "brown bag" picnic with pop & juice available at the Park or ethnic foods @ nominal cost.
We ask each of you to consider activities of your culture (crafts, music, dance, literature, etc.) that can contribute to this goal and share with us your ideas & as possible folks who can help make it happen. Realizing all have busy schedules & commitments we ask that on line sharing be used until a meeting becomes necessary. Of course if you wish to start with a sit down meeting that will be arranged.
Thanks for your continued interest in preserving Scandinavian Culture.
Scandinavian Park, Inc. NFP
Jack Grandin, Treasurer
I am planning to Visit Iceland in September and would love to be able to talk to someone here, about where to stay and visit. While I have looked over the travel books, it seems like there is so much to see - I could stay there for months. I will be on a sheep roundup for part of the time, Reykavík, Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon, but I do have more time. I am looking for information on nice places to stay, swing dance clubs (East and West), where to buy a nice warm coat, restaurants, and helping me with some of the language. (I am trying to learn a few phrases and words) Any help you can provide would be great.
Thank you. Takk
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