Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 2009

Icelandic Association of Chicago Volume No. 11 Issue No.6 May 2009

From the President’s desk

Iceland is moving on with a new government

After the “Cutlery Revolution” in Iceland, the government stepped down and we now have a new left wing government. The international media reported on the event but was most interested in our new prime minister being the first gay woman prime minister in the world. You got to hand it to Iceland; somehow we always manage to make it to number one for one thing or another. If everything else fails, we can always calculate our accomplishments per-capita. As for the financial crisis, we don’t have to use that measurement, the economic situation is very bad in Iceland at the moment. Lena and I are visiting the “old country” in July and it will be interesting to compare to our last visit back in November, shortly after all the banks failed and people were just starting to realize the consequences.

The worldwide financial recession also impacted our organization. It was the main reason we scaled down our Þorrablót to a home-style event. We did, however, have a great Þorrablót, some say the best we ever had: Good turnout, excellent food, great music by Bjössi from the band Greifarnir in Iceland, fun singing led by our great Swany, and energetic dancing by everyone. We ended up making a net income of $200 but, unfortunately, got hit by some bad news. Our gracious hosts, Stella and Miguel Solis, discovered the following morning their hard wood floors were severely damaged. Upon reviewing the situation, the board agreed the right thing to do was to share responsibility and take part in the cost of fixing the floors. The board decided our organization will pay 2/3 of the cost, not to exceed $1,000. The damage is estimated at about $1,500. We’ll learn from this experience, move on, and recover as quickly as possible. Few of us have made a small donation and I’m asking any of you who can, to help out, and send a check to Larry. Anything will help: $25, $50, or more if you can. Contributions will be tracked separately on the books and reported at the General Meeting in October.

Moving on to lighter notes: Summer is here and with summer we have Iceland’s Independence Day, which we’ll celebrate by the Lake at “The Point”, Saturday 13th of June. We’re importing Icelandic Hot Dogs and I hope all of you are able to come and enjoy an afternoon, picnic style, in a good company.

See you soon – Gleðilegt Sumar

Einar Steinsson, President

From the Editor

Some things are nearly impossible to shake off. For instance it’s impossible to shake one’s background or roots off. It’s easy to pretend to be someone we’re not but on the inside we are who we are. I, for example, am just a simple girl from a simple little village in Iceland, where everyone knows everyone’s business, and when at the store, it’s certain you’ll personally know at least 99% of the customers. The 1% you don’t know is most likely a tourist. Still, after living 4 ½ years here in Cary, I look around in the store, at the Post Office, and wherever I go, to see if I recognize someone. It rarely happens, but when it does, it makes me happy. What happened few weeks ago though, I could never have imagined. I was working my evening shift at the restaurant when I got a table of ten. After all were seated and I’d taken orders I went to see if anybody needed anything. As I’m walking away from the table I hear one of the teenage girls who belonged to the group, calling out for her AMMA. Hearing this I came to a screeching halt and asked the girl what she’d just said. She answered she’d just called out for her “amma, which in Icelandic means Grandmother”. I said I was aware of the meaning for I was an Icelander.

It turned out the amma in the group was a second generation of Icelandic immigrants who originally moved to Canada in the late 1800’s. The amma and I greeted each other with a handshake and instead of introducing myself as Swany, I gave her my real name-Svanfríður. A loud silence followed. Then the amma looked at me and said: That’s my name too, Svanfríður! To say the least, we were all stunned. This is the first time I meet my namesake and the other Svanfríður hadn’t met a single Icelander for 53 years. To meet an Icelander unexpectedly hardly ever happens, but to meet one at a little restaurant in a little town in Illinois, who bears the same name as you, is probably less likely than winning the lotto. If I hadn’t been this stunned and surprised I’d have recruited her to the IAC. If she comes in again, I definitely will!


The 17th of June, in the Park, with Icelandic Hot Dogs!

We'll be celebrating Iceland's Independence Day '17di júní', Saturday June 13, in Burnham Park around Promontory Point, known locally as The Point. Please join us for a picnic style festival and a fun afternoon by the Lake. The IAC will offer hotdogs from Iceland, Icelandic style. Otherwise, the event is a BYO so please bring drinks and other food or plate you'd like to share. Also, make sure to bring other picnic gear: blankets, lawn chairs, sunscreen, umbrellas... We'll meet at 3PM and, of course, we'll have a parade with flags and balloons. A beach with a life guard is close by for those who want to bring swim suits and go for a dive. Sign up by emailing or call 773-489-4621. Directions and Parking: The Point is off 55th Street, East of Lake Shore Drive (LSD). Use 5500 S Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637 for driving directions (; google, etc.). You’ll find a parking lot on 55th street, by Bar Loui, or you can park on the street. The walk to the Point takes about 6 minutes through a tunnel, which passes under Lake Shore Drive at the east end of 55th street. Upon emerging from the tunnel you’ll see a statue and a fountain. Turn right and walk south until you see our flag. We’ll try to find a spot as close to the field house as possible. For more information, photos, and the history of the Promontory Point, check out:

The 5th Greater Chicago Icelandic Open August 16th @ 2:30PM

Last year we sold out! We had 32 players representing various countries: Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Australia, US, Thailand, Estonia, Mexico, and Canada. First place winners were Tom Fox and Miguel Solis with the great score of 35. Guðrún Thors won the women’s longest drive; Michael Gallagher took the prize for men. Closest to the pin was won by Brandon Burk, and Tom Fox won the longest putt. No one won the ticket to Iceland for a hole in one. Maybe this year ?

The Greater Chicago Icelandic Open is a 9-hole best ball tournament in teams of two players, with many of the teams being a couple or a parent and a child. We give a trophy for first place, medals for 1st 2nd and 3rd places, plus various prizes for the Longest Drive men/women, Closest to the Pin, Longest Putt, and Hole in One. The tournament is held at Highland Woods golf course in Hoffman Estate. We already have 12 players signed up but we’ll have 32 spots total, the same as last year. If you’re interested email me at or just send your check to Larry. Play well, Einar Steinsson

Þorrablót 2010!

Yes, I know, it's only May, and lot of fun activities the association has organized before we meet again for sheep heads, rotten shark, and other delicacies! The reason I bring up Þorrablót in our spring newsletter is, we want your ideas and help to start planning for a big event, open to everyone, to be held in the city. At our last board meeting we decided to form a Þorrablót committee, which I'll be in charge of. Joni Shaw and John Hofteig already signed up but we'll need two or three more members to join us. At this time, we're most in need of suggestions for a place in the city to host the venue. Thus, if any of you have tips, please send my way. We're somewhat limited in our choice because of restrictions most places have for bringing one's own food and drinks. Another restriction would be cost, as our goal is to keep price of tickets affordable.

Kveðja, Lena

News from Vasa Park

MIDSUMMER FEST - June 28th, beginning at 2:00 and on into the evening with a bonfire. Crafts for children will be available from 3:00 - 5:00. Bring a picnic lunch or enjoy the ethnic food by our Scandinavian vendors.

SCANDINAVIAN DAY - Sunday, September 13, 2009 9 AM to 5 PM.

Icelanders have participated in this traditional day for many years. Proudly carrying our flag and singing our beautiful National Anthem in the opening ceremonies, vending some of our traditional foods and displaying our cultural accomplishments. Last year we took charge of the beverage booth, selling Icelandic water and varieties of soft drinks and we made a goodly sum for our newly formed Scholarship fund. We also had a booth in the cultural center.

This year we will "man" the beverage booth once again. We can use lots of help and your cheerful faces representing Iceland, making our booth a fun place to be on, hopefully, a warm fall day. There won't be a cultural center this year, but we can decorate our booth with things Icelandic.

Please contact Joni or Swany and let us know how you can help us. The more the merrier, you know!

Joni Shaw: 1-630-466-5555 or

New Icelandic Ambassadors to the United States & United Nations

In January, 2009, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs [MFA] announced new roles for seasoned career diplomats: Mr. Hjálmar W. Hannessson [born: 5-April-1946 in Reykjavík], Ambassador to the U.S. and Gunnar Pálsson, Ph.D. [born: 25-January-1955, Reykjavík], Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the U. N. Further information is available via links to each Embassy [ &] or by Googling each name.

Ambassador Hannesson, a university educator in Reykjavík [1969–1976], has been a career diplomat since 1976. He has Political Science degrees [B.A., 1968 & M.A., 1969] from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. He has had significant postings to NATO and Central Europe. He was Iceland’s first resident Ambassador in China and later in Canada. From 2003 until early 2009 he was Iceland’s Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the U.N. Except for, often concurrent, postings in Europe, the Caribbean, and/or South East Asia, his wife, Anna Birgisdóttir [married: 1966], and he have been resident and/or professionally active in the U.S. and Canada for most of the past forty years. He presented his credentials to our former President George W. Bush and soon thereafter officially represented Iceland at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. He has served various coalition governments; been a witness to dramatic economic, political, and societal changes; and represented Iceland in times both good and difficult. Anna and he are well-known to regular participants in the Icelandic National League of North America [], where they take a keen interest in “Western Icelanders,” the descendants of Icelandic immigrants to Canada and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. He has begun informative monthly newsletters on the Washington Embassy’s home page, with links to very relevant detail. Velkomin Hjálmar og Anna!

Ambassador Pálsson has been a diplomat since 1984. He was a journalist with Morgunblaðið [1979–1983]. His education is truly global: B.A. [1977, Politics & Philosophy] University College, Dublin; graduate study [1978, Philosophy] Karl Eberhardt Universität, Tübingen; M.A. [1979, Philosophy] University College, Dublin; and Ph.D. [1984, Political Science] University at Buffalo, New York. Married to Elín Snorradóttir, his U.N. posting is a “return-engagement,” having similarly served at the U.N. [1994–1998].

He has had postings germane to the global environment, chemical weapons, the EU, NATO, European Security & Cooperation, and Conventional Forces in Europe. Director of the MFA’s Natural & Environmental Affairs [2002–2006], he was also Chairman [2002–2004] of the Senior Arctic Officials [SAO] of the Arctic Council [], the liaison between the nations bordering Arctic waters. In 2005, Dr. Pálsson was the Chair and Editor of a definitive MFA-sponsored study, available in English translation: North Meets North: Navigation and the Future of the Arctic, easily found by Googling: North Meets North.

This more recent experience is germane to Iceland’s eventual economic recovery and sustainable vitality. Despite the dire financial and fiscal turmoil with which Iceland has been---and continues to be---beset, Iceland has tremendous economic potential: vast hydroelectric and geothermal energy resources; credible claims to contiguous areas of the North Atlantic seabed in the context of the eventual ratification of the U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty; and the very intriguing, longer-term, prospect of becoming an important Transpolar–Transshipment hub for container ship cargo traffic to/from the East [e.g., the North Siberian Coast] and to/from the Orient via the long-fabled, Northwest Passage. Made feasible by global warming, reduced Arctic ice, and continuing improvements in Arctic navigation and ship building, this would dramatically reduce in-transit time and costs associated with conventional sea routes to/from the Orient and Far East. Dr. Pálsson has a continuing interest in this matter, given Iceland’s Mid-Atlantic location and its most northerly, ice-free [year-round] sea ports. Dr. Pálsson has expertise and well-deserved international recognition germane to this intriguing, longer-term, Icelandic prospect. Velkomin Gunnar og Elín!

John Haldor Hofteig, Ph.D., IAC V.P, Scholarships & Academic Liaison

[Photos and background information courtesy of each Embassy.]

New information for the Vice Consul in Chicago

Vice Consul of Iceland in Chicago

2221 Camden Court, Suite 200, Oak Brook

Tel: 630-560-8008


The Icelandic Association of Chicago cordially invites all Icelanders, descendants of Iceland and friends of Iceland to join our organization. Please forward a copy of this Membership Form to anyone interested in joining, or provide us with that persons name and address.


Icelandic Association of Chicago

2009 Membership Form


Full Name of member/s___________________________________________________________

Name of child/children___________________________________________________________


City, State, Zip-code_________________________________________________________________________

Phone Number_____________________________ E-mail______________________________

New Member__________ Renewal Member___________

Annual Membership fees: Individual/students: $15.00, Family: $25.00

Make payable to: Icelandic Association of Chicago

Please mail your check and completed form to our Treasurer:

Lawrence O. Shaw,

147 N. Buckingham Drive

Sugar Grove, IL 60554

Farsælda Frón - The Icelandic Association of Chicago Newsletter. Editor: Svanfríður Eygló Arnardóttir-Getchell, E-mail: & Website:  Correspondence: The Icelandic Association of Chicago, Einar Steinsson President.