Monday, January 28, 2013

Westmann islands visit was full of surprises

The spirit of the inhabitants of the Westmann Islands is legendary. The long history of the islands is full of stories of daring seamen, adventurers, and entrepreneurs, and of fierce protectors of those beautiful islands that grace Iceland’s southern coast. During my visit I saw the evidence of what the islanders accomplished in the aftermath of the eruption, but I also saw first-hand the spirit of adventure and entrepreneurship. When the mayor of Heimaey, Ellidi Vignisson, was showing us some very interesting parts of the island, the subject of the cliffs came up along with the practice of rope swinging along those cliffs. Ellidi then said, I will not only take you to the cliffs but I will show how it is done. Here is the proof:

We also met Frosti Gislason, who told us about being inspired by an online TED Talks lecture by a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Frosti told us that as a result of that TED Talk, he has been successful in bringing a FabLab to Heimaey. With the support of the authorities of the Westmann Islands and the Government of Iceland, Frosti now runs a laboratory where anyone over the age of 12 can come with their creativity and their ideas to fabricate products. The potential for inspiring a new generation of inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs and manufacturers is enormous. Frosti’s lab and three others in Iceland are now part of a creative dialogue with a large and growing network of FabLabs around the world, all inspired by a compelling idea from MIT.