Iceland halts road scheme because it might have disturb the ELVES
In this land of fire and ice, where the fog-shrouded lava fields offer a spooky landscape in which anything might lurk, stories abound of the 'hidden folk' - thousands of elves, making their homes in Iceland's wilderness. So perhaps it was only a matter of time before 21st-century elves got political representation. Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project building a direct route from the tip of the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer. They fear disturbing elf habitat and claim the area is particularly important because it contains an elf church.
Land of mystery: A highway connecting Gardabaer in Reykjavik to the Alftanes Peninsula in Iceland has been put on hold because of protests about the environmental and cultural impact - including affect it could have on local elves. Pictured is one of the few huts along the Laugavegur trail
The project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava, who cite both the environmental and the cultural impact - including the impact on elves - of the road project. The group has regularly brought hundreds of people out to block the bulldozers. And it's not the first time issues about 'Huldufolk', Icelandic for 'hidden folk', have affected planning decisions. They occur so often that the road and coastal administration has come up with a stock media response for elf inquiries, which states in part that 'issues have been settled by delaying the construction project at a certain point while the elves living there have supposedly moved on'.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2527939/Judge-halts-Icelandic-road-project-court-decide-detrimental-impact-local-elves.html#ixzz2rT3gziwf
I'm not sure what I find so appealing about this story, beyond the obvious that there are still people, even at the level of government, that are will to make public policy decisions based upon perceptions of folklore. Of course, there would be those who would find comparisons of this type of policy decision with more dangerous policy decisions based upon religious ideology - specifically in the treatment of women and gays, but I'll choose to move past that and embrace the simple fact that in Iceland, there are those who still believe in faeries.
I recall a similar story coming out of Ireland a few years back that focused on a development and a single faerie tree - a hawthorn or some such thing if I recall correctly. I don't remember how it turned out, but I do remember the fascination I had of it at the time - that people would make economic decisions based upon their belief in the paranormal. As North Americans, the concept of belief in the 'wee folk' is mostly foreign, with our European ancestors leaving that mostly behind in the old world. A cursory examination of the internet finds little to suggest the belief in faeries is anything but mostly dead here, though one can find tantalizing suggestions that there was some belief that immigration of the faeries was thought to have taken place to a small extent. Beyond that, there is a curious concept f 'wee folk' found in many Native North American traditions that pre dates European arrival, though it doesn't seem to have translated well to the newcomers. I find that odd, because newly arrived Europeans grasped onto the 'monster' of North America and have maintained that traditional folklore quite well. Bigfoot, Ogopogo, and the Manitou along with many others began as Native North American lore that have since caught on and now have a following among the modern inhabitants with many admitting full belief of these creatures.
Not that I think they would reroute roads or cease development, but it's the thought that counts.
I dwell upon this because I am working on my first urban fantasy which figures on a central character that immigrated from the Old World - a Ghille Dubh or wood faerie from Scotland - who sailed into the New World in 1848 aboard HMS Constance and found a home near the tiny settlement of Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island.
The fact that we can still find some solace in the beliefs of the old world and appreciate that our modern selves do not know everything is a comfort to me for some odd reason.
I like a bit of mystery, I guess.