Residents of Sommary, bright 24/7 in summer, say they want to do what we want, when we want
The 350 residents of Sommaroy in the land of the midnight sunshine are hoping to free themselves from the autocracy of the clock by declaring the small Norwegian island the world’s first time-free zone.
” All over the world, people are characterised by stress and depression ,” Kjell Ove Hveding, the leader of the campaign on the island, west of Tromso and inside the Arctic circle, told the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.
” In many cases this can be linked to the feeling of being trapped by the clock. We will be a time-free zone where everyone can live their lives to the fullest … Our goal is to provide full flexibility, 24/7. If you want to cut the lawn at 4am, then you can do it .”
The islanders, whose main sources of income are tourism and fishing, are calling for formal opening hours to be abolished and people to be allowed to” do what we want, when we want”- although infants will still have to go to school, Hveding said.
Sommaroy spends November to January in darkness, but in summer residents know that when the sunshine rises on 18 May, it will not set again until 26 July.
” It’s constant daylight ,” Hveding said on the campaign’s Facebook page.” If you want to paint your home at 2am, it’s OK. It we want to take a swim at 4am, we will .”
The residents added:” Here we enjoy every minute of the midnight sun, and yes, a coffee with friends on the beach at 2am is a normal thing .”
Tourism officials told NRK they suspected the campaign was mainly a clever ploy to attract more summertime visitors, but a doctrine professor has hailed it as an intriguing idea.
” It’s a fascinating idea ,” said Truls Egil Wyller of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. Society had been ruled by the clock” and so disciplined in a very special way” merely for the past two centuries, he said.
” Before that, you worked mostly as long as it was necessary, you feed food when you were hungry and you lay down when you were tired. In modern society, everything we do is controlled by the pace of the clock, from the moment we get up .”
He said though that residents of Sommaroy would not find life without day particularly easy.” I’m not going to say it’s impossible to pull a whole island out of the global clock ,” he told the broadcaster.” But it does sounds very difficult .”
After a public meeting in May, the islanders last week handed the local MP, Kent Gudmundsen, a petition calling for the scheme to be debated in parliament. He told the iTromso newspaper it voiced exciting and suggested it could be considered as a third alternative alongside summer and winter time.
Visitors to Sommaroy have reportedly embraced the idea enthusiastically, with some abandoning their watches and attaching them to a bridge leading to the island.
But not all residents are so sure.” I can foresee challenges with some guests when it comes to checking in and checking out, and the opening hours of the bar and restaurant ,” said Malin Nordheim, a receptionist at the Sommaroy Arctic hotel.” I’m a little sceptical .”
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