Two Icelandic journalists are in Maine this week recruiting support for an ambitious Web-based magazine that aims to foster a common identity for people who live on the coasts of both sides of the North Atlantic – a 2 million-square-mile area populated by fewer than 9 million people.

Maine is identified as the only portion of the United States in this area, which includes the provinces of Atlantic Canada, Baffin Island, Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Scotland, the coast of Norway and the western coast of Denmark.

The impetus for the launch of the publication is climate change. The melting polar ice cap is clearing the way for natural resource extraction and new polar shipping routes that connect Asia with the East Coast and Europe, said Vilborg Einarsdottir, editor in chief of the magazine, called Jewels of the North Atlantic. At the same time, the region’s ecology and population will be affected by these changes.

“All of a sudden we are the hot spot of interest for the world,” said Einarsdottir, who since 1996 has specialized in producing films in extreme locations in Iceland and Greenland. Traveling with her is business partner and co-editor Kolfinna Baldvinsdottir, who has worked for years as a journalist based in Brussels, home to the headquarters of the European Union.

The magazine will focus on business, culture, current affairs and tourism. The business model is based not on subscriptions or display advertising but grant funding and sponsorships from businesses that have an interest in corporate social responsibility, she said. The site should be fully operational next year.

For the now, the group has a newly published 60-page booklet printed on glossy paper and filled with color photographs of the region. They have put together a team of freelance writers and photographers in the North Atlantic region and also exchanged content with mainstream media.

Kerri Arsenault, a Connecticut writer who grew up in Mexico, Maine, and is writing a literary nonfiction book set in Rumford, serves on the project’s editorial and concept development team. She met Einarsdottir and Baldvinsdottir last fall in Iceland while attending an Arctic Circle conference with her husband, Andrew Wood, who is director of the Arctic Center at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

She initially will be working as a freelance writer but hopes to eventually become a staff writer and photographer. One of the stories she’s considering focuses on the impact of industrial pollution on the Androscoggin River, which flows through Rumford and joins the Kennebec River at Merrymeeting Bay.

Arsenault said she believes the project can succeed because Einarsdottir and Baldvinsdottir have resources, global connections and broad knowledge of the media industry.

“I really think they can do it,” she said. “It’s a tall order, but they are really, really smart women.”

Another contributor will be Anneli Skaar, a Camden artist who is fluent in Norwegian and received a bachelor of arts degrees in graphic design and illustration from National Academy of Arts in Oslo.

Einarsdottir and Baldvinsdottir for the past week have been traveling between Washington, D.C., and Maine looking for financial supporters. Seed money for the project comes from the Nordic Atlantic Cooperation, an intergovernmental organization under the Nordic Council of Ministers that focuses on the European side of North Atlantic, including Greenland, an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. Einarsdottir would not say much money the project has received, but it’s enough to pay the salaries of four people since last fall.

While in Portland, they have been using office space at the Maine International Trade Center, a quasi-state agency that promotes trade.

Dana Eidsness, director of the Maine North Atlantic Development Office within the center, serves as an adviser for the project and has introduced Einarsdottir and Baldvinsdottir to contacts in the United States. She also has edited their copy to make it better suited to English language readers in the U.S.

Having Maine featured regularly in the publication will build recognition for the state as a member of the North Atlantic region, which would help Maine businesses looking for opportunities, she said.

The magazine’s intended circulation roughly coincides with the shipping routes of the Icelandic shipping company Eimskip, which two years ago moved its North American headquarters from Virginia to Portland.

The company is a potential sponsor for Jewels, and Einarsdottir and Baldvinsdottir met with Eimskip’s senior officials in Portland on Tuesday. Patrick Arnold, who has a contract with the Maine Port Authority to manage Portland’s container terminal and develop business opportunities, is listed a member of the project’s editorial and concept development team.

Einarsdottir said the Maine’s small population means people here relate to each other in a more straight-forward and trustful manner than people do in large metropolitans areas. This characteristic is shared by similarly sized coastal communities in the North Atlantic.

“When I am speaking to people from Maine, I feel like I am speaking to an Icelander culturally,” she said.

In addition, several Maine businesses in recent years have become more involved in the region, she said, noting that Cianbro CEO Peter Vigue last summer visited Iceland and Greenland to look for projects for the Maine-based construction company. Cianbro is able to build structures in Brewer and ship them via barge to customers in remote areas.

Also, Maine’s visibility has increased because of the work of Maine North Atlantic Development Office, which was established in January 2014 to develop trade and investment opportunities for Maine businesses in North Atlantic markets.

“Maine is certainly on the map,” Einarsdottir said. “It is definitely the North Atlantic face of the U.S.”

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