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Four eco-villages and collectives in Athens (12 images)

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Five years of recession in Greece has undoubtedly been one of the harbingers of a general crisis in Europe; in January 2013 Greece recorded the highest unemployment rate in Europe (27.2. Grassroots movements are contributing to a more ‘EUtopian’ future for the Greek people, with eco-innovation marked out as a factor where Greece is improving its performace.

Malmo-based Turkish photojournalist Ozan Tekyn profiles Nea Guinea, Open Ecology, Spithari and theSwitch - civil initiatives focusing on sustainability projects, eco-communities and green NGOs which have bloomed out of the crisis

1) Young Greeks are going back to basics amidst the crisis. Many eco-communities focus on sustainability, self-sufficiency and environment in Athens and its surrounding regions. Nea Guinea is a young community providing theoretical and practical workshops on subjects as varied as urban gardening, creating soaps or alternative energy issues since September 2009

2) ’There is an increasing number of eco-communities against the backdrop of economic crisis,’ explains Kostas, 34, a member of Nea Guinea. ‘Many people moved from the city centre into rural areas surrounding Athens. Most people attend these classes by contributing a little money or exchanging services such as lecturing on a particular issue or skill such as soap-making’

3) A popular class on herbal medicine where students gain knowledge about different types of herbs and their effects on human health – such as curing urinary problems. A two-hour class costs five euros, and students attend to cut their own costs in their daily lives

4) Open Space for Eco-communities is an event organised by the Greek Network, eco-villages and eco-communities. It is a platform where assorted collectives gather to discuss certain issues regarding Greece and their communities per se

5) The philosophy behind this annual meeting is based on the open space procedure. This procedure democraticises the decision-making process and the output process. Participation is free for any or all of the workshops. Following the sessions, the results are enumerated on pinboards outside. Later people from all workshops gather in a circle to discuss the results and make recommendations if necessary (Image: © Ozan Tekyn for ‘EUtopia on the Ground in Athens’, April 2013)

6) One of the participants, Thomas, underlines the reference to the values of sharing, sustainability and solidarity. These values are further reinforced in the course of the two-day-long platform (Image: © Ozan Tekyn for ‘EUtopia on the Ground in Athens’, April 2013)

7) Mary Palmoutsou and Stephania from theSwitch created in 2005, have created a project called Imagine the City, which is focused on changing the face of various cities in Greece by stimulating regeneration in cooperation with the citizens

8) The project is mainly concentrated on empowering the grassroots and establishing a better communication between all sectors of society. Their light installation on Pittaki Street is a very successful example of democratising the public space and creating hope

9) Pittaki Street is almost derelict, however the light installation changed the face of the street

10) Spithari (‘Waking Life’ in English) is an eco-community which is situated in the old town of Marathonos, forty minutes away from Athens. It was born out of the protests in Greece in 2011

11) Kostas, Ioannis and Spiros are only three of the people living in Spithari. They built up their premises from scratch. Spithari-Waking life teaches about many sustainable procedures and activities such as permaculture or the electricity generation. Participants also have the chance to gain practical knowledge

12) Spithari’s premises are not designed for permanent settlement. The premises will be moving to another destination once the mission in Marathonos is completed

13) According to members, mobility will help them spread their knowledge and create stronger links with the eco-communities of Greece

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