MESSOLONGHI BY LOCALS
“Messolonghi by Locals” is a participatory city branding project where locals play the role of the city brander. Through democratic processes including dialogue, partnerships and networks, locals of all ages and backgrounds collaborate in order to map cultural routes for the city of Messolonghi and disseminate its cultural heritage. The upscale project aims to revive the city, empower citizen participation in decision making processes and reinforce solidarity within the local community.
Messolonghi, Western Greece
Messolonghi is a small Greek city with an ecosystem of rare beauty, an important history and an overall rich culture. Nowadays however, due to the social and economic crisis of the last decade, the city has turned into a ghost city. Young people are abandoning it to find a better future elsewhere and those remaining have lost their hope and passion to change it. Locals feel their voice is not being heard in the decisions made in a local but also European level and many prefer to assign problem solving to third parties. At the same time, dialogue and democracy are under attack because they are greatly misused and misinterpreted. The need for citizen involvement in decision making processes and community unity in order to co-create a better future is what motivates this project.
Community unity in this project is achieved through the participatory mapping process of the city’s cultural heritage which is a vital part of collective memory and identity and is what all citizens share in common. Moreover, participatory mapping is a democratic, decentralized, and communal form of identity making that involves knowledge sharing, networking, collaboration but also debate between locals. Empowering the value of democracy and freedom of speech is one of the main goals of this project where everyone plays an equal and important role. Participants are all leaders, considering that a leader is anybody who cares and does something about it. Thus, the project focuses on encouraging individual action within a collective framework for achieving a common goal.
There are no limits in age, gender or cultural background. Anyone who is interested in local culture (art, environment, history, traditions, architecture, outdoor activities, antiquity etc.) can participate.
Teachers and students from more than 11 schools and 3 education institutions will be involved in the mapping process.
Members of local associations (drawing and photography club, running and cycling club etc.) will also be invited to participate.
Locals but also travellers visiting the city will participate passively by walking on the cultural routes that will be mapped by the locals of the city and attend events organised for disseminating the results of the project.
Upscaling the project will include 5 Phases.
PHASE 1: Communicating the next steps of the project to the local community and expanding network of local supporters and partners.
PHASE 2: Team building and capacity building workshops for participants.
PHASE 3: Creating cultural routes. The methodology used includes:
a. Research (bibliography, interviews, on-site visits, etc.)
b. Recording (video, photo, text, etc.)
c. Experiential learning (workshops, performances, short films, etc.)
d. Presentations and actions of knowledge exchange throughout the process (reports, discussions, etc.)
e. Designing a cultural route in the form of a (printed-digital) map.
PHASE 4: Organizing events for the dissemination of the cultural routes.
PHASE 5: Evaluation and assessment of the project.
At the moment the project has already started changing the mentality of the locals by making them understand the value of co-creating the image of their city. It has started giving them hope for a better future. Upscaling the project will multiply the social impact of the project and in a year from now it will be bringing an abandoned city back to life. More than 16 cultural routes will be mapped, 300 students, 100 volunteers and 20 partners will be part of the mapping process and audience in dissemination events will re¬ach more than 1500 people. The project will have made locals more aware of the city's resources and their value. Success will lie on the willingness of locals to help protect the cultural heritage and on the likelihood of them becoming engaged in decision making processes.
Europe is supposed to be a space where democracy prospers and people have a voice that can be heard. The socioeconomic crisis is leading communities to divide, hatred to flourish and solidarity to disappear. In order to have a united Europe, we need to have united communities. “Messolonghi by Locals” proposes a way to tackle this problem of community division and encourages citizen engagement in decision making processes. It is an innovative project for both Greek and European standards as it proposes a methodology that can involve a large portion of the community. It can be seen as a pilot project that will then inspire other organizations, communities or groups of citizens to do the same: use their common love for their culture in order to empower citizen engagement and connect locals.
Messolonghi is the place where we were born and raised. We decided to return back to the city after our studies despite the general belief that we have no future here and that we should build our future elsewhere. Our love for this city is what made us return and what makes us passionate about this project. Messolonghi for us is a combination of sealake and mountains, of monuments of ancient cities, seductive landscapes and sunsets, traditional fishing practices, local products, delicious cuisine and warm hospitality. We cannot watch this city deteriorate anymore while its citizens remain inactive. Through this project we want to remind locals of the value of their cultural heritage and encourage them to start taking matters into their hands in order to create a positive impact.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Α. SERVICES 29758
B. SPACE RENT 1500
C. TRAVEL COSTS 1400
D. PUBLICITY 6900
E. EQUIPMENT RENT 1700
F. PRODUCTION COST 5900
G. OTHERS 1500
All comments and ideas are welcome!