Oikeiôlogy takes place in Thesprotia, Greece, an area of dispersed pastoral communities, mythical topologies and rough topography, that is now jeopardised due to the new environmental bill that puts in risk the economy, lifestyle, nature and heritage.
Through a co-creation process, we will bring together women and youth initiatives aiming to develop cultural actions, reinforcing their current skill with contemporary methods, and strengthening territorial civic sovereignty.
Agricultural and pastoral communities in Thesprotia province, Epiros, northwestern Greece.
On May 5th, in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis, the Greek government passed a new law titled: “Modernisation of Environmental Legislation” which eliminates the protection of Natura 2000 sites all over the country, and commodifies the landscape promoting mining, investment projects, the expansion of the industrial and new construction activities.
Our region is facing the greatest challenge since it includes more than 40% of natural protected areas providing a landscape economy for the communities around them and a rich mythological cultural heritage. The population in these scattered communities have lessened almost a half in the last decade, resulting in abandoned schools, neglected public infrastructure and forgotten local technologies.
We are focused on dispersed rural settlements facing an imminent risk of losing their landscape biodiversity and identity while at the same time they’re suffering shrinkage and degraded civic infrastructures. Their local economy and growth are based on collaborative systems in a peer to peer way, neighbours helping neighbours and bartering but they are lacking organisational skills, competencies and structures. Through Oikeiôlogy, we aim to integrate bounding and engaging methodologies, through bidirectional teaching-learning processes where these communities can strengthen their own tools. By co-creating specific working groups, joining women initiatives, students, local community stakeholders and civic professionals.
The multilayered identity of rural communities in the inland is rooted in the territory: the valleys are shaped by the ingredients of traditional culinary techniques, defined by mythological topologies, and articulated through a cohesive network of women cooperatives. We propose an ecosystemic approach where importance will be given to human and non-human bodies. Our aim is to learn from lifelong relations between communities and natural bodies and co-create prototypes that can foster them. Special emphasis will be given to women who have organised against the almost routine oppression and young students, aspiring to re-conceptualise what counts as civil participation in public life, providing opportunities for formats of care and youth civic expression.
1. ORGANISATION and WORKING FRAME Dec 2020-Apr 2021
In this phase we work on two levels: Determine which natural protected areas are closely linked to the addressed communities (Kalodiki lake, Kalamas river, Eremitis mount). Acquire those public buildings to be used as community centres during the project and afterwards.
2.SCOPE, GOALS and DEVELOPMENT Apr-Jul 2021
Engage different actors, create working teams for each group of activities to be led by women initiatives. Co-create open meetings and activities with the communities. Collect and document local legends and myths.
3.OUTDOOR CULTURAL ACTIVITIES Aug-Oct 2021
Outdoor celebratory events, performances, encounters bringing different communities together. Highlighting the territory, its common resources and potentialities.
This collective project will trigger a learning process for the local communities that will foster mutual respect and individual commitment, will highlight positive interdependencies and will strengthen their social and cognitive skills through active listening, learning and training. We expect the participants to acquire tools for management and collaboration, thus maintain and organise activities in the community centres (now abandoned).
An active public voice will be heard towards the new environmental law, raising awareness of local dispersed communities, their natural heritage and common values. Stronger relationships will be formed between local initiatives, communities, individuals and stakeholders creating new narratives that valorise their territory.
According to the “Statistics on rural areas in the EU” published by Eurostat, what is happening in our rural area of Thesprotia is affecting almost all rural Europe. Our community is disconnected, our micro-economies are fragile too. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop alliances between different agents to strengthen our own tools and envision new sustainable futures.
Immersed in this common panorama, our initiative wants to envision new ways of improving civic cohesion in the territory through collaborative actions led by women cooperatives. To embrace this territorial civic sovereignty, it's important to think that our habitat is a landscape and our democracy should include all living agents, humans and nonhumans. We want to contribute by designing a “biosphere democracy”.
We have moved our practice in Thesprotia rural province not only because of our strong links to the communities there but also because we question and frustrate this cultural hegemony of the urban, moving away from the rural/urban dichotomy. Meeting and engaging with people across the province we have shared experiences, knowledge, skills, stories, ideas and resources and together we have started envisioning new perspectives and post-growth imaginaries. We believe that there is more to learn from these scattered communities who maintain a sustainable equilibrium with natural bodies that are now endangered. Thus we want to have the opportunity to amplify their approach and to re-think together critical and creative approaches of living together in the territory.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Project Team (Project Management, Project Develop, Graphic Design, Mediation & Facilitation, Communication): 22.000 €
Events Organization and Activation: 3.600 €
Experts and Artists Fees: 6.000 €
Travel Expenses & Accommodation: 4.800 €
Office Expenses (Office and Communication Supplies): 1.800 € - ONLY HALF REQUESTED
Workshop and Activities Material: 2.400 € - NOT REQUESTED
Process Documentation & Output (Printable Package + Video): 4.800 €
We have traditional wisdom but there is a lack of other kinds of knowledge. We need new perspectives and creative ideas on how we can form networks in our dispersed communities, maintain the sustainability of our landscape and mitigate depopulation (we need our young people to stay!).