Heritage Management e-Society "HERMeS"
Municipality of Syros-Ermoupolis
HERMeS is an NGO working on Digital Heritage and Community Engagement. Commonspace is a collaborative – interdisciplinary planning and design group. Municipality of Syros-Ermoupolis supports the idea
To raise awareness of the citizens about the tangible and intangible heritage of their "polis" (greek city), we engage them in a story-sharing procedure that will bring them closer to each other and to their cultural heritage. Through digital communication strategies, public workshops, and cultural events, actively engaging the local community, we create a service design process that gathers, develops, narrates, and disseminates the created stories via off-the-shelf interactive technologies.
City of Hermoupolis, Syros island, Cyclades island group in Aegean Sea, southeast of mainland Greece
The first challenge we are faced with in our story cocreation project has to do with societal diversity and historic transference/interpretation. Τhe city of Ermoupolis was created 200 years ago by refugees that came to the island of Syros (inhabited then by a small Catholic community). The result was the composition of a heterogeneous civil society of two communities, two dogmas, two cultures, two economies under the same roof, and ultimately in the present two ways of relating to a shared history/heritage. The second challenge emerges from the distancing of locals from their heritage due to increasing tourism, profit-driven tourism-oriented local practices, and the sterility of procedures by the corresponding public authority when it comes to cultural heritage preservation/management.
For each citizen to share a common sense of belonging, they must first learn about and connect with their city’s heritage. Our means for establishing this connection is through the sharing of stories inspired by buildings and monuments of the city.
By acknowledging, appreciating, and sharing their cultural heritage, citizens apprehend not only the necessity for its preservation, but also the substantiality of their personal involvement as well as their collaboration as a community towards this end. Realizing the actual prospects of cultural tourism, and the different ways heritage can be disseminated through civic participatory activities and the help of cost-effective technology, spur creative processes and collective goals that transcend any political, social or racial divisions.
Cultural heritage civic participatory activities call for the inclusion of every voice possible in the community; be it native or immigrant residents, young or old, wealthy or poor. Collecting and rescuing the oral memory of a city, requires the involvement of local people of all ages. But to transfer meaning and interpretation of those stories to present and future generations, the contribution of the younger public is equally essential. Τo bridge the gap between all target groups, we are addressing local schools and university with their students and tutors (kindergartens to professors), and all local cultural institutions, to actively engage in our crowdsourcing of stories, where the elderlies storytell and the younger people digitally recreate and render their narratives.
Phase 1: Informing the local community and profiling the topics of focus
Phase 2: Engaging with citizens, social groups/cultural organizations that have expressed interest, and recording their stories. Schools that wish to get involved, start researching, documenting, and creatively interpreting the stories provided by the community
Phase 3: The logged stories are converted to digital multimedia material, a heritage route is created and supported by QR signs on buildings that “participate” along the path
Phase 4: A collective multidisciplinary cultural day event mapped around the historic path where participants and local artists/organizations communicate their projects to the local community. The event will conclude at the local theatre with the presentation of the action’s results
We expect that through this project we will enhance civic participation in cultural heritage, reminding the locals that the city was created by refugees (as many cities in Greece) and asking them to document the stories that historic buildings and paths are hiding today.
We plan 3 community meetings to inform the locals, 5 workshops for sharing knowledge, 5 parallel cultural activities for co-design the production of the stories and 1 final event to show the best practices. We have ensured the involvement of 14 schools, 50 university students, 10 local cultural organisations, many groups and individuals. We have also secured the support of the local Municipality to our activities, giving the project a bottom-up approach: people design the stories and local government supports them.
Ermoupolis is the capital of Cyclades, the cradle of European civilization. Implementing a project that arouses the roots of cultural heritage in the place that democracy played an important role for more than 2500 years, gives a strong example of how democratic procedures could be applied today in recording the stories of the past. In this action, we welcome diversity by letting people tell the stories: kids, women, men, elderlies, locals, outsiders, disabled, experts, professionals, amateurs, artists, musicians, writers, politicians, students etc. The paths of the "Polis" (greek City) of "Ermes" (greek Mercury) aka "Ermoupolis", become the centre of democratic design through a continuing dialogue with history and people in times of extreme polarization in Greek islands and Europe
We are passionate about public participation procedures in the heritage field, as a mean for urban and community development. We study and implement co-design methodology in our activities with local communities and cultural organisations. We are envisioning the empowerment of the public to reclaim their cultural space. Ermoupolis was always our inspiration; the unique circumstances that created the city, the diversity of the local population, their passion for creation, the amazing heritage that left behind 1.200 historic neoclassical buildings and the wake that you can still feel by walking the paths of Ermou-Polis. Those are our motivations, the will to explore, understand, preserve and promote this cultural heritage. To share the physiognomy of this place with every local and outsider.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel Cost: 25.000 euro
Experts Cost: 25.000 euro
Travelling & Accommodation: 3.500 euro
Supporting Local Initiatives: 3.500 euro (we will explore other funding to increase this amount)
Cost of Workshops & Final Event: 3.500 euro
Dissemination cost: 4.000 euro
*HERMES NGO will contribute in-kind personnel, with it's members in this project. Specifically, two experts (members of the board) will work (part time) for free, for the duration of the project.
We are interested in any feedback that could improve our idea! Mostly we would like to get in touch with other teams and share experience and passion for cultural heritage and local communities.