Greece as a hot-spot of transformative future (conversation with Pavlos Georgiadis, part 2)

Besides the food, there is a whole chunk of attention devoted solely to climate change. As @Pavlos said, since he was a kid he saw degradation all around - his little coastal hometown, in North-Eastern Greece, surrounded by olive orchards, was always the reference point of a good life in a good space. Seeing the country devastated by urban sprawl, beaches consumed by villas and bars, and people being happy about this, worried him since a long time. So, after receiving education in Scotland, Germany, and researching native tribes of China and Thailand, he didn’t only come back to Greece to rethink its food culture. He also decided to work on the climate.

Pavlos is involved with climatetracker.org, an international team of young writers and quite possibly the biggest environmental youth movement of people from all around the world. These are decentralized and nonhierarchical groups led by activists in the Carribean, Europe, Latin America. They cover events in UN or COPs but also do investigative journalism on a local scale. Their work unmasks lobbies and harmful practices and has been published in key media across the globe. They also organize webinars and campaigns and often encourage writers to concentrate on a certain issue in a given period of time.

And Pavlos has an idea. Greece can become a hotspot of international dialogue on sustainability and resilience. As the country struggles with, as Pavlos has beautifully put it, “restoring the zombie economy”, it innovates and experiments along the way. The social innovation and solidarity, however highly spontaneous and uncoordinated, are the backbone for the change. What would be necessary now is to organize those in collaboration with the right minds from all over the world in order to use the whole potential of this change and build a national economy that is regenerative and sustainable?

Even though Greek politicians and intellectuals in many cases seem stuck decades ago and their resistance to change is huge, what’s happening around proves its inescapable. Pavlos thinks the best for them would be to funnel the energy into protecting marginalized groups, including the refugees, to lower their costs of transition.

The Greek crisis has a side that not many people talk about - how would paying back the debt affects its environment. Pavlos believes paying off the money lent from the international institutions would create a huge ecological debt in terms of lack of sustainable land use and waste management.

Now, as the demos has been neglected and their voice hijacked during the last referendum, it’s time to accept, at least tolerate, widespread civil disobedience that will drive the movement. 62% that disagreed has been silent so far, but it will have to speak soon. Even more, what seems to be an alternative idea, is not alternative anymore there - it’s the only way out. Greece is exploring the open data tools and sharing knowledge, prototyping new was of accountability, transparency, decision making. And here the health and care appear again. Pavlos has seen plenty of interesting and viable practices and conclusions forming from the bottom-up, grassroots practice in Greece. These are the ways in which delivering health care has changed, in which social organization has challenged the systemic shortcomings. From those experiments and pieces emerges a complex, wide image of more inclusive future. It is built on the exchange of ideas and practices in an open manner. It rethinks the way we deliver care in a more decentralized way, more concentrated on prevention. It reframes urban food systems by educating people on the impact of what they eat on their health. Contemporary lifestyle jeopardizes 50 years of development in the health sector - food related diseases, new viruses, climate change, they all have a huge, negative impact on the quality of our lives. Technology and science, accompanied by open data and sharing, can prevent disastrous effects of those phenomena.

Finally, I asked how would he explain his entrepreneurial path to those opposing the market? He said a couple of things I find hilarious and worth considering. First of all, that activism is for city people - while he wanted to go back to his olive groves and do the farm life. Secondly, there is a dire need of changing the way people do business - in a sustainable way, with respect to diversity, with a different concept of what’s valuable. It’s not the price of land and potential golf courses, not the cheap fast forest. Thirdly, doing things like bread plates is not a rocket science - but if successful it points towards effective and regenerative entrepreneurship. Therefore, an entrepreneur doing such kind of work realizes the visions of an activist - by actually convincing a chain of restaurants to deliver local, better coffee or beer, by cutting off the middlemen. It means millions of people affected in a positive way. It takes a solid ethical concept and guts to take risks, but it pays off in many ways. And it fills the unemployment gap, which wastes the potential of a whole generation now. Interacting with the system is the way for Pavlos. And I really like the fact he’s not used to failing.

You can read the first part of the article here: https://edgeryders.eu/en/transforming-food-systems-in-post-crisis-greece-conversation-with

Wow, truly impressive!

Thank you @Natalia_Skoczylas for sharing this inspiring reality!

Thank you @Pavlos for doing such a beautiful work! I find this particularly interestnig:

“Even though Greek politicians and intellectuals in many cases seem stuck decades ago and their resistance to change is huge, what’s happening around proves its inescapable. Pavlos thinks the best for them would be to funnel the energy into protecting marginalized groups, including the refugees, to lower their costs of transition.

Documenting (also visually) the whole new process itself should be useful for detailed analysis of what works and what doesn’t, so to improve in next iterations and/or copy in other contexts.

Greece is working out a Plan C for Europe.

Definitely! There are several documentary crews coming over to Greece in the last 1.5 years with some really great questions.

Here is an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0KNbKvYn5w

And here is my documentary “Farming on Crisis?” (2012), which shares the stories of young people returning to the land, in seek of ways out of unemployment.

I do believe that in the context of #Brexit, there are several interesting lessons to be learned from the social solutions prototyped by communities in Greece, what I like to call the “Plan C”. Producing a positive, thoughtful documentary film for the transition process happening in Greece is an idea I am very keen in discussing further.

Are the young agriculturers from two yrs ago still up& running?

Thanks for sharing your short doc @Pavlos… it does feel hopeful, looking at the young people taking on activities that traditionally were assigned to older, more rural populations, and mostly to see them taking on brand new skillsets. Where I come from (Romania) these small islands of change exist as well, but young farmers can’t cater but for tiny markets. For the more traditional producers, we’re talking subsistence agriculture and farming. With such small subsidies (someone in the video mentions 1500 eurs per year), how did they eventually manage? Notice I’m asking this two years after the movie was made.

But health care?

@Pavlos , you absolutely rock – and thanks @Natalia_Skoczylas for sharing. I am intrigued by this:

Pavlos has seen plenty of interesting and viable practices and conclusions forming from the bottom-up, grassroots practice in Greece.

Can you say more about these practices? I, for one, would be interested.