March to Athens

I am just back form the final step towards Athens: a March (http://march2athens.tk) which left Nice on November 9th (just after the anti-G20), which crossed Italy and then Greece, finally reached Athens on May 5th.

The idea of the march was to talk about direct democracy, thanks to popular assemblies, taking the squares in a very simple way: the group reaches the place, opens the tents and settles the camp; and that’s the moment for talking with people.

The reasons for having chosen Athens as final destination are, again, simple: Greece is the center of the economical, social and political crisis in Europe, and we wanted to support Greek people. Even more:  before the beginning of the march the occupation on Syntagma square had been evicted (in a very violent and strong manner) by the police. One more reason to bring support!

I have been part of this march for a short period between Rome and Naples (in January) and then I decided to reach them again 8 days before the arrival.

In every place we stopped people were happy to see us, they brought us food, water, clothes and often they told us about Greece, about their everyday life.

Being from different backgrounds in terms of nationality (italian, spanish, french, belgian,canadian, dutch…), personal life (students, workers, unemployed…) and age (from 18 to 45 yo) every discussion was a source of new ideas and new interpretations of reality…

When we arrived in Syntagma, on Saturday, we were feeling as if we had reached an impossible goal! but we have done it…and I wanted to share it with the Edgeryders community!

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Good work! And now…

Wow, Betta, congratulations. Edgeryders - thanks to you - is right where the action is.

Now the difficult part starts. Where is this going? The effort of marching all the way to Athens is a significant one. What do you people get for it? Will you become frustrated and disillusioned, or do you feel you are bringing about the change you want?

And also: what do you see? Reports from Greece are that they seem to be pushing the edge of experimentation around resilience (incidentally, we have a campaign right now about it). Are you seeing interesting societal innovation?

Finally: have you thought of looking up Lina, another Edgeryders from Athens who seems quite active?

Thank you for the contact with Lina (I was actually looking for Greek people here around to talk about it).

I am in France right now but there are still some people from the group in Athens (till May 15th…)

Your question is a good one: well it is difficult to say how do you feel in this context but for sure not frustrated neither disillusioned!!! My personal feeling about it was rather the contrary: when you do something like that you don’t think the world will change because of that, you don’t think it will change immediately neither in a short amount of time BUT you feel like you are spreading seeds…and often you don’t even know how these seeds look like!

When we reached Syntagma there was a group of Greek motobikers supporting us, they were waiting on the corner for our last, very last, steps; after the emotional moment of being there ( I should add that I was with my brother who has taken part to the march from the very beginning in Nice so it has been even more emotional…) I moved towards the motorbikers to thank them for the support…their reply has been : “we thank you!!!”  and this is exactly the same that happened every day during the march…of course we knew and they knew that our march doesn’t change anything…but maybe it might start up a longer change…

In Italy, in Lazio, we met a 10 years old girl…and well she is still following us on internet and fb (ok, I don’t like neither children being on fb…but this is not the topic :slight_smile: : I think this is part of the change we want!

Concerning resiliance (I missed the campaign about it…which one?) and societal innovation it seems to me that there are interesting things going on in Greece but I don’t know enough about them to discuss or give my opinion

I am not sure I have given a reply to the different topics you raised…fell free to ask more!

Tell me more about the group that walked

What was it like in the group that walked? Like what were the dynamics as people walked around, in the group, the actual social dynamics as people travelled together, and what will become of the community now that you’ve arrived - are people going home to their own countries, or are they staying in Athens now?

What’s the next step?

And where will you go now?

good questions

I try to reply to all of  your questions which are very good…

About the group and the dynamics:

first of all this group has never been “a group” as you could imagine it considering that  people joined the march at different moments, they stayed for different period and some came back to the march after having left it for a long period (that’s what I did for ex.). Basically there as been two main group, however: the one which did nice-rome and the one which did rome-athens (of course some people from the first group remained during the second phase: the five or six who actually did the whole march from nice to athens).

Add the fact that the national composition  was very wide…and you will figure out that it might have been complicate.

Howevere I can say that except some normal contrasts due to the continous staying together and to some sort of competition that always appear in small groups the avarage of the relationships has been pretty good.

Two could be considered the main problems we have had, based on lack of trust and on the special context: people thinking that someone in the group wants to manipulate decisions and people being afraid of police undercovered.

Both the issues are normal and related to the exceptional conditions of the March.

One of the most important aspects of the dynamics is that every single decision was made thanks to an assembly, totally horizontal…this means that we have spent a lot of time talking!

Now:

Well now that the March is finished the plan was to make an international agora in Athens, but it was not up to the March to organise it: there is a group of people in Athens who did it.

For the March the mission is accomplished: some of us are back home (like me) some others are still in Athens until the end of the Agora (tomorrow) and they will go back home at  some timecountries, or are

Next step:

There is not a next already decided step for this group. Howevere, politically speaking, the idea of another march, this time  to Jerusalem, has been launched…but it’s no more than a project at this very moment.

Wow!! Betta, I had no idea that something like this was happening in Athens. I am very glad as I see things are moving in Greece. Specially in periods like this one, direct demogracy is more necessary and important than ever. After our national elections the only stable thing is Chaos… I think people’s voice need somehow to be heard, direct demogracy is the answer! I really feel touched seeing foreigners to protest with us for our rights and support us in simple ways (like this March) we need this feeling of community and this is why they were so grateful to you. I think you already noticed that even in awful situations and times as this one, Greeks never lose their hospitality and their smile. They would always offer you food and drink if they don’t have the means :slight_smile:

Some days ago I got aware of this documentary by a young Greek guy living and studying in London (friend of a friend). I saw the trailer and seems REALLY interesting and I can also notice that it got also great reputation and critics.  I am trying to get in touch with him to ask him to share online so I can watch it full but still I didn’t hear from him.

Anywayz as at the moment I am not living there (but still all of my life is there…) it would be good to get in touch with Lina about Athens’ initiatives (she is part of Sarcha) and also for open democracy content I would recommend you to read Lucyanna’s report on Democratic Utopia.

Thank you and Keep in touch :slight_smile:

parakalo! (I am not sure it’s the right way to write it…but I guess you understand).

Well I am always happy to see that even small iniatives are appreciated…

Greek hospitality has been amazing (and I am used to the South Italy one!)

Thanks, ehm …efharisto, for the suggestions…I am gonna read them (by the way I know about another documentary which is about to be finished by a group of greek activists in Thessaloniki)

keep in touch (and see you in Strasbourg…!)

I will ask for…

I have no idea about the title of the documentary…but as soon as I find my friend on Skype I will ask him!

I didn’t know Thessaloniki was so active…!

By the way do you know anything about the local money which seems to be in a very productive phase in Greece?

Here you can have some links for Thessaloniki: Film Festival and Thessaloniki European Youth Capital.

I am not sure I understand your question… what do you mean by local money?

thanks

Efharisto!

I meant that I have read somewhere that there are a lot of experiments of local money out of the euro monetary system all around greece (some are called TEM, if I am not wrong) and I was wondering  how to find information about this!

Αααα now I got it!! Yes it has already started in Volos city the TEM (Local Alternative Currency) system, which is an ancient way of buying and selling goods.

They exchange services and products because they can’t afford to do it with Euros. It is in a start up phase, so I don’t know if it is really going to work out but I think it gives hope to people and support! For example you can exchange meat with a doctor’s visit etc.

There are other start ups currency systems as the time exchange which is actually doing great job!

Although I am very curious of its success and its spreading around Greece, I am positive because we have already seen similar projects to drive countries out of the crisis (e.g Trueques in Argentina).

A bit more on TEM

Now Chara is definitely closer to what’s happening with the TEM than I am. Yet I’d like to add two pointers that I found to be interesting sources in the international press about it:

That's more or less all I've heard about the TEM (had linked both of these in the mission report on alternative currencies, in case you missed it).

Wow…finding this here…I’m like it’s crazy how things enfold and come back in one’s radar…
I actually made the website at the time and went to Nice for the departure of the march…
before that I had worked for “the march to Brussels” with the spanish 15M…

what a time !

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After the crisis is before the crisis! And this time we’ll know how to do it right :slight_smile:

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