From Othoni through the Paxoi to Zakynthos - journey goes on. This time meeting Therianos family again - that was an important stop in our voyage.
We came to Zakynthos to pick up new member of our crew - Ida Glušič, which joins us - MEDlanders, and also to meet Dimitrios, who leads the family farm. (About Dimitrios you can find out more here in the story.)
It's about six years ago when Bojan met Yannis for a first time. Nearly every year Bojan come again on the boat with the MEDland crew to visit him. Each time he sees incredible improvements - on the Othoni island and in Yanni's life as well.
This time surprised us availability of the clean water - water source was drilled...Aslo ferry boat regularly coms to the island what was not the custom before. And another progress which amazed us touches the attempts to extract petroleum oil in Ionian Sea - for now everything have stopped and oil stays in the earth.
Throughout the years Bojan and Yannis became good friends and visiting him again this year was exceptional beautiful experience. You can also get to know Yannis via links below.
Look inside of busy beggining of our cruise...through the eyes of new member of the crew - slovak film-maker/graphic designer Matej Michalec. He will tell you what MEDland project means for him and what brought him to the Mediterranean sea.
Despite great challenges, our expedition is going on. Waves are bringing us to the island Korčula and Mljet.
Get your copy of the NEW photo book on Venice, featuring photographs taken in 2020, which will be officially released on May 7th. You can secure your copy if you are an active Patron of the MED Land project or shop on theMED Land page!
Venice is the tip of the Mediterranean and the starting place of the MED Land project. I lived in Venice on Nalu (the project boat) for a year, and the outcome was different exhibitions and the book ”Water Dragon of Venice”. Seven year later, I felt the urge, a call to come back and witness Venice again. THE RESULT IS ALREADY PUBLISHED IN a photo book with English text by Marko Pogačnik. This time, it was a a simultaneous call of two, Marko Pogačnik and me. No wonder, really, since we already collaborated on 5 book projects about Venice. During 2020, Marko has been visiting Venice mostly telepathically, and wrote and drew a completely new vision of Venice, titled VENEDIG – EMBRYO DES NEUEN ERDENRAUMS (VENICE –EMBRYO OF THE NEW EARTH SPACE). The second book, which is complementary to this one, features a selection of 92 full-page images which were also created in 2020. This 2-in-1 bundle is published in German by Neue Erde.
The English version is a photo book with short introductory text by Marko. It is a limited edition of 99 copies and a very high-quality print.
English Version - ONE book > 92 photos/144 pages 27x20,5 cm, hard cover: VENICE-EMBRYO OF THE NEW EARTH SPACE
NOW is the right time to get involved in the very important 2021 chapter of the project.
Dimitris Lesses from Ikaria: "I came back because I made a deal with my wife that if we have a child, he must grow up in a safe and healthy environment, which is not Athens ..."
Dimitris has three diplomas and many jobs, AND his important concern and activity is to study, explore, preserve and educate others about the natural environment on Ikaria. He is a speleologist and knows over 40 caves on the island. He is also a member of a rescue team. ”I do many things, because I don't like to be bored.”
I think, for example, that my child can go alone to the town square from the age of six, because everybody is paying attention to what's going on and looking after my child, just as I am looking after the well-being of other people's children.
We do not have policemen here, we are doing the job ourselves, always checking if everything is OK, so the thieves don't steal anything, because if the owners catch you, they hit you, and the only way to survive is to run to police station, but we don't have one here.
I try to use photographs to show the beauty of the nature to the locals, that's why I practice photography. Here, even the people who work in the municipality don't know the island, they don't know its history. Once, I was doing an interview with an old man, and he told me something very useful about trees. If there are no male trees in the area, you must go to the river and find clear sand. Then, take the sand and wash the fruit tree very thoroughly from top to bottom and from bottom to top. This way, the fruit begins to grow and will not fall down as a small fruit. So it is important to preserve the knowledge of old people.
Local people do not dare to go into the caves. They know them from legends and stories, and Dimitri loves to dive deep into the magical mineral worlds.
… I want to do all this things – be a plumber, a photographer, an X-ray technician, and in my free time, explore caves, dive, hike, motorbike ... In the summer, I do photography to avoid being bored, because there are weddings and baptising days.
The value we appreciate here, for example, is not to discriminate against the elderly and expel them to homes for the elderly. Why? Because they have the knowledge to pass on, and time for children as well.
Many people go to other countries to work, and they have lost the tradition of the island, they do not know its history, they do not know how to make the things you need in order to live here … So this is lost for the next generation. We need research for my generation to learn ... This is also my role in the Ikarian society, to bring more knowledge about the island, about nature, first of all, trees, caves, history, languages ... I am also a writer, and have published a book about ancient Ikarian languages.
Ikaria is OK if it has 15,000 goats, and now there are 41,000 of them here, since the peasants get big money from the EU to have goats.
We are policemen, volunteer firemen, volunteer rescuers, volunteer soldiers, since our politicians have signed a deal stating that there should not be official army on Ikaria, Samos, Chios. Therefore, everybody aged 22–65 is a volunteer. We keep weapons in our house, we have an airport and two harbors. They are a very easy target, Our neighbor the president is a little crazy. Not people, people are like us. The officers are brainwashed.
Panagiri – a traditional dancing & music feast on the Ikaria island (Aegina sea) takes place all around the island nearly every day from spring to fall. The Ikarians worship Dionysus, and celebrating life is part of it. Another, more recent tradition is keeping Marxist ideas as a prosperous living option for community popular. In other words, communist values are close to traditional Ikarian society > after the Greeks expelled the Turks from Ikaria in 1912, the Greek government used the island as an exile for about 13,000 communists. They could not wish for a better home than Ikaria. :))
The island has its own microclimate: we have trees from Central Africa, trees from Central Europe, cork oak ... We have many, many different areas, so the people who live in one area don't usually move to another much. So when they see my photos, they often say: ”Oh, this is Ikaria?”
When I was working on my sailing license, an old guy said to me: If you see clouds near the top of Fournoi (neighboring islands), or if flies are biting you, do not go sailing - the weather will change and the south wind will blow ...
For me, my bottom line is friends, family, but onlyif they are good people, first of all ... Many people that are now in their 70s are a little strange, all of them! I love guys who give to and help other people without expecting money or thanks ... Many people do it, I do it and I like it. If we are all doing it, we can feel safe as a community. I do not like Athens.
A beekeeper from the highlands of Ikaria, known for special bee honey made entirely from Ikarian herbs
Ikaria Island is like a crown chakra of the vast Aegean sea, the Mediterranean and beyond.
Can you sense that on the internet?
In 2018, I came here to meet Christodoulos Xenakis, and from the first moment, he shared with me and the MED Land team at the time (Melania and Kubilay) his heartfelt and passionate relation with Ikaria, taking us around and explaining past and present footprints on this ancient land. Christodoulos is 85 year old now, still running an organisation – the Institute for Ikarian Studies (IFIS). One of his compassionate idea was for each EU country to have one container house as an art residency place on Ikaria island. IFIS actually got one which was “waiting for the first“ country to make it happen for more than ten years …
The friendship with Christodoulos, as well as with other Ikarians that MedLanders met in 2019, has grown to this day, which is well reflected in the stories about the adventures of Christodoulos and other Ikarians such as Urania, Dimitris, Vangelis and others. The Med Land team also facilitated a land‑art stone sculpture project on Ikaria by international group of artists-geomants, which is still ongoing.
Here are some links to stories and news related to Christodoulos, Ikaria and Ikarians:
Ikaria has at least 15,000 years of continuous history of their own specific civilisation. Their main god is Dionysus. During the 600‑year period of pirates, they hid and lived untouched in the middle of the 1,000m high island. The communist ideas are still legit here to this day. Living with less, in a sustainable way, with a lot of music and dancing is what they like … the Dionysus way … Ikaria is also known for many people that easily reached 100 years of age … The recipe is not to live alone.
My top tree virtues of Ikaria that made me become its fen are:
the perception of time on Ikaria as one big “now” … Every day is a new day, and a reset of “priority and schedule list“ is normal, acceptable, a way of living;
awareness of the values of the Ikaria continent with the positive attitude towards sharing them. It is about being grounded and connected, not only on a human level;
openness to the rest of the world.
In 2020, Christodoulos offers us – the “Slovenians“ – a tiny container house to use it for the “project residency“.
In February/March and November/December 2020, four of us made it liveable! The idea is for people with creative aims to be able stay on Ikaria, live, experience, interact, and create something out of it.
"The measure, the aesthetics and the human are three different keys for happiness and balance in our lives, because you can see all aspects of all these three things in our lives."
“When we started the agency, I remember my mother saying to do it in a way that would not spoil the island. I use my skills, art and knowledge in tourism …"
Urania is dedicated and native Ikarian. Her father opened the first tourist agency on the island, which upheld the values of sustainable tourism from the very beginning.
“All aspects of our life come from aesthetics. Aesthetic is not just about art, it's about how we choose the people around of us, our environment, how how we dress, what we eat ... Aesthetics is also very much related to harmony, and harmony is based on the human proportion. The purpose is to be in balance, in which case we never go against the natural flow of energies in other words ... Aesthetics will make us better, will make us happy, because according to our taste, we choose our partner or lifestyle, a glass of wine we enjoy, and finally, it's the meaning of life ... But we don't pay much attention to aesthetics. We have to teach children to watch, to observe and make their own choices. For me, this is the beginning of a person's personality. All this has to do with our lower instinct, but if we don't use aesthetics, we cannot be masters of our instinct logic and soul. Brain and soul, these are two potentials we have to balance. We must respect our contribution, or our existence in the universe, and not try to force the change of the rules, because then it really becomes toxic and catastrophic. Aesthetics is about the big chapter - it's a big part of philosophy. This could be the applied philosophy in life, this is the key to making us open windows, to seeing things differently, to reestimating our position as humans, as individuals, as a smaller group, as well as people as part of the universe.”
Aesthetics is very much related to harmony, both are universal principles, and harmony is based on human proportions. If we are balanced, if we follow these principles, we never go against the natural flow of energies ... In other words, aesthetics will make us better, will make us happy.
Aesthetics is underestimated or ignored. Many people think it has to be linked to a specific field, when we talk about art, but in Greek, aesthetics – αισθητική (aisthitikí) – is a big chapter of philosophy, and I think this is applied philosophy in life, this is the key to making us open the windows to see our position, to reestimating our position as humans in the universe, starting from smaller groups and environments, such as community, the people of one's country, the people of one's continent, the people of the world, and the people as hearts of the universe.
Let’s go back to the fundamental unit, the human: aesthetics will make us better, will make us acceptable in a community, will make us happy, because we make our choices according to our aesthetics and our taste.
In my opinion, everything starts with this, and we have to teach the children to watch around and to make their own choices.
For me, this is the beginning of building a personality and a more complete human being.
The soul has to do with the lower instinct, but if we don’t use aesthetic, we cannot be master of our instinct, brain and soul. Logic and instinct are two of our potentials we have, and we have to balance them.
We need knowledge, aesthetics, and awareness about the people, because if we only care about ourselves, we cannot move forward (when I say about ourselves, what I mean is about ourselves and the people closest to us), we have to be more open and caring. It doesn’t mean we need to become victims, but to be generous.
To combine logic and instinct, one must have knowledge, awareness of one's environment, and aesthetics. These are the five boxes that enable us to move forward as personalities, get developed and be a member of community or a member of the universe.
All the rest, money, respect and everything, come later, because if you are aware and you have aesthetics you can respect yourself, other people, the nature, the environment, everything.
If we change our aesthetics, we will become more aware of the environment. For example, we will not accept so much plastic around us, we will be aware to preserve traditional style of the architecture, to keep our tradition, our costumes and our culture alive.
We can be more sensitive and protective if we have a very concrete idea about what we want our environment to be and if we can clearly see ourselves in a specific environment.
In order to achieve that, we have to be very precise according to our aesthetics. for example “Kitsch environment” comes from someone who ignores the term “aesthetic”, with all the expression of his life: environment, behavior, generally.
on the practical level
Years ago, I was invited to a council in the capital of Ikaria, where we had a meeting to talk about tourism. Our usual common problems are: lack of transportation, very bad ferry connections, especially back then, old abandoned cars beside the road, cleaning the beaches, and generally the way we handle waste and how we could train the people involved in tourism to treat visitors more professionally and carefully.
When it was my turn to talk, I said that the priority was to reevaluate our aesthetics of the island, because if we manage to do this and we train new generations, showing them that there are other standards of organizing life, we will never need to talk about all those practical things separately, because they will simply choose much higher quality environment to live in, which would affect the visitors as well.
If we create a little paradise in the middle of nowhere, people will know that they will discover a diamond, it doesn’t matter if there is one boat for months or for weeks, they will come just to experience this environment with us ... They didn’t get it.
I saw that all these people were raising children.
The role of Greece
Everybody was talking about the Greek crisis, the economical one, but it wasn’t only economical, it was also general, political, cultural.
There is a book called Ikarian Utopia, written by a French philosopher Étienne Cabet in the early 20th century... He’s describing the ideal society. Ikaria was a very special society, underground, because it was based on different values compared to other areas in Greece. Compared to other Greeks, the Ikarians were snobbish. But they discovered that we are happy and with less stress here.
They started looking for us again, to see what’s going on here. So I think that Ikaria is an example of how people can reevaluate their lives. And this is a great example, not only for Greece, but generally for people. Because there are people from all over the world – from Europe, from America, from everywhere – who know Ikaria as a good source of knowledge to reassess their lives and to change their priorities in order to achieve wellbeing, to achieve well-living. I think that Ikaria could be a very good example of wellbeing and well-living for all the countries in the Western world, not only Greece. Everybody was talking about the Greek crisis, meaning the economics. But it wasn’t the economics, it was a general crisis: political, cultural, parental ... If experts would examine the phenomenon of Ikaria, they would see that Ikarians were less affected during the period of the crisis, because of the way they organise their living.
One of the values we have here is ‘less is more’. Not quantity, but quality. The roots. There are different keywords that if we were to gather all together, I could explain the dream that I have: being in a human environment, having real, good communities with other humans. Human communities, not isolated but open, in their own way. My dream is to keep the values and the measure as we know them, because it is not by coincidence.
The important thing is that we create the time. Not the other way around … This is what happened today. I was busy in the office, I had many commitments. And in a magical way, without struggling, I ended up spending the entire day with you. I enjoy it, you enjoy it, and there was no stress of ‘oh my god, what’s going on’. With a couple of phone calls, everything is possible. Everything needs its time. And it finds its time, finally. Whatever it is that you want to sort out. I think the point is to get in a no-time situation. Sometimes it works better than to force things, to make plans, to try to make things happen. Somehow we use time as the measure to organize our lives. If we just start doing the things that we want to do and just let time follow the activities, rather than setting deadlines, it seems that it works much better for our mood and the achievements that we get.
For me, development means improving our lives in terms of quality, convenience and respect. Respect for balance, for tradition, for costumes, and for the specific characteristics of the environment and its people.
For me, art is the filter of our lives, our expectations, our experiences and viomon, through which we can look into the mirror, improve our ego, improve ourselves in what we wish to communicate with our environment.
You cannot create art if you don’t have viomon, the life experience that has been transformed into the very essential part of our being, a part of us. This is what I call viomon.
If you don’t have that, if you don’t have expectations. If you don’t have a vision of life, you cannot make art. You are flat. You don’t have anything to say or to communicate.
So, how are you using these things to create, if you want to be creative? What does it mean “to create”? I create something through which I want to show my improved self, my filtered self.
I filter myself through art, and I am here, ready to show you another aspect of me and to communicate with you.
People have the need to communicate. Why don’t they communicate only by talking to one another? Because their art, what they have created, is something new, is a new body, a new creation that they present to others.
This is the improved self: a self that also includes more magical elements and less realistic ones, which they could not use in different other ways.
I am quite active; I hate the phases “I belong” or “I am a member”, I believe in freedom and action, and I have done it many times. I took action whenever I felt that it was necessary to do something.
I feel a great responsibility and duty to act, whenever I can, for the rights of the people, for the humankind, for the environment, for this place.
I strongly believe in the values of the unit, the will of the unit and the freedom of the unit; because we are units with a free will that can move things forward, it’s exactly the opposite of a community.
Cooperation is necessary, contribution of a team with ideas and actions is necessary, but I will never accept to be a member of a union and act as a part of a union because I will not accept to lose my freedom of expressing my ideas, I think that it goes against the actions.
I will give you an example: if I am painting or cleaning the road and someone comes to me and says: “Listen, as you are cleaning the road, maybe you can join our club, you can be a member of the union, 'Cleaning with the rainbow'.” If I say yes, they will say, “Oh good, you have to come, read the statement, sign and come to the council to have meetings, and clean with the rainbow”.
Maybe it wouldn’t be acceptable to clean someone’s house if the person was a refugee and he should become a member of the community , he’s not paying the annual fee, so he’s excluded, “and after all, we don’t need refugees, because they don’t speak the language … So, we don’t clean”.
I wouldn’t agree, and I would go there and clean the house.
The next day, maybe the council would have a meeting to decide whether to expel me from the club.
This action would take my freedom to act as an activist away, whereas otherwise I would be able to do it without any consequences.
So, we are back at the beginning: if you want to do something, just do it. If you have people that need support, do it.
I do not belong in any council, in any local community.
One day, a union asked me to help them build a road to connect Therma to Nealia Beach.
They worked with some volunteers, but they need thr money to pay for the wood and some workers with the machinery.
At that time, I was broke because the season had not started yet, so I gave them one of my painting, a big one, and I suggested they make a lottery.
They managed to collect 1,600 euros, and that was more than enough to cover the wages. Then, they said to me: “We only need 800 euros, so you can have the rest”. I said: “No, because you made all the effort, I gave you my painting, all the profit is yours. If there is money left, just keep it, have a big party, feed the people who work as volunteers”.
They made the party, they bought the food and at the same time and at the party, they also collected extra money.
So they asked me if I wanted to be an honorary member of the association, and I said: “No, I am here, if you need something just call me and if I can do something, I will do it, but don’t put me in the difficult position of becoming a member.
I offer as much as I can. If you believe in that, you don’t need to make your life very complicated and make up rules everywhere.
Eleonora Pauli, Urania Mytika geting ready for self portrait, BB
Released by MED Land project / photography, editing: BB / cover photo: self-portrait by Urania / audio conversations, BB and Eleonora Pauli / transcription by Laura Mangumba and Giacomo Colonnelli / text editing - proofreading: Tadej Turnšek, godfather of the story: Barbara Ćeferin
Lena from Lesbos island: “They try to convince us that we are warlords, and selfish by nature … That otherwise, we will die sooner or later, that this is the nature of our race. No, no, this concept totally fucked up our planet, this is how ‘they’ want people to think, and most do not use much brain, that is true, but I believe many young people want something different …” Lena runs a very popular restaurant, NAN, where refugees and locals cook and serve. Half a million refugees crossed Mytilini – the capital of Lesbos. Lena was also part of a start-up group for setting up Pikpa camp, which 50,000 people crossed since 2012. "You can change things by doing things, and this change will be multiplied by other people, and so on.”
There was no time for personal life.
These kind of contradictions were very difficult for me to handle.
Working in this kind of environment is a bit like being on drugs ... it is like a drug, it intoxicates you ... We are involved with these people.
Aristotle began his intensive study of biology on Lesbos. He created a classification of animals as “live-bearing and egg-bearing”. Three of his books contain descriptions of fish, birds, insects and mammals that he found around the lagoon of Kalloni on Lesbos. It is considered the first scientific work in our history.
I came on the island in 1997 ... I fell in love with the island, it was very nice, and I worked as a teacher ...
... My husband is French, and he also could not understand why this need to spend so much time and energy on the refugee issues. ... It is very hard for people who don't feel this kind of social commitment. ... They where drowning in our waters, this is a tragedy because all of this beauty suddenly vanished.
Social issues lead to economical crises, because economical crises are never detached from social crises and a crisis of values.
Pikpa camp > Why ... Because it was necessary, I would say; because when people started to come, it was under the umbrella of many organizations, local organizations of different types ... Twenty organizations at that time. We are trying to unite our efforts in dealing with the Greek crisis ... But at the same time, the Greek crisis and the refugee crisis, and of course, big waves of refugees coming to Greece and Lesbos, we had to handle it all ... I think the biggest flow of refugees.
Pikpa camp is mainly based on and seeks to promote the ideas of community,of people living together in the same community without discrimination and prejudice. It is entirely based on volunteers and on donors. Now we have a lot of people who support Lesbos solidarity and the camp.
Before I began working and helping in Pikpa, I could never imagine that people could do so many things entirely voluntarily. There where a lot of things that were difficult, but we have a committed team, and where there's a will, there's a way. And I think this power of people, trusting each other to build a relationship of trust - I think it changed our lives in many ways, both positive and negative. As I told you, personal life is very difficult to maintain. We have relations with all these nations, all these people, since 2000 BC. We should not be so afraid to work together. We should be afraid when we exclude people from the common wealth of this world.
Environmental issues are much more urgent and much more serious than any economic or political issues that we bring up. Unfortunately, the ecosystem has no voice. We let people privatize water, air, beaches, privatize public wealth ... these are all social goods.
NAN restaurant project.
First of all, we wanted to have a restaurant where people could work and make there own living. When people are trapped, only despair can come out of it. When people there earned their income, it changed the entire situation. To give them a job was one thing ... the other thing was to raise awareness that instead of fighting against these people, we can work together. We can try to find ways to support them - not all of them, but some of them, the ones that can and want to contribute to the society that welcomes them. This is the message: that it's better to work together than to work against each other.
Everyone can see what we do everyday, it is transparent. Raising awareness about food - the slow food mentality. That people should take their time to sit around the table to eat and talk and share. There are many issues that are connected to food.
This is a company in which all employees will hopefully become partners.
Hiring a refugee with no experience of how things work in certain jobs is sometimes difficult.
I would like everything that we dream of the way we want Nan to work and to be ... For Nan to become be "the mother" of many similar enterprises ...
Lesbos has been my place of choice for many years now. But you know, every place is a nice place, depending on people. Last year, there was an attack on some Afghan protesting in a sitting demonstration. They were attacked by some locals. It was a very sad realization that we are living in a bubble. We mostly have people who support us, not only financially, but also morally, mentally ...When you find out that a large part of the community is silent or even against some actions, it is not very nice. I think this is sending you away, then inviting you back.
... in a situation like this, you have to choose which side you are on, and this is what we did ...
I would like to be able to leave this place satisfied ... that it will work without our presence.
- if someone says it's a threat, you should say it is an opportunity ...
Eleonora Pauli, a radio journalist from Berlin, joined the project for almost two months and produced 5 interesting WGO stories, as well as participated in the interviews for the main stories. She also showed sailing skills!
... you can bring change, and this change can be multiplied by other people and other people ....
Released by MED Land project / photography, editing: BB / cover photo: self-portrait by Lena / audio conversations, BB and Eleonora Pauli, text editing / proof reading: Tadej Turnšek, godfather of the story: Barbara Ćeferin