Upcoming stories from the Aegean Sea, May–September 2018
From the last to the first and back, here is the list of the stories that are “in the fridge”, I hope not for long:
We had a chance to meet neurologist and psychiatrist Dr. Christodoulos Xenakis, who was born in Ikaria in 1936 – in a time when Ikaria was an occupied island. He was a refugee in Cairo those days, and later he obtained his degree in medicine in Germany.Nowadays, he lives on Ikaria most of the year. He is the founder and president of the Society of Ikarian Studies, a cultural organization that publishes books, organizes conferences and other events, and manages various projects "to improve life on Ikaria”. They have a place for archeological findings and other cultural activities. He is helping people around the Mediterranean with his medical knowledge, which includes herbs, an area that he began to study recently. Christodoulos is a sailor, and his latest passion is the Senior Regatta on Ikaria, which he organizes. “And I love to enjoy myself! I don’t have a lot of time left, but I want to enjoy until the end. Like a glass of wine. I want to enjoy and to share this experience and knowledge. I enjoy the sea when I go swimming. I enjoy women and friendship. I enjoy in the MOMENT. I don't have time to spend it with people who act half/half. People who just want to be famous or to have their names in the lights, people who don't understand the meaning of life. “I will love and I give love!”
Stratis is an islander in his heart ...He is an active photographer, filmmaker and anthropologist. He studied economics and political sciences in Thessaloniki, and socialAnthropology in Amsterdam, dealing with children and political violence. Among others, he worked as a teacher and educator with children in Palestine and with the Roma communities in Thessaloniki (Drom). He was also a researcher for the educational NGO IALE in New Delhi. As aphotographer and filmmaker, he worked on various assignments and creative projects in more than 30 countries around the world.He has published several books and heexhibits regularly worldwide. His works are exhibited in various museums are part of and private collections. He has directed several independent documentary films that won awards at international film festivals. In 2011, he initiated with a team of artists and researchers the Caravan Project, a longterm journey around Greece that aims to document and reveal inspiring personal stories. Caravan Project is considered one of the “most prominent cultural projects in South Europe” (Routledge Publications). “Our pictures reflect our intimate relationship with the world, and using these pictures to formulate a story is a way to give meaning to the experience with people and spaces”.I followed him through the jungle of Chios island, between the fiction and reality of Campus area, during his new art project, his workshop program for prisoners, his travel through remote parts of his home island ... And we became good friends.
WhenStellafelt the need to settle down, she moved from Athens to the north part of Chios island, to the village of Volisos. She chose it “for the quality of life”, which she actually got since she moved and raised children there. It suited her needs, and the need was to move out of Athens to a place where I could create something and also make a living out of it, In addition, it was very cheap to buy a house here at the time. When I came to live here I was hoping to contribute with the spirit of cooperation. But now I accept the facts as they are, and if it can not happen here and I miss the people who I can cooperate with, I can go to other places to find these people, I don’t have to insist on pressing people to believe that it is nice to cooperate. This is why I have lived in Thessaloniki for 6 months. Here, I go with the flow, if they feel it is a good idea for them, they will come together.” Stella is a healer and an artist, but locally, she is most known for her beautifully restored houses which she also rents. When I met her, she just had the opening of the exhibition she organized. It was about a collection of craft tools and pieces from the collection of an extraordinary man who has been collecting discarded pieces all his life … The day I wanted to spend with her, I ended up touring around and also visiting other people who she shares common grounds with.
Mimis–- Martoulas Dimitris "If you don't see where you're going, you go where you see." Dimitris was born and lives on Chios island, which is only 2 miles from Turkey. Already as a child, he wanted to have a farm and be independent. "I love challenges, and if I feel like doing it, I DO IT!" Living sustainable in peace with yourself and in harmony with nature is the philosophy he is practicing every day.
Rachel touched me in many ways, as an artist with sharing spirit that initiated many (art) activities and collaborations on the island of Syros. It has been 21 years since she came from France. Her life and art are one big spin of her dance, which she shares with many other artists, children and others who find a bit of child in themselves. Before she came to Syros, she was dancing in contemporary dance projects, and her dance through ever-changing life is going on and on …
Edward’s latest love is growing old sorts of vines on Syros island and producing finest organic wines. Edward came from Scotland and married Eileen, a native from Syros, with rich family roots. Eileen is now touching us as land and community artist. She runs an art center in Posedonia as well. To get to know the entire story of Edward and Eileen from Syros in Cyclades, Greece, you will need to visit www.medland.life.
“Where is the sun?” were the first words of Gorges** when he stepped out of his boat with a cup of tea. “During the winter, there was no rain at all, and now it’s like winter. We have tropical weather,” added his friend, harbor master Nikos. The previous day it was actually raining a bit, and Rachel, a French artist who has been living on the island for 21 years, was immediately out of her house enjoying the smells of the moist. She is in constant creation flow with pieces, finding beauty in them and putting them together to show their beauty even more … Gorges and Rachel are good friends. Gorges is born on Syros, and has a lifetime bond with his island – his free spirit could not have a better place to exist… Europe brought some changes that also came on the island. From this year on, he has to have a bank account to continue his work as skipper for the first time in his life.
Josif started his organic-bee honey brand. His bee families collect honey only from time. Honey is his passion, as well as his source of income.“Sundays, I’m going to see the bees. Here, you can’t live with the bees or herbs because you can’t make enough money to make a family.“ Josef is a mechanic by profession, but he grew up with bees, and his way of organic beekeeping is his meter of common sense.“I couldn’t really leave the island, Or… it would have to be reaaaaally interesting, but I can’t think of anything. Because here are my family, my bees, my friends, all the people I know, I couldn’t live in some other place.”“Last year, I got 250 kilo. It’s a lot, but not enough to survive from it, and if you want to have a family, it’s nothing! I know some people on other islands who are also doing organic honey, but not so much, because it’s really expensive to do organic honey, and people prefer not to.“
Christof permanently moved to Syros from France 25 years ago. “I want my jams to be beautiful, for the people, so that they feel happy with them. “Arome" is a boutique jam brand, from local fruits distributed by fair-trade logic to many places in Europe.For me, Syros represents Greece. “When I work the fig, I always think about the figs I used to eat when I was young, and I collected them in someone’s garden. Or when I visited my aunt, and it was fig season …I always need more time, I’m always looking for new ideas, but at the same time, I don’t feel the restraint of time. If I want to do things now, I do them now; if I want to do things in one week, I do them in one week. I really feel free.
Argeris, Felter and Josef friendshipThe challenge to pass the knowledge, to be sustainable and grow by organic methods was a horizon to move on when crises in Greece appeared and regular jobs became very uncertain.Cyclades Organics was established by a group of friends with very different background, on the island of Syros that understood the opportunity of owning some family land. They started to grow, harvest and process herbs by traditional and organic methods. Now, the three of them are running everything. They divided their tasks. It is not a full time job, but it gives them a lot of satisfaction and provides challenges that brought each one of them closer to “something“ that they would not have thought before. The story from the other side of crises is actually not unique. Cyclades are among the richest places globally in terms of biodiversity. The unique conditions of the Islands, that is the glowing sun, the Aegean Sea breeze, and strong winds, create an impressive wealth of herbs, containing outstandingly high levels of essential oils. Herbs mark the lifestyle in Syros.
Sweet Lemon is a project by Lukia, with big support of her father Plato.“My family was always planting and growing their own food, and 13 jars ago, we had a little store in Piraeus where we were selling traditional and organic food …”The current story is a restaurant on the surface, and an organic foodgrowing land in the background, which actually supplies the restaurant with food. You can eat what father, who is mostly in charge of the land, collects in the morning! Sweet Lemon is a place in a small village, which is also loved by locals and people from other parts. Lukia does not “sell” the concept of organic home grown food as something special! She knows that people will appreciate the quality and come back because they enjoy easy atmosphere. Plato’s drive is to experiment with growing methods, and also to put in practice his philosophy of compassion, deeply rooted in the preSocrates wisdom.
Ada came to Parosto to be more free, to find more peace. "Here, it feels like a world in the past, it feels more nostalgic." Ada is involved in the family business, ¸she also studies medicine, but now she is in a phase of stepping out of the "noise". She does simple jobs on the island, like at the local petrol service station, and helps in the kitchen in a restaurant. Ada wants to continue to live on Paros and start her own place – a shop with local products, a place where people would network and seed sustainable life and relations. "I want it to be a place to relax, to feel at home, and to feel Paros, and also to sell food that I cultivate myself. I want them to know me and my island. It’s about the quality that … If we live the differences, than we live the progress.“
Stelios is a craftsman – potter. “In the past, farmers made cheese and potters made pots for daily use, in order to survive. Now pottery is considered a luxury. I am lucky to be on the island where tourists come. They know about the pottery, the craftsmanship, or the art … So they buy. Development means to care for the environment, and here on the island, we have some regulations to live in the balance with the island itself ...“ Stelios is well known, respected and popular in the community, despite the fact that most people never see or really know what he actually does …
Giorgios started to live in Chios as a primary school music teacher 42 years ago. His also worked as a football coach in different places in Greece, and even Munich. "I always wanted to come back and live here, since Chios has a magical aura for me – the land, the architecture, even the people are special here. They have good humor, and cultural level is very high! Chios is like four islands in one.” He started "OPEN PATH" movement on the island. "The way they built houses and made paths in the past, it was much better that we do today. I especially like discovering old paths." There are now many people on the island that are helping him to clean and preserve old paths, and to "walking in the footsteps of others". It has become a popular grassroots movement on the island.
Vangelis is from ever on Chios , living in a spacial historical place- Campus, which was once upon a time famous for best oranges exported all over Europe, Russia. Vageliss, like many in campus still grow oranges with big respect, but they do not even pick them up since they can max 5? cents for kilo which is not worth the effort to collect and... Vagelis wanted to be a pilot, “but now I am happy that did not happen, I fill really lucky to be born here, and I do not want to change it . I visited a lot of place in Greece, Europe but I appreciate that one. Here life on the island can be very nice. You have a lot of time to be with yourself, think a lot,,it is nice. This island has a lot of history, and it is original museum. I am all the time thinking how to improve the situation with orange growing, this gives me power..the first think I did is Citrus museum to give people awareness of the value of citrus. Now I have something special in my mind, to make destinations..If I think about development in general, the main pompous is to care more for the environment.. the sense of beauty, wiping the old tradition authentic..I can imagine our life on the island like a ferry tail…….”
Evis, a sculptor born in Athens, moved to Paros and switched from being a sound engineer to the creativity of sculpture. "I could not stand the city. Here, I feel at home, I need basic things: silence, space and workshop. The everyday life of people inspires me, the repetition. The easier life, life is more physical, natural … without wanting a lot of things. This is a big village. The first years here, I was only fishing, then I felt sad for fish, and stupid. Then, I wanted to create things from nothing ... and became a sculptor.”
Eleni and Charikleia graduated in social and theoretical linguistic, and moved here from Thessaloniki, "because we did not like how the academia works, the relations between people, you do not have time for yourself”. They live in Volisos on Chios now, starting from the scratch and developing sustainable lifestyle, from the land, and thus interact with others around them … “We found out we do not need much to be happy, so to say lose money and gain your soul. If I need to say what development
Dimitri “I really believe we cannot go on like that … I am sure there will be a big catastrophe for the environment. New federalism is with our future. The problems of capitalism are the problems of environment, and also consent of people. OK, people can change, but the environment cannot recover quickly. Oil is good to do plastic thinks only ... Dimitri has lived on Samos all his life, and senses the world beyond the horizon without moving further than the nearby islands, which he visits with his sailboat. He mostly creates with stones. He engages in community orientated projects that support art, restoration, wellbeing in general …