shameful 30 Mar 2009 01:37 am
The number of example cases are growing, Faliron, Goudi, Villa Zographou and more. Cases of ordinary citizens taking matters into their own hands when local government has failed them.
The latest of these has been the Info Cafe campaign running at Gardenia Square in Zographou where ordinary citizens took back a large space once used as a coffee shop. Apparently the previous tenant had not paid rent to the council for several years and has left a bill of several hundred thousand euros.
Local residents have since occupied the space and have turned it into a self run “Community run cultural centre”. The city council is against them of course since they just want to find another tenant who might (or might not) pay rent. It’s a funny place, Greece. Nevertheless, the group of organisers involved here are getting things right, arranging several cool events, using the internet to announce, co-ordinate and organise more generally. Take a look at their google calendar here.
Today, while walking through Exarcheia, one of Athens’ more run down districts, I came across another citizen run action I had heard about. There is a plot of land off Navarinou str that was destined to be made a parking lot but through pressure and action of local citizens, the space has been taken back and is slowly being turned into a park. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s the city council doing the conversion: No, it’s the citizens. Today I witnessed guerrilla gardening at its best, ordinary people, fed up with urbanisation, planting trees and shrubs in the center of Athens. The day had street theater, childrens activities and more. Here’s a few pictures from there today (I didn’t take too many since Exarcheia is a risky place to take pix)
Now while on the subject of citizen action, another place that is in dire need of such activity is the Athens City Council’s Library at Agios Thomas square. The place has been closed for over two years and has at various stages been under threat of being turned into a cafeteria. I’d love to see citizens of the area take over the place and run it like the ex Info Cafe in Zographou. The place was recently broken into again and is in a truly sorry state. Take a look at the pix and judge for yourself.