This blog is part of a four-part series from the Renaturing Cities:…
This post has been written by Michalis Theodoropoulos of the Greek Iliosporoi network. We are very excited to share with you an update from this thriving community! Interested in what is going on in Greece? Contact Iliosporoi at info(at)iliosporoi.net for more information.
Time to change the narrative
Responding efficiently to global challenges and the multifaceted crisis requires a change of narrative, a courageous paradigm shift from growth oriented “sustainable” development towards more resilient sustainability patterns that respect the limits of the planet and humans instead of just managing them. Such a sustainability transition, detached from the imaginary of perpetuate economic growth, is already evident in many “nowtopia” initiatives applied in many parts of the world. These grassroots sustainability transition initiatives take many forms and are the building blocks for the creation of another world, more just and equitable, rather than to serve merely as painkillers for soothing the devastating effects of the current socio-economic and environmental crisis.
Practitioners of these sustainability transition initiatives live in decentralized, small scale and participatory alternatives within a circular economy model: agro-ecology and permaculture schemes, eco-villages, solidarity economy networks, producer-consumer cooperatives, community supported agriculture, ethical banks, credit cooperatives, local social currencies, decentralized renewable energy cooperatives, intentional off-grid communities, cycling initiatives, reuse and zero waste, repair cafes, collective urban gardens and orchards, worker and mutual aid cooperatives, zero carbon and co-housing projects.
Hundreds of such grassroots initiatives have sprung like mushrooms also in Greece during the crisis years. Many of these sustainability transition initiatives are characterized by the establishment of socio-economic systems where the growth of the output is not the main objective. Instead, they expand frugal techniques and convivial applications to achieve cross-cutting practical solutions, crucial to promote harmony between and within social and ecological systems, reducing competition for strategic resources, building solidarity networks and preserving quality social spaces for their peers. Much attention is given to how conscious critical consumption and a sustainable lifestyle can promote transformation at both the individual and the social level by practicing voluntary simplicity, living better with less, working with nature instead of against it, downshifting and getting back to the land.
Iliosporoi: the seeds of change
Within that framework we operate as ILIOSPOROI NETWORK since 2004, when we were formed as an affinity group of researchers, trainers, activists and practitioners. The aims of iliosporoi (Greek: sunseeds) network are to provide a bridge of communication, networking and cooperation among the various aspects of the ecological, transition and degrowth movements; to exchange and disseminate thought-provoking information, tools, experiences and best practices; and to undertake affirmative action for positive change and the creation of another world based on the principles of ecology, freedom, self-sufficiency, resilience, non-violence and self-governance.
Some of our milestone activities to promote sustainability transition in Greece include the realization of an intensive 10-day ecocamp on sustainability and self-sufficiency in Samothraki island (2009); the realization of two degrowth picnics (2010, 2011); the translation into Greek of the Catalan documentary “Homage to Catalonia II” that received dozens of public screenings nationwide and the realization of one of the first public events on degrowth in Greece (2010); the mapping and creation of a networking e-platform of grassroots initiatives (2011) that lead to the co-production with other collectives of the first alternative festival on solidarity and cooperative economy (2012), currently in the 4th consecutive year of realization; the production of the full length documentary “Another World” (2013) that also received dozens of public screenings nationwide and was screened in film festivals around Europe; the production of two books with articles on sustainable degrowth (2013, 2015); the co-organization of a 6 day intensive course on Solidarity and Cooperative economy part of the European learning partnership GROWL (2014); as well as the realization of the first degrowth convergence in Greece that hosted 38 speakers, practitioners, researchers and activists (2015).
Heliotropon: community hub on Evoia island
Iliosporoi network currently co-develop the Transition and Resilience Community-Hub/ Sustainability Training Academy HELIOTROPON, in Vlachia, Evoia island, Greece. HELIOTROPON is an off-grid, multi-functional community hub focused on applied research, experimentation and demonstration of ecological and social innovations. The aim is to utilize best practices, knowledge and experiences from sustainability transition, eco-community and degrowth initiatives, as well as other grassroots community experiments, in order to create a family oriented community hub, sustainable, equitable and economically viable for all its core members.
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