The speach of the chair of the social cooperative ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL Nikos Chrysogelos during the ceremony for the awarding of the European Citizen’s Prize στο Ευρωκοινοβούλιο, on 9th of October 2018, in the European Parliament. It was the 4th award for ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL.
It is a great honor for Anemos Ananeosis/Wind of Renewal to have been awarded the European Citizen’s Prize.
In fact, the European project was born the day the Second World War ended on May 8th 1945. We need to remember the images of survivors amongst the ruins, who found the will within themselves to passionately dance the end of this devastating war. Some dreamed of an end of war era and the creation of a European peace.
Seventy-three years later, many have forgotten the horrors of war or are disappointed by the current European Union. Europe, our common home, really needs renewal. It is not enough to argue that the EU contributes to the absence of war, we must do more to revitalize the European project: greater integration, mutual understanding – mutual respect, social cohesion, no one abandoned or left behind. It’s economy needs to be more responsible, green, sustainable. There needs to be more opportunities for young people, favorable conditions for healthy aging, revitalization of the social model, protection of the climate and the planet.
We at Wind of Renewal have chosen to be part of the changes we want to see made. That is why our actions and activities aim at revitalizing the social model through the innovations we seek, turning the economy in a circular / green direction, turning problems into opportunities for solutions, mutual understanding and cooperation, dialogue and integration of the social and environmental dimension into the economy.
Europe and every society has experienced displacement and being refugees at different times. The problem in European societies is not the large number of refugees but the fear in the face of something different. There is often a lack of innovation to support integrate, to turn this challenge into an opportunity for the benefit of these societies, for the sustainable prosperity of all.
We developed such a center of integrated support and preparation for the integration of 600 refugees in a modern European society, a model of empowerment through the community, refugees from 22 ethnicities who spoke 14 different languages and dialects felt they were members of the same community, the WELCOMMON (WELCOME in Common).
400 representatives of institutions, 15 universities, hundreds of city representatives, social and international organizations, MPs and MEPs visited and continue to visit us to discuss WELCOMMON. The team did not only comprise the 30staff members, but also 240 volunteers from many countries who gave a part of themselves to this common cause.
We have been unable to continue our program because there are no flexible tools to finance such innovative policies.
However, we did not give up. We changed, we adapted, we created an innovative hostel, the WELCOMMON HOSTEL, which combines social entrepreneurship, sustainable tourism models, social inclusion of refugees and vulnerable groups, professional integration, and strengthening of the social and green economy. We implemented the concept of circular economy as we reused many furniture and objects on the basis of artistic and functional perception. 5 floors have simple but beautiful rooms for tourists interested in the creative side of Athens, social and cultural life, social economy, and the environment. But two floors are used for language, cooking, painting, gardening lessons for children, adolescents and adult refugees. These activities are realized with the help of dozens of volunteers and the collaboration of organizations from different European countries as well as outside the EU. We create communities in which tourists, students, volunteers, refugees, and local all take part in.
Despite the difficulties faced, we are moving forward with the solidarity of many people and institutions such as the Respect for Greece Citizens’ Initiative, European Foundations, social solidarity bodies and networks. From Day One we have worked with European networks on issues relating to social economy, energy transition, climate protection like: Social Economy Europe, το Rre-use, το CICOPA/CECOP, το ENSIE, το REScoop, REVES etc.
Yes, this is a Europe that everyone recognizes and respects, a Europe of responsibility, solidarity, innovation, cohesion, mutual respect, a microcosm of how today’s and tomorrow’s Europe can be with everyone’s contribution.
We are trying to make our common European home modern, social, green, less disastrous for the environment and the climate. We are not alone, many are trying to revive the European dream and re-inspire European citizens. We feel great responsibility in receiving this prize and will step up our efforts to stand out and meet the great challenges of our times.
Thank you. We are citizens, we are active citizens, we are Europeans.
Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal