A day at the Acropolis Museum together with refugees

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A day at the museum 

by Chiara-Lou Parriaud

On the 18th of June 2021, residents of the Welcommon Hostel and volunteers went to visit the Acropolis Museum, the exceptional sanctuary of Greek ancient artefacts found on the grounds of the Acropolis. Children and adults alike were eager to discover and understand the Ancient Greek history that has shaped the face of their city of residence. 

After a long walk under the blazing hellenic sun from Kapodistriou street to Dionysiou Areopagitou street, the group finally reached its destination. We were instantly drawn to the large glass panes of the museum that reflected the white columns of the Acropolis, the modern structure contrasting heavily with the Antique wonders the building contained. The children ran around and played outside the facility, marvelling at the ruins of an ancient Athenian neighborhood that were underneath the glass floor on which they stood. 

The “Welcommon team” at the Acropolis Museum – Children and volunteers absorbed in the contemplation of the Athenian ruins. 

In the museum, each individual gazed at the archeological wonders of its liking. While some observed the ancient sculptures, others wondered at the ancient greek inscriptions on the marble steles. Children were fascinated by several models of the Acropolis over the years built for the purpose of the exhibition, the ancient citadel changing its outlook a myriad of times from the 5th century BC to today, going from a residence for kings, to a mythical place for the celebration of gods to a tourist attraction. Imagining a distant Athens populated by a different society with customs at odds with our contemporary times seemed to highly intrigue them. The mothers of the families took an incalculable amount of pictures of the superb view of the Acropolis, of the museum and of their children, all of which will serve as beautiful memories of this particular day. 

After two hours of strolling through rows of magnificent remnants of Antiquity, our group emerged from the museum with sparkles in our eyes, full of new knowledge on the wonders of the previous Greek centuries. No matter the age or the nationality, each individual thoroughly enjoyed this cultural outing, which is a testimony to the social and cultural atmosphere of the Welcommon Hostel, as residents and volunteers alike learned, connected and got inspired together, as a community. 

Here is what some of the residents had to say about their day at the museum. 

I really enjoyed going to the museum. It’s a good place for me to learn and I got to learn from the past.”

I was fascinated by the Greek mythological scenes that were depicted onto the marbled statues. Everyone should try to get familiar with these very interesting aspects of history. I was also intrigued by the story behind the construction of the monumental Parthenon, and the backstory behind the stones used to build the temple as well as the statues. I learned a lot, and I would love to go again.”’

I had already been to the museum, but it was very nice to go with everyone from the Hostel – it’s always nicer to go with friends and as a community.” 

Anemos Anenosis, the social cooperative and all the Welcommon Team would especially like to thank the Acropolis Museum’s president and staff members for their cooperation in the organisation of this special day. 

Lisa W., one of our volunteers: “It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever made”

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Hello, I am Lisa

I was volunteering with Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal at the Welcommon Hostel in Athens, from the beginning of January to the end of June 2021.

It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever made. I think I will never forget the time in the hostel. I learned so much and my experience changed me in a very positive way. I learned a lot and my point of view changed in so many things! I met so many interesting people from different countries, different cultures and they all had different stories. We lived together, cooked together, laughed together and it felt like living in a big family. I think in this time I lost any kind of prejudice I’ve ever had before!

My two main Jobs where giving English and German lessons.

In the beginning it was pretty hard for me to stand in front of a group of people and to teach them a new language and I realized that it takes a lot of confidence. But after a while I got used to this new „teacher“ position and I started having fun giving lessons.

In the German lessons we did a lot of grammar work and it was a really new experience for me to teach my own mother language. I never realized before how tricky the German language can be and I think even me I learned a lot of new things about my language while teaching it.

A good thing was that all my German students where able to speak English so we had a good way to communicate with each other.

The situation in the english lesson was totally different because most of the time I didn’t had a language in common with my students. But I used a lot of pictures and body language and so we managed the communication most of the time pretty well. The main topics in my English lessons where vocabularies and dialogues. I tried to teach them the most important communication skills like for example asking for the bus station or calling a doctor.

Another activity I was doing was the „women’s sport class“. When I arrived at the hostel there was already a normal sports class, but I realized, that I never saw any women participating in this class. So I decided to start a sport class JUST for women and girls. I think that many women where very happy about this offer, because of cultural reasons most of them didn’t feel comfortable to do sport in front of men. In our sport class we did a lot of fitness, yoga and also dancing and we had a lot of fun together. I think that doing sport and being active is something really important if you are in a difficult live situation and I had the feeling that doing sport was very helpful for a lot of the women in the hostel. 

In the afternoon when the classes were finished, we used to some activity with the kids of hostel.

In winter we did a lot of different group games inside and when the weather became better we used to go with the kids to a playground in the neighborhood. I had a lot of fun playing with the kids and it was a really good experience having responsibility for a group of children.

Also part of the work in the hostel was to support our receptionists. Usually I worked volunteering three times six hours per week at the reception of our hostel. The work at the reception included the cleaning of the entrance room and the bar, giving hygiene articles to our residents and being responsible for our laundry room. This part of the work was a bit different to the other activities but I also enjoined because working at the reception means to have a lot of interactions with the residents (almost all of them refugees at the moment) and it also shows you what it means to work in a hostel or hotel.

Aside of all these things our volunteer group organized a couple of group activities that should bring all the residents of the hostel together. We did for example a cooking evening where we ate together and everybody was cooking his/her traditional food. Or a summer party where we danced together and learned different cultural dances. We also went to the beach with some residents and made cinema evenings in our backyard. It was a really feeling to see everybody coming together and having fun, no matter where they come from, what they believed in or which language they were speaking.

I think I will never forget the time in the hostel. I learned so much and my experience changed me in a very positive way.

Lisa Wittich

Ines: Volunteering in the Welcommon Hostel with Wind of Renewal for Social and Green Innovation

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Volunteering in the Welcommon Hostel with Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal for Social and Green Innovation
– Volunteer from October 2020 to March 2021

My name is Inès Doumandji. I am a 22years old French girl, and I studied Psychology. After the end of my bachelor, I decided to take a year off studies to focus on what I really want to do after my Master: working with refugees.

Since I cannot work as a psychologist for refugees yet, I still decided to start this crazy adventure in the social environment by volunteering in Greece with refugees. I found Anemos Ananeosis and the Welcommon Hostel on the website Workaway and I thought that it was the perfect opportunity for me to participate in a European Solidarity Corps project: I get to live for free in the hostel with the migrants in exchange of sharing what I can with them and learning so much from them participating in the European Solidarity Corps “Green Social Innovation for young persons” implemented by Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal.

I started volunteering in the project in the very beginning of October 2020 and I stopped in March 2021. Those 6 months felt like 2. I did not plan on staying that long there, but I got caught by the beauty of the place. Anemos Ananeosis and the Welcommon Hostel have beautiful projects about social and environmental impact that follow my principles and made me feel like I have my place here.

At the beginning I started exclusively teaching German and English to refugees not living in the hostel, and just visiting for the classes. But when Covid-19 hit harder, the restrictions became stricter and we could not welcome people from outside of the hostel anymore, so we decided to teach to the residents.

After a while, different activities were added to the German and English classes. Because of lockdown, the need that we, as volunteers had, and that the residents (almost all refugees) had to take part of more different activities inside of the hostel grew. That is when we created the sport classes, and the various activities like IT class, activities with children (games in English mostly), and games with adults! Our schedule became quite busy but also more diverse and it was very interesting.

After a while, we also decided to take part of the work that needs to be done at the reception as all the residents were more or less homeless refugees. We were all together doing different things for the empowerment of the hosted families and their social inclusion based on a very innovative methods!

The volunteers participating in A2 activities, organized a lot of different projects, a week about environment where we talked about recycling, consuming reasonably, taking care of our planet.

A beauty activity that women could join, where Syrian, Kurdish, Cameroons, Afghan, French, German, Italian and Belgian women joined together to have some self-care time which was also a lot of fun.

We also created some games in the hostel with pictures, where two teams were fighting to find where the pictures were taken in the hostel… that was all a lot of fun.

But this is not all. The things that I will mostly remember about these 6 months is the love that children gave me, all the drawings that I will bring back to France in my suitcase, the weird ways of communicating that we end up developing to be able to understand each other, the delicious meals from all around the world that people cooked and invited me to try, all the laughter, all the time google translation saved or failed us etc…

I would recommend this experience to anyone, I arrived this hostel way younger in my mind than I will leave it, that is for sure !

Welcommon Hostel, one of the best sivil society initiatives of the Euro-Med Region

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“Long Night of Ideas”
O Άνεμος Ανανέωσης και το Welcommonhostel μεταξύ των 6 καλύτερων Ευρω-Μεσογειακών πρωτοβουλιών της κοινωνίας των πολιτών (best of) που θα παρουσιαστούν από τους Euromed Citizen Reporters, ζωντανά σε μια διαδικτυακή εκδήλωση από τη Γερμανία στο πλαίσιο της “Long Night of Ideas”, την Δευτέρα 7 Ιουνίου, στις 21.00 (CEST) (22.00 στην Αθήνα)
Συνδεθείτε εδώ: https://mediapool.expo-ip.com/stand/36
Θα παρουσιαστούν
– Welcommon Hostel και Άνεμος Ανανέωσης (Ελλάδα)
– Banlastic Egypt (Αίγυπτος)
– Sustainable Cooperation for Peace & Security (Ιταλία)
– Youth Dialogue Platform (Λιβύη)
– KITABI (Μαρόκο)
– SΕPT (Λίβανος)
Οι Euromed Citizen Reporters (We are still here! EuroMed Citizen Reporters” είναι ένα πρόγραμμα του Γερμανικού Δικτύου Anna Lindh Foundation (για τον διάλογο των πολιτισμών Ευρώπη-Μεσόγειο) Anna Lindh Stiftung και του ιδρύματος Candid Foundation gGmbH που υποστηρίχθηκε από το Γερμανικό Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών Auswärtiges Amt
– Το Welcommonhostel (Αθήνα) είναι ένα καινοτόμο #hostel βιώσιμου τουρισμού αλλά και κέντρο για την προώθηση της κοινωνικής και πράσινης καινοτομίας, της κοινωνικής ενδυνάμωσης και ένταξης, της δράσης για το κλίμα και της ενεργειακής μετάβασης, που δημιουργήθηκε από τον Άνεμο Ανανέωσης
– Η δράση Banlastic Egypt είναι μια πρωτοβουλία στην Αλεξάνδρεια Αιγύπτου για την απαγόρευση των πλαστικών μιας χρήσης στη χώρα, προσφέροντας εναλλακτικές λύσεις πράσινων προϊόντων και ευαισθητοποιώντας ευρύτερα με εργαστήρια και καθαρισμούς ακτών
– Η Sustainable Cooperation for Peace & Security @SustainableCoo (Ιταλία) είναι μια πρωτοβουλία για την προώθηση της βιωσιμότητας, της ειρήνης και της ασφάλειας, με έμφαση στις γυναίκες και τη νεολαία
– Η Youth Dialogue Platform @YDPLibya (Λιβύη) είναι μια πρωτοβουλία που προωθεί την ενδυνάμωση των νέων μέσω του διαλόγου μεταξύ των Λίβυων και πέρα από αυτούς
– Η KITABI (Μαρόκο) είναι μια βιβλιοθήκη για παιδιά
– Η SEPT (Save Energy Plant Trees) όπως λέει ο τίτλος της “εξοικονομήστε ενέργεια, φυτέψτε δέντρα) (Λίβανος – Βηρυττός)
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“Long Night of Ideas” #civilsociety is contributing a lot to overcome challenges of our times its Best Of will be livestreamed on June 7th!
The premiere of #EuroMed Citizen Visions” during the #lndi21 by Auswärtiges Amt
with
– Sustainable Cooperation for Peace & Security @SustainableCoo
– KITABI
– @YDPLibya
– SEPT
Monday 7th of June, on 21.00 Central European Summer Time (CEST) (22.00, Athens time 22.00)
Welcommonhostel is an innovative hostel for sustainable tourism open to all the travellers, as well as a centre for social and green innovation, social empowerment and inclusion, art, intercultural dialogue, climate action and energy transition
Banlastic Egypt aims to ban single use plastic in Egypt by offering alternative green products and by spreading awareness through workshops and beach cleanups
– Sustainable Cooperation for Peace & Security @SustainableCoο Sustainable Development Goals through UNSCR 1325 “Women Peace and Security” and 2250 “Youth Peace and Security”. From Italy to the Earth globe
– Youth Dialogue Platform @YDPLibya is an initiative that promotes Youth empowerment through dialogue among Libyans and beyond (online and offline) #UNSCR2250
– KITABI (Morocco) is a children’s library
– SEPT (Save Energy Plant Trees) (Lebanon- Beirut). Neighborhood help in Lebanon www.sept-ngo.org
June 7th, 9 p.m. CEST –
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“Lange Nacht der Ideen” #twitterchallenge Mit unserer Idee wird die Kreativität und Innovationskraft von interkultureller Zivilgesellschaft sichtbar. Am 7. Juni um 21 Uhr in der 20min
Welcommonhostel Banlastic Egypt @SustainableCoo KIBATE SEPT @YDPLibya
Show “EuroMed Citizen Visions” unter https://mediapool.expo-ip.com/stand/36
Diese „Best-of-Show“ zivilgesellschaftlicher Initiativen der euro-mediterranen Region zeigt, wie neue kreative Formen des interkulturellen Dialogs, der aktiven Bürgerschaft und der gesellschaftlichen Partizipation an der Basis und lokal initiiert und gestaltet werden – trotz teilweise geschlossener physischer Grenzen und eingeschränkter Bewegungs- und Begegnungsmöglichkeiten vor Ort.
Die „Citizen Reporters“ aus Libyen, Ägypten, Italien, Griechenland und dem Libanon kommen selbst zu Wort und präsentieren lokale Aktivitäten und Initiativen, die Hoffnung, Solidarität und Visionen von einer aktiven, vielfältigen und agilen internationalen Zivilgesellschaft vermitteln.
Das Format setzt das Projekt „We are still here! EuroMed Citizen Reporters“ fort und findet in Kooperation mit der Anna Lindh Foundation statt.
Die 20-minütige Show wird am 7. Juni um 21:00 Uhr live gestreamt.
Die Premiere während der „Langen Nacht der Ideen 2021“ ist zugleich der Startschuss für die Publikation einer Vielzahl von zivilgesellschaftlichen Initiativen auf der Website.
#lndi21 @zak_kiτ @EuroMedCR

 

Combining Green Roofs with Solar Power and Cooling

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by Hartwig Berger,

Sekretariat für Zukunftsforschung

As a result of their study-trips in Berlin, the EUKI-YESclima teams from Athens and Cádiz have elaborated the general proposal “Smart Roofs” for cities in Southern Europe.

In our home regions we have to take care to reduce greenhouse gases and also for climate adaptation, in particular during extreme heat periods. Thus, our proposal is to combine the roof-greening of buildings with solar panels moving with the course of the sun, so giving more power during the day. The roofs shall be cultivated with plants, which are resistant against dryness, sowed in a soil mixed with material conserving rainwater, for example by extended clay. At the same time, the green zone on the top insulates the building to a certain extent and cools in hot periods the environment via the evaporation of the plants.

Because of serious periods of water scarcity to be expected in the near future, in the outside of the buildings we recommend “rainwater harvesting”: to collect the rain in artificial lakes of subterranean stores, to irrigate trees and plants in the surrounding and, more sophisticated, also for water flushing in toilets.

We think of combining the green solar roof with an innovative system of cooling buildings, which was elaborated and is at present tested by scientists in the universities of Sevilla and Cádiz. This system, named “CAVE” , seeks to exploit the possibilities of cooling by evaporation and ventilation, combined with a thermal insulation of the roof. This same concept was applied in the energy-audits which are elaborated by the YESclima team of Cádiz for schools in towns of the province. Now we think to propose it for urban buildings in general.

The cities in our home regions offer great opportunities, but have also to cope with dangerous weeks in summertime. The opportunity is the power of sun, giving much better results in generating electricity than in Northern European areas. The danger consists in extreme heat periods causing serious water crisis. Let us combine the fight against the growing climate crisis with our activities for better life quality in our cities.

Let´s go ahead.
Adelante.
Emprós

Photo: Sebastian Stragies: Students of the YESclima project with Hartwig Berger

Responsible for the content is the named author / organisation: YESclima, Hartwig Berger

HOSCARs 2021: Welcommon Hostel is named Most EXTRAORDINARY Hostel Hero in the world 

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HOSCARs 2021: Welcommon Hostel is named one of the best hostels in the world / Welcommon Hostel is named Most EXTRAORDINARY Hostel Hero in the world

Hostelworld announces the winners of its 19th annual HOSCAR awards

26 April 2021: Welcommon Hostel in Greece, was recognised as the most EXTRAORDINARY Hostel Hero by leading Online Travel Agent (OTA) focused on the hostel market, Hostelworld

For 19 years, the HOSCARs (Hostelworld Customer Annual Ratings) have acknowledged hostels from all four corners of the globe with the highest customer reviews and ratings. This year, with the world in lockdown and travel put on hold, the awards have been restructured to recognise the incredible work hostels have been doing in their communities, and to support the industry, during the global pandemic.

Representing Greece, Welcommon Hostel was crowned most EXTRAORDINARY Hostel Hero by a panel of expert travel judges and more than 20,000 votes by hostel travellers all around the world.

Why WELCOMMON HOSTEL was named as the most EXTRAORDINARY Hostel Hero: As of June 2020, even the sustainable tourism collapsed and at the same time thousands of recognized refugees and asylum seekers in Greece were left homeless in the midst of a global pandemic, we decided to host a number of refugees, the most vulnerable between them, such as survivors of sexual violence, torture and ill treatment, the elderly, people with chronic diseases, pregnants and mothers with new borned babies. From 2016 on we offer interactive, inclusive, intercultural, non formal education and courses (language lessons, art, environmental and climate awareness, music) and green and social economy workshops open for all: volunteers, refugees, migrants, travellers, nomads workers, Erasmus. locals with the suport of more than 340 volunteers from all over the world. The vision for the Welcommon Hostel is to be a sustainable solution to host all the travellers. If you’ve ever come into the Welcommon you probably felt that it is a special place, a place where you can meet people, learn from them… it is a community. Special place, people, values.

Fabrizio Giulio, Chief Supply Officer at Hostelworld, said: “This year’s HOSCARs not only commemorate a difficult year for the hostel industry, but allow us to celebrate the incredible efforts our hostel partners have taken during this time. Hostels around the world have used this time to focus on becoming more sustainable, supporting their local communities or renovating their hostels to be as safe as possible for when travel resumes — we wanted to recognise all their achievements.

The HOSCARs are equally valuable to our community, as they provide a trusted way for our customers to identify the experience they want from their travels, and where to find it. It was important that our customers were still a crucial part of the awards and involved in selecting the hostels that deserve to be recognised for their excellence and extraordinary efforts.”

You can find full list of winners here: www.hostelworld.com/hoscars

Notes to editors 

The HOSCARs (Hostelworld Customer Annual Ratings) have been running since 2002 and are usually determined based on reviews from millions of customers made over the previous 12 months. Due to COVID-19 and the impact on travel the awards feature a new set of categories and a different judging system in comparison to previous years.

About Hostelworld 

Hostelworld, the leading global Online Travel Agent (OTA) focused on the hostel market, inspires adventurous minds to experience new places, meet new people and come back with extraordinary stories to tell. Hostelworld customers aren’t your average travellers; they are driven by the need for unique experiences, social connections and empowering adventures. It’s the social nature of hostels that turbocharges their global adventures and enables them to Meet the World.

Hostelworld has over 20 years’ experience, with more than 13 million reviews across 17,000+ hostels in 179 countries, making it the leading online hub for social travel. Its website operates in 19 different languages and mobile app in 13.

The Hostelworld Group went public in November 2015, listing on the main London and Dublin stock exchanges. Headquartered in Dublin, Hostelworld has offices around the world in London, Shanghai, Sydney and Porto.

About Welcommon Hostel

The WELCOMMON HOSTEL is a seven-floor facility building in the center of Athens that offers accommodation for people of all ages and places, a hostel for sustainable tourism, a proposal for accommodation of social, cultural and environmental active groups and persons during their stay in Athens. Our moto is “sleep for dreaming, be active for cultural, social and environmental /climate issues”. The WELCOMMON HOSTEL is run by the social cooperative Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal, established in 2014 for the promotion of social and green innovation, sustainable tourism, environmental and climate potection, energy transition, social inclusion and intercultural dialogue.

The WELCOMMON Hostel is something more than just a nice hostel with social impact. It is also a place for social gathering and experiment, a center for innovation and art, as well as a centre for social and green innovation and economy, for social and job integration for Greek locals, migrants and refugees.

Our guests are all different travellers (tourists, volunteers, erasmus students, nomads-workers, newcomers, refugees). Our vision is to bring close people from all over the world without discrimination, to enable them to communicate, to be entertained and to explore the creative side of Athens. Our guests have the opportunity to participate directly and indirectly in green, social, humanitarian and inclusive – intercultural projects, events and activities. They can also contribute with their ideas and experience. WELCOMMON Hostel means welcome in common – together.

The hostel highlights the positive impact that sustainable tourism – and cooperatives and social enterprises – have on communities, revitalizing neighborhoods, making bridges between communities, social groups, newcomers and local people.

Judging Panel 🔮 of HOSCARS Awards 2021

If you would like to learn more about us and support our project, please visit:

You can contact us: windofrenewal@gmail.com

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Donations for our social activities  during COVID-19

Please send us your details for the official invoice for your donation.

ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL

Cooperative Bank of Karditsa

ΙΒΑΝ GR 7608900100003010003540200

Swift Code STKAGRA1

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ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL

Piraeus Bank

IBAN: GR83 0172 0180 0050 1807 7868 253

Piraeus’s BIC code is PIRBGRAA

Open letter about the Greek Recovery and Resilience Plan: opacity and lack of participation

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Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal participates in the initiative COMMON GROUND connecting for social change, together with a number of civil society’sorganisations 

Over the past few weeks, we have been busy organizing an initiative to express civil society’s collective dismay and concern about being left out of the design and implementation of Greece’s COVID-19 recovery plan. 

Greece will receive €32 billion from the EU in a combination of grants and loans. We must ensure that this substantial amount of money is not wasted on ineffective or exclusive policies, but rather goes toward meeting the needs of all people living in Greece, especially those in greatest need of support. In other words, spending must prioritize green and socially just initiatives.

We’ve heard lots of rhetoric from the EU and the Greek government about how these funds will grow the economy, improve society, fight climate change, and improve resilience so we can weather the next storm, whether it comes in the form of another pandemic or something else. But how will this money actually be spent? Will it simply pay lip service to these noble goals or will it really transform society’s underlying problems and structural flaws that have led us into the current mess? 

In this spirit, we and Greenpeace have submitted an open letter to Deputy Finance Minister Skylakakis, co-signed by 70+ of our civil society peers, including many of you reading this. Our demands are clear: don’t leave us out of the process of designing the recovery initiatives because we, the people on the ground working with and representing some of society’s most vulnerable communities, understand Greece’s needs and we have thoughtful, detailed proposals on how we can meet them. Our input will not only strengthen the plan’s proposals but will also generate public buy-in, which is crucial to the plan’s success. We also insist on full transparency and accountability.

With the EU deadline looming, we understood that time was running out for the National Recovery and Resilience Plan to benefit from civil society’s valuable insights. Accordingly, last week on March 23rd, we and Greenpeace submitted an open letter to Deputy Finance Minister Mr. Skylakakis demanding meaningful opportunities to contribute to the recovery plan.

We have still not received a response. And yet, a few days later, the Greek cabinet approved a final version of the plan, announced it publically, and is expected to submit it to parliament this week before sending it to Brussels for approval. This leaves no time for us or Greek MPs to give feedback on the plan’s content and strategic directions (it’s hefty, at an estimated 2,000 pages!) But we are not giving up! There is still time to act.

Opne letter to Depute Finance Minister Mr Skylakakis and Prime Minister Mr Mitsotakis 

To Deputy Minister of Finance, Theodoros Skylakakis

CC: Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

       Minister of Finance, Christos Staikouras

       The European Commission Recovery and Resilience Task Force (RECOVER)

Athens, Tuesday 23rd March 2021

Open letter about the Greek Recovery and Resilience Plan: opacity and lack of participation

Dear Mr. Minister,

The signatory Civil Society Organisations would like to express our concerns about the opacity in the design and adoption of the Greek Recovery and Resilience Plan. The EU recovery plan is a huge opportunity for member states to address the economic and social consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and to create greener and fairer societies that are resilient to future challenges. At this critical time when the pandemic is affecting millions of lives and especially the most vulnerable populations, it is very important that such an opportunity is not missed.

The absence of broad social participation in the formulation of the Recovery and Resilience Plan worries us intensely. We recall that under Article 18.4 (q) of the Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation, member states must include “a summary of the consultation process carried out with local and regional authorities, social partners, civil society organisations, youth organisations and other relevant stakeholders for the preparation and implementation of the plan and information on how the input of stakeholders is reflected in the plan.”

So far however, planning procedures for the Recovery and Resilience Plan have starkly contrasted the spirit of this regulation. More specifically:

  1. The virtual public consultation on the “Strategic Directions of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan” posted by the Ministry of Finance on 25 November 2020 consisted only of a general text with unclear terms and lacked a roadmap for implementation. As such, it is impossible for interested parties to thoroughly evaluate the proposal since the complete draft submitted by Greece to the European Commission has not been made publicly available. 
  2. Greece sent the draft Recovery and Resilience Plan to the European Commission before the end of the public consultation period, thus it excluded the feedback submitted by civil society during the consultation process. 
  3. The public consultation report has not been published and we have not received any information on if and how the proposals we submitted were taken into account in revising the plan, when the revisions will be complete, or what the next steps will be. 
  4. We remain in the dark regarding procedures for submitting the final draft to the EU as well as whether stakeholders will be given the opportunity to provide feedback on the final text, which will outline how resources will be allocated. We are concerned that submitting the final plan for public consultation only at the end of the revision process will exclude Greek society from substantially contributing to the plan’s development. 

For all the above reasons, we respectfully insist on full transparency regarding the development of sustainable recovery policies, both for the sake of monitoring and accountability and in order to keep the citizenry informed, which are essential for their successful implementation.

Mr. Minister, the recent crises (economic, refugee, pandemic) have deepened social inequalities in our country and require us to make radical changes to mitigate their effects on society. Greece should prioritise social inclusion by targeting typically overlooked populations such as impoverished households, the homeless, migrants, and refugees. The country also needs to invest in stronger social and labour policies and in public health with an emphasis on prevention, education and culture. The digital transition is an essential tool for achieving these goals. At the same time, measures must be taken to protect the environment and reduce the effects of climate change in order to prevent future crises and ensure a swift transition to a green and just economy.  

To do this, the Greek government must:

  • Invite broader swaths of society, and in particular civil society with relevant knowledge and experience, to submit proposals that will be integrated into the “Strategic Directions of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan”
  • Prepare a detailed action plan outlining proposed programmes, objectives, beneficiaries and expected impact, which includes valid environmental, social and economic indicators to assess the projects’ progress based on the stated priorities. All programmes and objectives must meet the following criteria: 

-Ensure a sustainable future 

-Contribute to social justice 

-Safeguard our fundamental rights

  • Ensure a meaningful participation of all stakeholders, including civil society organisations, in the design, implementation and monitoring of the Recovery and Resilience Plan. This process must take place before the government submits its plan at the end of April 2021
  • Improve clarity and transparency around the Recovery and Resilience Plan. This includes publicising available funding instruments and outlining priorities at both the EU and national levels.  Regular information exchange sessions with stakeholders and citizen information campaigns are also necessary, among other things.

We consider the above measures necessary not only for the proper use of available public resources but also in order to garner citizen support for the initiative. Finally, we emphasise that for the Recovery and Resilience Plan to have a positive effect, it should not be seen as a stand-alone initiative. Rather, it should constitute part of a horizontal and coordinated effort to strengthen public policies that, combined with other initiatives and funding opportunities, will lead us to a better and more sustainable future. Policies and programmes that do not align with the plan but lead us astray from strategic objectives agreed upon by the EU, must be ruled out or redesigned in a manner that supports a green and fair recovery.

We remain at your disposal for any discussion and contribution to the formulation of a national recovery plan that reflects Greece’s real needs for a sustainable and socially just future.

Yours sincerely,

The undersigned organisations

  1. ActionAid Hellas
  2. Action for Wildlife
  3. ANTIGONE – Information and Documentation Centre on Racism, Ecology, Peace and Non Violence
  4. Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation
  5. Arion – Cetacean Rescue and Rehabilitation Research Center
  6. ARSIS – Association for the Social Support Youth
  7. Association of Social Responsibility for Children and Youth -Skep 
  8. Attica Bike Community – Podilattiki Koinotita
  9. Better Days Greece
  10. Boroume
  11. Callisto
  12. Centre for Research on Women’s Issues “Diotima”
  13. Changemakers Lab
  14. Common Ground Greece
  15. Doctors of the World Greece 
  16. DRC Greece
  17. ECHO100PLUS
  18. Ecocity
  19. Ecological Movement of Drama
  20. Ecological Movement of Patras
  21. Ecological Movement of Thessaloniki
  22. Ecological Recycling Society
  23. ELIX
  24. Emfasis Foundation
  25. Ethelon
  26. European Expression 
  27. Fenix – Humanitarian Legal Aid
  28. Food On 
  29. Friends of Monte
  30. Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality and Diversity
  31. GIVMED 
  32. Greek Association of People Living with HIV “Positive Voice”
  33. Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)
  34. Greek Forum of Migrants
  35. Greek Forum of Refugees
  36. Greek Housing Network
  37. Greenpeace Greece
  38. Hellenic Liver Patient Association “Prometheus”
  39. HIAS
  40. HIGGS
  41. HumanRights360
  42. International Rescue Committee (IRC)
  43. Irida Women’s Center
  44. iSEA
  45. Ithaca
  46. Ithaca Laundry
  47. Lesvos Solidarity 
  48. MEDASSET
  49. Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos – MedINA
  50. Melissa Network
  51. METAdrasi – Action for Migration and Development
  52. Mobile Info Team (MIT)
  53. Nature Friends Greece
  54. Network for Children’s Rights
  55. NPCP “Me Alla Matia”
  56. Odyssea
  57. Organization Earth
  58. Organization Tulipa Gulimi
  59. Pan-hellenic Network of Ecological Organizations
  60. People Behind
  61. Praksis
  62. Promitheas  
  63. Refugee Rights Europe
  64. Samos Volunteers
  65. Schedia Street Magazine
  66. Social Action and Innovation Center
  67. Society for the Care of Minors and Youth
  68. SolidarityNow
  69. SOS Children’s Villages
  70. Steps
  71. Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece, affiliated to the Council of Europe Network of Schools
  72. Syn-eirmos NGO of Social Solidarity
  73. Terre des hommes Hellas
  74. Thalassa of Solidarity
  75. The Bee Camp
  76. The Good House
  77. The Green Tank
  78. The HOME Project
  79. Union for the Protection of the Environment of the Corinthian-Patra Gulf – O Nireas
  80. Velos Youth
  81. We are Solomon
  82. Wind of Renewal
  83. WWF Greece

CALL TO ACTION!

Follow our suggestions, or invent your own action:

  • Inform parliamentarians (all of them or selected ones) that civil society was excluded from all stages of developing the National Recovery Plan and that this is not okay.  Call them, email them, use social media, and even fax them!
  • Email Deputy Finance Minister Skylakakis demanding full transparency and to be involved in the subsequent phases of the recovery plan.
  • Tell Prime Minister Mitsotakis that exclusion is not an option! Explain that a green and just recovery requires transparency and inclusive participation.
  • Encourage your peers, colleagues, donors, friends, partners, members, etc. to do the same in their individual capacities. We must all be well-informed, active citizens and make clear to our government that we are following developments closely and will hold them accountable.
Whatever action you chose to take, please do it quickly as time is of the essence! And please keep us informed of your efforts and any responses you receive.
Read the press release, including the list of co-signatories, and read the full text of our open letter in Greek or English.
In Solidarity,
The Common Ground Team

WELCOMMON HOSTEL, an EXTRAORDINARY Sustainable Hostel

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The WELCOMMON HOSTEL is a seven-floor facility building in the center of Athens that offers accommodation for people of all ages and places, a hostel for sustainable tourism, a proposal for accommodation of social, cultural and environmental active groups and persons during their stay in Athens. Our moto is “sleep for dreaming, be active for cultural, social and environmental /climate issues”. The WELCOMMON HOSTEL is run by the social cooperative Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal, established in 2014 for the promotion of social and green innovation, sustainable tourism, environmental and climate potection, energy transition, social inclusion and intercultural dialogue.

The WELCOMMON Hostel is something more than just a nice hostel with social impact. It is also a place for social gathering and experiment, a center for innovation and art, as well as a centre for social and green innovation and economy, for social and job integration for Greek locals, migrants and refugees. 

Five floors of the seven storey building can provide accommodation to up to 150 people. Our guests have a variety of options for accommodation in the WELCOMMON HOSTEL: a four or eight-bed dormitory, a five-bed room, a four-bed room, a three-bed roomtwin or double bed room or a single. Regardless of what they select, all rooms are comfortableclean and attractive; a lot has been artistically designed with reused items, always with the comfort of our guests in mind.

Two floors of the Welcommon Hostel are dedicated to our social, cultural and green activities, providing opportunities to guests, international volunteers and refugees to collaborate and learn together.

Special place, people, values

Our guests are all different travellers (tourists, volunteers, erasmus students, nomads-workers, newcomers, refugees). Our vision is to bring close people from all over the world without discrimination, to enable them to communicate, to be entertained and to explore the creative side of Athens. Our guests have the opportunity to participate directly and indirectly in green, social, humanitarian and inclusive – intercultural projects, events and activities. They can also contribute with their ideas and experience. WELCOMMON Hostel means welcome in common – together.

In the WELCOMMON Hostel we can introduce our guests to the world of Greece’s cultural, environmental and social organizations as well as of social economy. We can connect them with the creative side of the city and social organisations, we can inform them about the situation of social economy, climate movement or  refugees in our country. And, they can play music in our bar.

We are a bicycle-friendly hostel and our guests can leave their bicycle …at the reception during their stay or they can rent a bicycle for a city tour. All the hostel is accessible to disable persons but there is also a special designed room for 3-4 disable persons.

The hostel highlights the positive impact that sustainable tourism – and cooperatives and social enterprises – have on communities, revitalizing neighborhoods, making bridges between communities, social groups, newcomers and local people.

Supporting the local economy, contributing to environmental sustainability

We contributed to the revitalization of the neighborhood during the financial crisis period (2016-2021) and we continue to support the local economy with social and green procurement, reduction of single use plastics and with a zero-waste strategy. We have recently published the results of our green renovation that had a major impact on hostel’s performance. We managed not only to reduce the building’s electrical consumption and use renewable energy, but also to minimize greenhouse gas emissions produced by fossil fuels. 

We apply a waste minimizing system, especially reducing one-way plastics, increasing seperation at source and recycling, while the whole WELCOMMON HOSTEL was based on a rational upcycling and re-use, which is actually an example of how we can combine reuse with high quality aesthetic effect and functionality. We have signed and are implementatimg the INTERNATIONAL TOURISM PLASTIC PLEDGE 

A hostel with social impact

Since its launch, we have successfully provided accommodation for more than 1500 kids, teens and adults and 330 volunteers, who have participated in intercultural courses and activities for refugees and migrants. We offer classes (e.g. for language, painting, puppet show, music etc) with the support of volunteers to refugees, migrants, local people, tourists; we work for the empowerment and training of our guests and design interactive workshops for the professional training and promotion of the abilities and qualifications of refugees, especially the young persons, along with Greek nationals, in order to be able to find their way in our societies for the benefit of our societies.

We are very proud that our social cooperative enterprise ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL has received 5 European-level distinctions for our innovation and contribution to the social economy. It is a great honor for Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal to have been awarded the European Citizen’s Prize on 9th of October 2018, in the European Parliament. HOSTEL WORLD named our WELCOMMON HOSTEL as one of the Hostel Heroes, “a hostel that in the midst of the crisis is supporting the community coming together… building a better world!”

Lastly, we are thrilled to announce that our WELCOMMON HOSTEL was distinguished as the best social / intercultural action of the year in Greece during covid-19; the competition was organized by the national network of “Anna Lindh Foundation“, the euro-med network for the intercultural dialogue. As of June 2020, even the sustainable tourism collapsed and at the same time thousands of recognized refugees and asylum seekers in Greece were left homeless in the midst of a global pandemic, therefore we decided to host a number of refugees, the most vulnerable between them, such as survivors of sexual violence, torture and ill treatment, the elderly, people with chronic diseases, pregnants and mothers with new borned babies. The vision for the Welcommon Hostel, was to be a sustainable solution to host all the travellers. If you’ve ever come into the Welcommon you probably felt that it is a special place, a place where you can meet people, learn from them… it is a community. Special place, people, values.

Nowadays, our world is transforming at a staggering pace, impacting the space, physical and man-made, we live and work, for better and at times for worse. Athens, in particular, where our hostel is located, is a city in crisis but at the same time one can see a real change if one decides to be part of the social and ecological change. We have decided to be part of this social and green transition.

We want to be financially, socially and environmental sustainable

The first step is crucial: we want to be financially and socially sustainable. Sustainability has to do also with the economic aspect of an enterprise, company or household. As a cooperative we don’t share profits, if there is we invest it in new jobs, social, climate and green activities. The WELCOMMON HOSTEL aims to cover with the generated income, the operation of the hostel, the creation of new jobs in innovation, climate projects and the cost of services offered to a number of refugees aiming at their housing, social inclusion,  and non-formal education. Everyday, we make an effort to improve our services,  make our hostel more convenient, friendly and live, more artistic and social, inspiring at the same time our staff, volunteers, guests and visitors to get involved and adopt a more responsible and sustainable way of traveling and living.

The day after

The next step is also very important to us; we are committed to support the transition to an energy-efficient and green economy, in creating a new center for eco-friendly projects and practices; we also aim to contribute to reducing the energy poverty of households, offering them know-how and support so that they can exit a difficult situation through social empowerment and energy efficiency.

    Sustainable Practices and impacts                  

In the Welcommon Hostel there is an installation of 20 solar panels for the production of hot water for shower and domestic use. It is a fact that the production of hot water is a major source of energy-consumption and economic duty of accommodation buildings and the ways of producing it most of the time is related to use of fossil fuels, a practice that is environmentally damaging. This is why, faithful to our purpose of creating a sustainable and environmental fair society, we chose an alternative source of energy to adapt the need of hot water to a carbon-free practice. (see infographic)

– Another measure implemented in the hostel is the use of LED lighting lamps, which might seem like a minimum expense for a household, but for a 7-story building with more than 10 rooms/story, plus the corridors, staircases, storage rooms etc. with  lighting needs ended up to be a significant investment. However the result for this investment was also significant and it is well portrayed in the electric bills afterwards. (see infographic)

The WELCOMMON Hostel have been designed as an open center for social inclusion, green transition and green – social jobs for young people. The aim is to create new employment opportunities for everyone in areas such as sustainable tourism, up-cycling,  green / cyclic economy, energy efficiency and others.

A large number of projects have been and still are realized regarding green transition and the Welcommon Hostel provides the premises and work-space to take on these initiatives.

– Moreover Welcommon Hostel is a physical space that welcomes every social, cultural and environmental active group to do their meetings, lectures, presentations or conferences to contribute actively to the dissemination of eco-friendly ideas.

Another action is the effort we undertook in 2017-2020 to promote climate action and energy efficiency in schools, provide a basic training  of  educators as well as pupils, in order to raise awareness about the climate challenge not only inside the strict boundaries of the hostel and its visitors but also in the wider society. 

Realised projects :

a) EUKI- CLIMATE SCHOOLS Be.Ath, a European Climate Initiative (EUKI ) program 2017-2020

b)  EUKI-YESClima: Young energy experts working for climate-friendly schools and energy efficiency“, a European Climate Initiative (EUKI) program 2018-2020.

c) EUKI-ZEWklima: ZEWKlima – Future Opportunities in Energy Transition in Southern Europe

and many events, seminars and workshops on energy transition, climate protection, energy cooperatives.

 

 

 

 

Civil society demands that Greece’s Recovery Plan prioritises making society greener and fairer

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70 civil society organisations co-signed an open letter to the Deputy Minister of Finance, Theodoros Skylakakis, initiated by Common Ground and Greenpeace, outlining their priorities for a green and just recovery and seeking more public involvement in developing policies

ATHENS, 23 March 2021 – Greece, like all other member states, has until the end of April to submit a plan to the EU outlining how it will spend the €32 billion it will receive in recovery funds to overcome the effects of the pandemic. Civil society recognises this as an unprecedented opportunity for a truly just, inclusive, and sustainable transition and seeks transparency in the planning process.

So far, civil society has been largely left out of the process and kept in the dark, despite hopes that it would be inclusive and transparent. “It is vital to have full transparency for the sake of monitoring and accountability and in order to keep the citizenry informed, which is essential for the recovery” says Common Ground spokesperson, Dominika Spyratou.

Given that recent crises (economic, refugee reception, pandemic) have deepened social inequalities in Greece, the signatories contend that recovery policies should target typically overlooked populations such as impoverished households, the homeless, migrants, and refugees. At the same time, they call for policies that prioritise protecting the environment and reducing the effects of climate change in order to ensure a sustainable future and stave off future disasters and displacement.

“On the one hand, we face a pandemic, the collapse of biodiversity, the climate crisis, and increasing social inequalities. On the other hand, we have an opportunity to use the Recovery Fund to protect our health, biodiversity, the planet and to promote social justice not just to pre- pandemic levels, but to make our society stronger, healthier, and more cohesive than ever.

Threat and opportunity,” says Nikos Charalambidis, Director of Greenpeace Greece. Common Ground and the letter’s co-signers urge the Greek government to:

● Invite the public, and in particular civil society, to submit their proposals for spending the recovery funds before the government submits its final plan in April and ensure their meaningful participation in the plan’s design, implementation and monitoring.

● Prepare a detailed action plan detailing proposed programmes, objectives, beneficiaries and expected impact, which includes valid environmental, social and economic indicators.
● Improve clarity and transparency around the process, including regular information exchange sessions with stakeholders and public awareness campaigns.

Why it matters: If the above mentioned measures are implemented as part of a coordinated effort combined with other initiatives and funding opportunities to strengthen public policies, it will lead Greece out of the pandemic and toward a more just and sustainable future.

After years of austerity, the refugee reception crisis and now the pandemic, this large sum of money can enable society to turn a corner and start truly recovering from economic and social problems. To succeed, Greece must avoid repeating the policies of the past that led us to the difficult position we are in today (confronting rising inequalities, polarisation, injustice, biodiversity loss, and the climate crisis).

Notes to editors
* In July 2020, the European Union launched a €750 billion pandemic recovery fund, of which 37% is earmarked specifically for fighting climate change with the rest going toward other investments and reforms to strengthen resilience, a digital transformation, fairness, and macroeconomic stability. EU member states now have until the end of April to submit their final spending plans to account for their share of the financial aid. Greece will receive €32 billion in a combination of grants and loans.

National Recovery and Resilience Plan: Greece’s official spending plan for the recovery funds.
Read the full draft of our open letter to the Deputy Minister of Finance.

About Common Ground
Common Ground is a new platform for strengthening strategic cooperation among civil society in Greece. From greening the economy to reducing inequalities to safeguarding human rights, Common Ground seeks to accelerate change through joint action.

Follow Common Ground on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn.
For more information please contact:
Dominika Spyratou, Common Ground, Athens, Tel: +30 6977868655,
dominika@commongroundgreece.org

 

Huxley, ESC volunteer: a very enriching and educational time with refugees in the Welcommon Hostel

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My name is Huxley Schnur and I`ve spent 2 months in the welcommon hostel volunteering with the social cooperative Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal. These two months as a participant in the European Solidarity Corps project “Social Green Innovation for Young Persons” have been a very enriching and educational time.

What I liked most about my time in the Welcommon Hostel was the teaching and the exchange with the students and really connecting with my co-workers and making a lot of friends in the process.

My go to memory of that time are the long talks we had with some of our students about how they fled from their home afraid of being killed, if they don´t leave everything they know behind.

One night my girlfriend and I had an hour long talk with one of the refugees in the hostel, telling us about his journey from Afghanistan to Greece. He told us how he had to leave his home, being threatened by the Taliban because he was a liberate muslim. A young boy, not more than 13-14 years old, threatened his life and told him he ‘d kill him if he wouldn’t convert to his beliefs. So the man packed his stuff and took his wife and newborn and left for safety elsewhere and for a brighter future. When we talked to him, his wife and son were in Germany applying for asylum.

It still moves me until this day to think of all the things they have told me and all the things I’ ve learned from them whilst volunteering in the Welcommon Hostel.

When I first arrived I knew no one and didn`t really know what to do when I entered the classroom and tried to educate my students on the german language. Luckily there were my co-volunteers, who soon turned into friends, that helped me get through this adapting period with useful tips and advice on how to be at ease and still be a good teacher.

Sadly after the first month the lockdown came and we had to cancel all outside classes. But we figured out a solution and had classes exclusively for the refugees – residents in the hostel, so we could keep up teaching during the lockdown. We designed a new schedule, with new classes to execute during lockdown. Unfortunately our planned classes didn`t match the sleeping schedules of the residents so we had to adapt to that. But little by little we created a kind of normality during the strangest of times.

Right from the beginning I loved the concept behind the Welcommon Hostel. That being the unification and combination of sustainable tourism and the accommodation, empowerment and non formal education of refugees. Even though tourism collapsed after Covid, just by the volunteers and refugees living in the same building kept the spark that is the Welcommon Hostel alive.

I absolutely enjoyed my time in the Welcommon Hostel, which taught me so much about myself, real suffering and true happiness. Here goes a big thank you to all those people that made the two months I ‘ve spent so lovely.