Evia, a collective affair

Evia, a collective affair

Blighted by wildfires last year, northern Evia serves well for exercises in populism. Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras’ visit to the area on Thursday failed to bring any comfort to the people there, as he settled for bandying about the usual oppositional repertory: “Trickery and PR stunts have their limits, and those limits have been crossed here,” he proclaimed, against the backdrop of still-evident destruction, in a bid to capitalize on the residents’ anger and turn it into votes during what was a pointless visit.

It’s been 10 months since the fires that razed 512,000 square meters of forestland, homes and livelihoods, and the people are still trying to get back on their feet. The local authorities are helping in this effort (we witnessed as much in Aidipsos, Limni and Agia Anna) but frustration at delays at the central government level are inevitable, as some recovery efforts (like the dispensation of compensation) stall while others make progress. But the fact is that the recovery will be a complicated business because the problems are complicated – and plentiful.

But, there are also initiatives that are giving us a glimpse into what the future may look like for northern Evia and one of these is the Fotodotes (Light-Givers) development project for Evia’s reconstruction. The Ministry of Culture is participating in the scheme with three of its companies: the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, the Athens Concert Hall and the Greek National Opera.

Among its events is the Evia Film Project, which ends tomorrow. Can the island evolve into an international center for the promotion of “green cinema”? The 500 or so guests from Greece and abroad attending the five-day gathering in Aidipsos believe it can. And this is not just about the life such initiatives bring to an area and the boost to the local economy; it is also about the collective effort they inspire. In this particular case, people from the community and beyond joined forces to bring an open-air cinema back into service, to open halls for masterclasses, to promote local products and entrepreneurship, and to create networks of communication and cooperation between foreign film professionals and Greek film students.

Restarts in society are not achieved by magic or by the push of a button. But initiatives such as this one can – because they take hard work and professionalism to succeed – banish populism and silence the naysayers, the destructive politicking of promises that are devoid of commitment. The future, we saw, lies in cooperation that can, indeed, bring about rebirth.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.