A group like this seems obvious today but in 2010 the spirit was very different. The economic crisis had knocked at the country’s door and Athens was slowly sinking into desperation. The new situation came out of the blue and the country was oblivious regarding the scale and the depth of the problems that it would have to deal with in the coming years. Spirits were low in the country at that time, and a few weeks after the “Marfin” tragedy that resulted in three dead, many people were worried.
Today I can easily remember those first, exciting meetings, out of which came a massive team of citizens in Athens, the “atenistas.” Since those meetings in “Tsai,” a group of volunteers has gathered regularly in order to organize projects. From that original group, one person is still in charge, Tasos Chalkiopoulos, who works as a graphic designer and has created the best Athens’ website, named athensville. It is absolutely justified that today’s column is dedicated to him and the hundreds of anonymous volunteers who participate in atenistas’ projects.
Many people ask me whether atenistas still exist, meaning whether there has been a decrease in their activities. This question surprises me, because although I follow the group’s activities from a distance, I am aware that the group is still working vigorously. The team’s communication stature may have been limited, but this is something that Tasos Chalkiopoulos is not worried about, as he has always preferred action to words.
The group’s anniversary is on the 9th of September, a day that coincides with their first project. It is not time to review any results, but atenistas have succeeded during these last four years much more than they could have imagined those summer evenings on Soutsou Street in “Tsai.”
Are there any similar groups of volunteers associated with improving the city where you live?
Original article, originally published in Greek, here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.