Seed 8 – Bratea

Seed 8 - Bratea


Heavenly Village - Romania

During the period of confinement of Covid-19 we were in Romania in a valley abandoned after the fall of the USSR, new inhabitants arrived for 3 years in this valley, we lived with them and 5 other volunteers during the 2 months of confinement. We wanted to share community life with you through this video on the occasion of the International Day of Living Together in Peace. Do not hesitate to share the video.

Once again, the music is by the talented duo from Toulouse Pi1. Thank you to them for letting us use their music. Do not hesitate to go and discover their fantastic work.

Antonis-eng

The sun finally came to dry the few drops that had timidly soaked the soil of the foothills of the mountains forming the north border of Greece. His smile eats half of his face where the nascent beard covers his face. Despite his arm bruised by a life of toil in the fields where he started working at 11 years old to help his family, his hug lifts me off the ground and makes me turn like a bride on her wedding day (I have lost a little weight since the beginning of this trip, but still!).

That’s the image I keep of Antonis. A true and honest man who offers his love fully, as if he understood that this is what is most valuable (and this is most certainly the case). For me, Antonis represents well the encounter we have with this region of Greece.

So, yes, when we talk about Greece our imagination immediately takes us to postcard islands where the majesty of the blue sky is only rivaled by the purity of the whiteness of the buildings.

So, yes, maybe it’s by pure contradiction that we decided to stop in the north of Greece, in the mountains (because, yes, in addition to dream beaches, Greece is mainly composed of mountains). Mountains where Greek culture mixes, blends and becomes porous with influences from the neighboring Balkans.

This is what Antonis taught us with Tania. That this region had suffered from history, but that its people still love it.

As a perfect illustration of this, Antonis’ life seems truer than life. Imagine, then, at the age of 11, he starts working with his parents on the family farm, grapes for the trade, a few olives for oil and leftovers for everyday life as common peasant sense has always dictated.

But here’s the thing, the peasants’ common sense for some time now, it hasn’t much of a coastline anymore, it’s not … profitable. In fact, a few years ago, the whole of Greece was no longer profitable according to some people. At the time of the 2008 crisis, when Europe wanted to send a strong message to all countries that wanted to deviate from its economic course. Greece will be the example, the bad pupil that is punished so that others do not flinch when the blows come. The great story you know, economic crisis, bankrupt country, political crisis, the Greek government’s attempt to resist, humiliation, austerity, regaining power…

Against this backdrop of great history, let’s return to our little village in northern Greece. Here too, of course, the crisis is being felt, jobs are disappearing, prices are falling, the number of suicides is increasing. The situation is all the more unbearable for Antonis and the winegrowers of the region, because at the time all grape sales are under the control of a single company that sets prices and chooses the quantities to be produced, etc. Familiar as a situation? Yes, perhaps. Where the situation becomes even more untenable is that this large grower is taking advantage of the crisis to revise prices downwards (on the growers’ side only of course) and increase his profit against the backdrop of the crisis.

The equation is simple, the producers have no other way out than a monopoly reseller, they are already suffocated by the crisis and austerity measures. They have no other solution than to align themselves with the prices that are making them even more precarious.

Yes, but the peasants here don’t see things the same way. They are fed up with the situation, so they can go beyond their usual quarrels (because there are always quarrels) and agree to take the matter to the judges. So a group of people get together and go to Thessaloniki to find a lawyer to defend their case.

The judgment will be in favor of the peasants. The opportunity is given to them to free themselves from the yoke of their economic oppressor.

But what to do now, to go back each on his own, to look for a multitude of dealers, to leave the prices free, to remain at the mercy of another big dealer to replace the old one.

Antonis has had an idea for a while and this victory is an opportunity to propose it. Since the families have already managed to agree to pool their forces to face their common enemy, they could build on this momentum to continue learning to work together rather than in their own corners. This is what will be done with the creation of a cooperative of the region’s wine growers. For more than a year, about twenty families from the region met every week to discuss the terms of agreement, the operation of the cooperative, the prices, the common areas, to finally come to an agreement (not without having to get rid of a few ill-intentioned people who had come to drown the organization on behalf of another big retailer).

After a year, therefore, the cooperative is created and the agreement is sealed. And what a success! From the first year, the selling prices are doubled. Since then, the quality of the region’s production has been recognized throughout the country. The cooperative’s activities do not only impact its members, since it is the entire region that has benefited from an increase in selling prices, thus allowing almost fifty families to live again with dignity and without the constant threat of a drop in prices subject to the profitability of a large producer, a multinational or the markets.

So, yes, our story has gone a little beyond that of Antonis in the strictest sense of the word. And let’s be clear, Antonis is not a hero who single-handedly stands up to an evil capitalist who only sees his profit and is ready to crush anyone or anything in his path. No, Antonis is only the person we met there in the mountains of northern Greece, where history has turned the population into a mosaic of people and culture, where the sun warms the souls and brings out of the earth fruits and vegetables of which the inhabitants are proud and which they are ready to defend. But at the same time he is so much more like every person who understands that loving a place is not hating everything that does not come from it, but making people discover and share this love.

Antonis is a smile that invades a face like a river that you release, it’s a strong but reassuring grip, a big voice that scares at first, but that you love when you know that it’s only a latent burst of laughter, it’s “tsipouros ! ” if your glass is empty, and there are so many things we can’t share, because they are too precious for that.

In the end, it will be our Greece, in the meeting and blending of our visions. In the end, Greece is not just about the sea, and that’s good!

Seed 7 – Goumenissa

Seed 7 - Goumenissa

Here we are now in northern Greece.
Here we discovered life in a rural family of this region.
True to our desire to experiment in the formats of our articles, we have created portraits of our two hosts: Tania and Antonis.
Click on one of the photos below to discover the portraits.

Tania-eng

Outside, it’s raining. The clouds are finally releasing their tears of life on the mountainous hillsides of the region. The day is over and we’ve come home. The fire warms the hearth, maybe a little too much sometimes, but that’s okay, we feel good in this cocoon. Even before we had time to think about it, Tania filled the table so that everyone could find something to their liking. She’s already gone to make popcorn and heat up the water for the shower. She’s like that Tania, like a wave of gentle warmth that comforts you as it passes through you. Like an impulse projected towards others, an unconscious gift of all that she has to offer with no ulterior motive of what it will bring her. And it feels good, it feels warm in the middle of this world turned only towards its ego, towards its profit.

It is also the image of her country, or rather of her countries. Torn, strong, proud, a little sad at times, but it is only to better radiate moments of happiness, of an open nature, turned towards the other. To understand it, I believe we have to go back several generations in the past. Go back up the red cord of filiation as far as her grandmother. This woman who was taken away a country that was barely offered to her. This woman who had gone to “the city”, over there, in the valley, three days away, to find news of her father, only to discover that he had already been dead and buried for weeks. From that town, she will never return. At that time, it was not good to be a young girl without her parents in this area in the midst of the political turmoil. She will find herself on a one-way trip to Slovakia. It is in this new country that Tania will be born. She will grow up like her mother under the incessant reminders of a grandmother that their country is not this one and that one day they will have to “come back home”. This is what Tania’s mother did when she returned to settle in Goumenissa when she was 8 years old.

A new life, a new culture that she doesn’t know, but that will have to be hers now. The school she has always loved is here a competition and where she never wondered why she had to learn things (she just loved it), she starts to dread the moments of class.

Maybe that’s why, when she was eighteen, she decided to leave Greece to look for another life in Holland where she went to study. This quest will not stop there, her travels will lead her to cross Australia and Nepal by bike, to consider making her life in Holland. When one fine day, looking at the few plants in her Amsterdam apartment, trying to survive in a simulacrum of nature, she feels something, a lack, a tension. Something that sometimes calls to us but that we so often ignore. Maybe the child who was inside us, who pulls us by the sleeve, desperately trying to get our attention, to tell us that he knows, him, that he knows what we are missing, what we are missing to be happy, that we only need to listen to him, to trust him again, to forget the adult we were taught to pretend to be, just for a few moments, just enough time to tip over, to take a step to the side, to stop the forward flight, to stop the cavalcade to fill up with emptiness, to listen to a forest bloom, to watch a lake grow, to feel the clouds float… to put off things that make sense and to hurry to do those that don’t make sense.

Tania hasn’t put off till tomorrow. She must return to Greece, try to regain the country that once frightened her. She has now understood that it can offer her what she will not find anywhere else, even if she turns the globe to make the tides rise. She doesn’t know exactly what she is looking for, but she knows, as one knows when one is right, that this is where she will find it. A little piece of land, a little piece of nature to live in simply, the sun that heats the earth, the hearts that warm the souls.

A partner crossed his path, he came to offer her a ru, they left together with two little lives in their hugs.

And then, and then well, there was life. Home, plans, other people, priorities came back. 20 years went by. The voice has become harder to hear but it has always remained there, muted, until it is once again more important to look towards oneself than towards others. Saying, take your time, I’m staying here, on this little piece of land, the sun warms me, I miss your sun but I know you haven’t forgotten me, that this time it’s not the bad reasons that keep you away from me. I know that your home shelters your beloved ones and that you know that I am here, that I don’t take it badly, that I understand. That you’ll come when it’s time.

So we should tell you now why we’re telling you all this. During our first exchange with Tania, when she explained to us what we were going to do, she had a sentence that struck us: “I don’t know what you’re going to learn by coming to my house, or even if I could teach you something, maybe you’ll learn what not to do! ». In the end I like this sentence because it sums up Tania quite well, the lack of confidence sometimes, the thought for the other all the time, before thinking about herself, but also this sudden burst of energy, this intuition.

Then yes. We’ll have learned eventually. We will have learned that reality can be seen in the colourful but meaningful drawings of a coffee-ground tale in which giants made of mountains carry on their shoulders the foundations of the meaning of this song that we always hear muted and that sometimes a child reminds us to listen to.

So if you ever feel like you’re being dragged down, think of Tania, think of us and take the time to listen to the singing of the clouds.

Seed 6-1 – Low Tech With Refugees

Seed 6 - Lesvos


Part I - Low-Tech With Refugees

We spent a month on the Greek island of Lesvos, a few kilometres off the Turkish coast. Many refugees are stranded on this island waiting to find out whether their asylum application will be successful.
Tariq volunteered with Low-tech with Refugees, an association that uses low-tech to improve the lives of refugees.

The music is from a very good friend of ours: Pi1. Many thanks to him for letting us use it. Don’t hesitate to go and discover his excellent work!

Seed 6-2 – Becky’s Bathhouse

Seed 6 - Lesvos


Part II - Becky's Bathhouse

Here is our second video on Lesvos. This time, we present Becky’s Bathhouse where Lucie volunteered for a month.
This wellness center for women and children offers them a warm shower in a safe environment, clean clothes, toys and a moment to regain their dignity.

Many thanks to Thomas Lorin for the music composed especially for this video.

ZAPPING – Italy

ZAPPING - Italy

We’ve been gone for three months. Maybe we should start by saying that three months away is not the same as three months sedentary. Time has its caprices, it plays with our perceptions, we forget that a week is 7 days, that time is measured in hours, minutes, seconds…

No, when travelling, we remember that time is measured in moments, in shared moments, in encounters and discoveries. And then, we realize that it doesn’t have the same meaning to say that we’ve been away for a month. So, we feel like saying that we saw the sun meet the mountains of the Cevennes when we spent our first night in Kokono, that we surprised an Isérois of adoption at the foot of his bed adorned with his desert coat, that he introduced us to the mountains, that we reconnected in Switzerland with ties that our hearts had never forgotten, that Italy welcomed us with its warm and comforting smile, that Italians are crazy about a madness that we shared with enthusiasm and joy!

So, yes, one could say that it has been three months since we left. But that would no longer make any sense, in fact.
We’ll say we’re gone. That it was the right thing to do and that every moment, every moment, every beat of the clock confirms it.


Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Seed 5 – Umbria – Italy

Seed 5 - Panta Rei - Italy

Once again it was a project that we were going to discover and it was a community that we met.

During the last three weeks we shared the life of the Panta Rei Environmental Education Centre.

It’s hard to sum up these 3 weeks that went by so quickly and yet were so rich! To give you an overview (as Alain Chabat did in his heyday), we have :

Makes venchi baskets thanks to Roberto for the knowledge transfer!

Discover the good Italian cuisine made with love (thanks to Pier for the best biscotti in the world).

Made wooden games.

Participated in the creation of a shaman's drum. A huge thank you to patricio for this experience.

Makes olive oil soaps with Mick.

Created a rocket stove for Kokono. Thanks to Marino for the precious help!

Took in the wood for the winter. Thanks to the forest for its active participation in this task!

Makes potions and elixirs to prepare for the coming winter. Thanks to Viviana for her welcome and her knowledge!

Makes our green clay toothpaste.

So this is it for Italy...

As you can imagine, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The other part, the laughter, the songs, the delirium, the warmth, it is not shared with words but it is lived and it remains there in the depths of our hearts and we take it with us on our journeys.

Seed 4 – Emilia Romagna – Italy

Seed 4 - Pavullo nel Frignano - Italy

Nestled in the mountains of the southern region of Modena, there is a community, a group of people, a family, people. People who decided to create a school that would suit them, a school for their children but also a little for them, to change, to grow up, together.

This school is “I Prataioli”, “those who live in the mead
ows”. We met this school, attended these beautiful people, both adults and children for a week.

And now we have a hard time saying that we went to a school. It looks more like we’ve found a new family.

So we offer you to discover the great family of Prataioli.

Have a good meeting!

What we liked about this project:

Seed 3 – Lombardy – Italy

Seed 3 - Galbiate - Italy

After a stint in Switzerland, we stopped in Galbiate in northern Italy to discover the social cooperative Liberi Sogni. This cooperative implements various educational, cultural and social projects:

The Parco Ludico de Galbiate, an open place for children, teenagers and families.

    • Throughout the year, animators organize workshops in local schools around music, water, chemistry, the environment, etc.
    • The Crazy Bosco, a wood house where camps are organized throughout the summer for families, young people and migrants,
    • The Free Wood University, where an annual program allows locals to learn about wood.

We had the pleasure of discovering this beautiful project for ten days and especially the day of Sunday, October 27 that we invite you to discover on video.

What we liked about this project: