Katheti, driven by deep interest in the living conditions in our area, choses to highlight some model communities that act as an example, with the collective effort, the progress they have made and the prosperity they enjoy.
What prompted us to designate them as model communities? What’s so interesting about them? There are some cases all over Greece where people were not discouraged by the difficulties they faced and did not give up. Working together, they managed to improve their lives and promote their area by implementing innovative and original solutions. We will mention some of them as a source of inspiration.
Anavra is built on the western slopes of Mount Othris, at an altitude of 925 meters. Until 1990 it was a degraded, almost abandoned village. The vision of Dimitris Tsoukalas, community leader for 16 years, evolved Anavra within a few years into a model rural settlement, third in development in the southern Europe and aroused international interest.
The infrastructure created is exemplary. Three state-of-the-art livestock parks, organic livestock and a standard certified slaughterhouse. Wind energy park that ensured significant annual income in the Community, asphalt and paved roads, kindergarten, primary school, medical center. Also, there were built squares, two event halls, a two-floor car park, a football field, a basketball court, an indoor modern gym, a folklore museum and an environmental-cultural park of 240 acres.
They expanded their efforts by setting goals such as a small hydroelectric plant, a photovoltaic district heating system, an innovative drainage system and a bioclimatic park.
Unfortunately, the loss of autonomy through the Kallikrates program did not facilitate the implementation of these projects.
Without basing its development on the state, Anavra went so far as to offer its inhabitants a high standard of living and a quality of life comparable to that of Switzerland. It has a zero unemployment and crime rate, an average age of 40 years and a growing population.
The residents of Mesologgi, in their effort to get out of stagnation and give incentives, especially to young people, to stay in the area, applied the model of participatory leadership. The principles of participatory leadership are based on collective intelligence and the co-creation of all stakeholders in order to find solutions to their problems.
The beginning was made with the help of a voluntary radio station, which has been broadcasting since 1960. In each interested party was given access to propose topics for a radio show, to express opinions, to speak. Then they launched new programs aiming at the active participation of civil society.
The Mesologgi Community Council now organizes assemblies in the city’s neighborhoods or by teleconferences. In this way, citizens have the opportunity to report infrastructure problems in their neighborhoods. These are recorded, categorized and transferred to the competent services and the Municipal Authority.
Pavliani is built in complete harmony with the natural environment, on the southeastern slopes of Oiti, at an altitude of 1,040 meters. It has joined the Habitat Agenda, a pilot project on the creation of sustainable settlements, in the sense of safety, hygiene, equity and sustainability. The aim is to develop the traditional villages and to carry out pilot renovation projects to upgrade them.
With their active participation, the Community, the educational and cultural association and all the inhabitants managed to lead Pavliani on an upward course, since it is a rapidly growing tourist village.
Their activities include artistic interventions, cleanings, cultural events and problem solving through discussion. They have also shaped and maintained a park for the last 20 years.
“Parkaki”, as they call it, is essentially a riverside forest at the springs of Asopos, landscaped with bridges, dams, paths, signs, toys and construction activities. The infrastructure of the park is in harmony with the environment and minimally intrusive. The original purpose of the park was the recreation of the inhabitants. At the moment it has become a pole of attraction for visitors and supports financially many families.
Tilos about three decades ago had 270 inhabitants and as a society was facing withering. It has now doubled its population and is the first green island in the Mediterranean. It is fully integrated into the Natura 2000 network and energy autonomous, with a hybrid renewable energy system. T
he facilities are small-scale, without significant environmental alternations, and include wind turbines, photovoltaics and energy storage systems. The surplus energy is extracted, multiplying the benefits for the local community.
Another important step is the gradual replacement of the Municipality’s fleet with electric vehicles. The creation of an electric charging station provides the possibility of free charging of electric vehicles to individuals. In addition, the houses of the island have smart energy meters, for the proper use of electrical appliances. Smart meters are also used for remote control of water pumping from drilling, control of its level in tanks and adequacy control.
The Social Cooperative Company they have created, in order to employ locals and refugees who are hosted on the island, is also worth mentioning. It currently includes a cheese factory and the overall objective is to process products from the agricultural and livestock sector.
In addition, Tilos is one of the islands where the “Sports Trails” program takes place. As a society, they promote sports education, care for mental and physical health and improve the quality of life of their children.
The progress made by Tilos required the agreement and cooperation of the community. To this end, over the years, many briefings and public consultations have taken place. The first benefits of social policy and energy autonomy are the increase in tourism, especially from abroad, since the island was promoted by many international media.
The Municipality of Trikkaia in 2016 was included in the 10 most sustainable cities of the EU Since then, it continues to implement infrastructure projects aimed at an “intelligent” and modern city. In addition to the projects, it strengthens with actions the information and active participation of society. A valuable participatory tool that provides to the citizens is electronic voting in order to co-decide on issues related to their city.
They have given weight to the green pollution-free transportation, enhancing cycling and electromobility. Along with the tens of thousands of bicycles in Trikala, bicycle paths, bicycle repair stations with quick chargers for electric bicycles and bicycle stations are being created. Also, in 2015 they tested for the first time worldwide a driverless electric bus in the city center. In addition, they used two electric cars. A deterrent parking system for the disabled has been installed on the city streets, with sensors detecting the relevant identification card.
As part of the easiest transportation, especially for the people in villages, there is access to a free online application that provides real-time information on bus arrival times at stops, carpooling options and other services.
The trial placement of a solar waste bin is also an important pioneer. The solar panel supplies the battery, the sensors, the automatic waste compressor and the electronic data transmission system. The Municipality also has a system of environmental measurements of air, electromagnetic radiation, drinking water quality and recording environmental parameters of the river Lithios’ waters.