Remarks on the first Sustainable Development Weekend

A post-Nidri script 

        The previous article published on Green O’Clock is asking for an “after-comment” itself. Even though, the text put more emphasis on the trash management problems of Lefkada and spoke about the issue of human attitude toward nature in the context of the island it also contained an invitation to express caring about environment through participating in the Sustainable Development Weekend organized by Solidarity Tracks Organization. This time we shall discuss more in details what happened last weekend in Nidri and how the outcomes should be understood. Furthermore, in order to balance the dark perspective expressed earlier my intention is to leave some complaints and critiques behind and focus on what was good. My strategy is to have a top down approach to the event, so I will start with general impressions and observation then I will deconstruct them a little.


        Despite the fact that the attendance of the Sustainable Development Weekend could have been higher the level of joy of those who came to the garden in Nidri was on the top. The field have been cleaned and arranged so well that it turned into a pleasant place also visually speaking. Of course, I am not saying that a miracle happened here, as some disturbing elements have remained untouched, but we could describe it as a half miracle or the beginning of one (as we are positive people with great plans for Nidri). Also, the activities offered were enjoyable and looked well-planned and done with love; everything seemed well-organized and close the complete. So the event was GOOD. It was maybe a small, instead of a tremendous, success but it was one. Saturday afternoon, if you took a minute to look around and observe the details you could  listen to child laughter, see the smaller ones wandering around while their parents murmured the songs played by the band, notice the joy drawn on the faces while having a bite of hot dog or the interests and excitement in eyes and gestures within the conversation. The picture was delightful. The place was calm and a little chaotic in the same time but all details together gave the impression that everybody feels home in the garden, everybody found his or her place.


        Nevertheless, is it possible to say that the event was successful if the attendance was quite low? I say, yes. Given the circumstances, which are the place of the event, the culture and knowledge of the target group about sustainable development or environment protection in general, the fact that there were at all people who showed interest is in itself a success. Lefkada, and Greece in general, is a place where terms related to natural surrounding conservation are empty or have very foggy meanings as they have little to do with the daily life of the population. Therefore, we also have to reconcile our expectations regarding participation in an event like this. It is good to aspire high- it takes you further ultimately- but it is also essential to take into consideration the context. The given framework here, let’s be honest, was not perfect. However, it is possible to give emergence to more favorable conditions for similar initiative since each attempt, each little activity related to the topic triggers an alteration in the context but time is needed to greater successes, the circumstances have to get “ripe”.

        Another question that shall be raised is one regarding the place of the event. The garden in Nidri have went through a major transformation. Months before the Sustainable Development Weekend it was one of the saddest fields of the island covered with objects which were in total dissonance with the surrounding. The trash taken out from the garden was of an unimaginable amount, so was the variety and nature of the items dug out. The truth is that the picture is not perfect now, but it is missing the major part of the disturbing elements and with some colors, fantasy and taste it could look like a livable space and one which can be turned into a healthy and beautiful place if there are enough who care and are willing to work for this. It is strange that an eye-opening action was hosted in a highly problematic field but at the end the choice of the location made the Sustainable Development Weekend a meta-event. Therefore, no matter how contradictory the decision concerning the space might seem we can find a meaning and aim in it. This is clearly proven by the new image of the garden which shall be seen understood as an example to follow while it should stay as the birthplace of further good examples.


        For those who missed the soap making or eco-lamp building workshops, as well as the eco-house tour and the Greek music concert (plus the super tasty hot dogs), we have some good news: we will continue having similar (and even better) initiatives, so there will be chances to make up for one’s absence. The event was the premier of a new season for Solidarity Tracks and with time hopefully also for Lefkada. In a place where sustainable development have never been mentioned it is important to introduce the term and make it circulate until it is built in into the conscious of the people. We go on working on that, the rest shall come with time and from the community. So, to be continued…

Boróka Bálint