The absence of sustainable human, cultural, administrative, geographical and commercial connections between the 30 inhabited islands of the Cyclades has played up to now, a double role: On one hand, it has consolidated the integrity of each island, its character and traditions; on the other, it has isolate initiatives, producers, associations and individuals.
Today, development and growth - often viewed as a threat for the archipelago, a threat to its ecological balance, a threat to its social structure, and a factor of uncertainty for investors seeking stability in the area - constitute before all, a constant opportunity to seek solutions regarding our immediate and long term priorities.
Within this context of a new economical, ecological and social reality, as well as European Community’s desire for homogenization within its borders, the archipelago meets with the need to define its identity; and us - the islanders - to consider the future of our region.
By initiating a platform on which the entire Cycladic community will meet, we aim to provide a service based upon the elaboration bridges between islands, between insulars, between us and the rest of the world that will stimulate this process.
We believe that these bridges will facilitate trading, communication, mobility, promoting local products, exposure of our culture and our way of life; most of all, that they will reinforce our Cycladic identity and secure for the times to come, quality, accessibility and wealth.
1 – Framework
- Considering the absence of linking among islanders within the 30 inhabited islands of the Cyclades and the many more people around the world that are related to the Cycladic archipelago,
- Taking in consideration the important increase of private and corporative investments on a relatively small area where the major asset is Nature itself,
- As well as the Increasing demand for proximity products and quality of services,
- Acknowledging the expansion of the internet as a tool of communication accessible from remote places,
- Responding to the European Commission concern for homogenization regarding low density population areas, as well as its special attention towards islands areas (Art III-220 Section 3 of the European Chart),
- Taking into account major international ocean commitments, especially those related to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Convention on Biological Diversity and Agenda 21,
- And seeking collaboration and coordination with other NPOs, Non-Governmental Organizations and other national and international stakeholders,
We propose the creation of a non-profit organization named Gea which will have the following objectives:
2 – Objectives
- improve quality of life within the archipelago by generating awareness and inspiring resolutions concerning ecological issues.
- Facilitate trading by improving access to local products, establishing contact between small producers and local or worldwide marketplace.
- Facilitate people’s mobility by creating new bounds among local agencies and associations.
- Promote local activities by setting a tool that will facilitate jobs enquiries and cultural exchanges.
- Create a quality brand in order to raise the standards and expectations of locals and visitors.
And the following immediate priorities:
3 – Priorities
- Meet immediate ecological priorities by proposing to locals new packaging and distribution solutions concerning water and retail products.
- Establish bridges between quality producers and local business such as restaurants, hotels, retailers.
- Establishing a comprehensive network through individuals and agencies, providing locals and visitors with a wider range of real estate facilities.
- Create a multidisciplinary collaborative think tank that will define options concerning the future of the Cyclades, in order to preserve and improve the quality of life and liberty of its inhabitants.
The Gea project
Gea is an apparatus which application is to generate new bridges between the inhabitants of the Cyclades, between the islands, between the islands and the world.
It’s the center of a local network that covers the major and minor Cyclades, which serves and promotes the archipelago and its inhabitants.
Although we like to talk of Gea as of an Island, it is not made of earth and rocks: Gea is a virtual island. Its physical existence - its body - depends on three organs:
1 - Accessibility, A website
2 - Personality, A group of people
3 - Mobility, A nomadic island
And three vital requirements:
A - Identity, A homogenous network
B - Participation, an Active community
C - Autonomy, a self-sufficient organism
Within this paper we summarize the organs of Gea and leave its requirements for further development.
1- Accessibility: A website
The purpose of this organ is to gather in a single environment, topics that concern daily life on the islands. By giving immediate access to the public on a relevant scope of information regarding any island within the archipelago, and by providing updated trading and interacting services, this website aims to:
A - Serve as a useful tool for locals and international users.
B - Generate concern and actions regarding the locality’s welfare.
C - Advertise and promote local products, culture and way of life.
A) Serve as a useful tool for locals and international users.
a) Facilitating trade and exchange within the locality.
By providing access to an ‘Offer and demands’ interactive databank.
Whether one is seeking a summer job, an hotel room or simply for good tomatoes, this topic provides suppliers and demanders with an updated range of classified adds and direct access to local products, services, seasonal house rental, sublets and responds to demands from anywhere in the world.
c) Providing new link between insulars.
By initiating a meeting space that offers the possibility for every person related to the Cyclades, residents and visitors to communicate with each other. Its aim is to become a leaving thermometer of the regional life, as well as stimulating new personal and professional bounds between insulars. It is also a way for islanders to keep in touch from abroad.
d) Gathering isolated initiatives and local service agencies.
By proposing an interactive and promotional space to scattered local agencies and initiatives (ecological, real-estate, social) that will stimulate awareness of each other, collaborative work and easier access to these services from everywhere in the world.
B) Advertising and promote local products, culture and way of life.
Priority will be put on local business that are aware of ecological issues and that are maintaining or improving the quality of life within the islands.
a) Quality brand
- Promoting all fields of activities and establishing a brand that certifies quality. Wither it’s a restaurant, a Hotel, a farm, an architect office, or any other type of service or production within the locality of the Cyclades.
- Reserving advertising space on Gea for business or local activities that corresponds to the spirit of the island, weather because of its eco-friendly orientation or other particularities that improve the quality of life in the archipelagos.
- Elaborate a sustainable network that will provide the insulars and the visitors with a wider access to quality product and services.
b) Better access
- Immediate access to explicit data concerning the inventory of available products and services within the archipelago as well as information and optimal options concerning transportation of goods and persons.
- Virtual calendar of activities and initiatives that take place on the islands, offering the possibility to users to be aware or promote punctual events.
- Creation of an online "stock market" that will confront and stabilize prices among services and products in the area.
C) Generate concern and actions regarding the locality’s welfare.
Gea’s crucial asset is collaboration between insulars.
- By initiating an open archives library on which members will submit and access documents concerning any topic regarding the Cyclades.
- By initiating bounds between local agents regarding cultural events and activities that familiarize the public with the identity of the islands, we aim to propose information and access to all that is happening in the archipelagos.
- By initiating a collaborative space on which users will elaborate collaborative work upon selected projects.
Overview of the website (see: www. Egea.org)
2 – Personality: A group of people
The second organ of Gea is its community.
This time, there is nothing virtual. This population gathers people that leave on the Cyclades or people that are related to the archipelago, weather by residing partially, or by being attached to the islands. On Gea, this community is regrouped and participates actively to life on the islands from wherever on the world.
The purpose of this gathering is to put in contact individuals, groups, associations that participate actively to the life of there island although presently isolated and unaware of each other. Within this perspective Gea aims to become a cooperative organism that will lead new dynamics. This community will:
A - Collaborate to improve quality of life within the archipelago
B - Offer each other opportunities
C - Meet with the future of the islands
A) Collaborate to improve quality of life within the archipelago
a) Stay aware of each others.
By establishing a local and international network of information and skills that will give to all members a wider scope of what is and can be done in the islands.
b) Meet with ecological priorities
By stimulate a daily eco-friendly behavior and by initiating or participating to collective ecological achievements. The community is orientated towards a new conception of environmental behavior. That is, Increase the value of personal investment in the locality by preserving its backbone: Nature.
In other words, increase benefits by preserving our natural asset.
B) Offer each other opportunities
a) Invitation to new Members
By recommending persons, groups, association, partners to enrich the diversity and efficiency of Gea’s community.
Every recommendation will be submit to members and will result to an invitation.
b) Work and Cooperation
By offering job opportunities to members on the basis of recommendation and selected profiles and stimulate exchanges of service at an individual or associative level.
c) Commune and individual initiatives
By promoting actions, projects and proposals of members to the appreciation of all in order stimulate initiatives and partnership.
C) Meet with the future of the archipelago
a) Interpolate and coordinate knowledge
Members will be invited to exchange relevant information concerning their respective activities and participate to general think tanks on the islands. This topic will lead to a bi-annual report that will be available online, defining options regarding new fields and hot topics on local issues.
By working in collaboration with local administration and by linking local associations, Gea aims to participate actively to decision making and will elaborate an agenda based on an annual meeting of its members.
3 – Mobility: A nomadic island
The mobility of Gea is essential within the scattered islands. It is a guarantee of constant update covering the totality of the archipelago as well as an opportunity to focus on one particular island at the time. Gea will visit the Cyclades and settle every year in one of them. Its attention then ported around this island, regarding local themes, organizing and participating to events.
In addition, Gea aims to the mobility of its community and provides services that serve the circulation of people, skills and goods within the archipelago.
A – Individual’s flexibility
B – Circulation of goods and flow of skills
C – Gea’s permeability
A – Individual’s flexibility
a) Promote exchanges
By offering the possibility to the community to swap houses, from one island to another and around the world. Also members will be proposed to invite each other.
Gea will have its own transportation device, a boat that will tour among the Cyclades, anchor to main harbors or to remote bays. The itinerary of this boat will be flexible; therefore, no one in the hurry should come aboard. This device will also serve as transportation for local products and collaborate with ecological and scientific organizations within the frame of seasonal programs.
c) One foot on the promise land
The law preventing camping in most of the coolest places on the archipelago, and the very often overruled restrictions concerning building in the islands, have inspired us a wide program of research on the feasibility of ephemeral habitations on the islands.
The subject will be one of the first topics of collaboration between Gea’s members, putting together architects, lawyers, entrepreneurs, artists, travelers, land owners, ecological associations, local administrators...maybe even you and me.
B – Circulation of goods and Flow of skills.
a) Bridges towards small producers
Many insulars are producing small quantities of excellent products, usually for their own needs or for a circle of relatives or friends. First, Gea encourages his community to meet with these locals, to learn from them, and to do the same when possible.
Then, Gea aims to promote these producers by linking them with demanders.
b) Bridges towards specialized artisans
Persons that should be highly demanded because they master a technique, a material or a know-how are not always accessible because of there location. It is important to give them the possibility to widen up their scope of working opportunity by creating links between them and the rest of the world.
It is a tradition in the islands; if one morning your neibour knocks the door to give you few eggs from his chickens, he wouldn’t complain too much if you bring him next day one of the Swiss chocolate bars you smuggled from the Airport. Gea will promote trading in the islands as a way to stimulate interaction among social groups.
C – Gea’s permeability
a) Regional borders VS Globalization
Gea’s frontiers are based on the scheme of the first modern city: New York. A city built around Nature and not against Nature. Nature is mastered in its Center as a realistic response to the impossibility to oppose walls against it.
Gea’s aptitude to incorporate external inputs reposes on its permeability and its capacity to generate around the world.
Our proposal consists on the creation of an island: Gea.
This island is not made of earth and rocks, it’s a virtual island.
It consists on the elaboration of a network within the archipelago made of sustainable bridges between people, associations, business.
One may view this project as a club or as an association between people sharing commune affinities; We rather speak of a virtual island, a platform in the center of a the major and minor Cyclades, which serves and promotes the archipelago, its inhabitants and its lovers.
The future citizen of this island: women, children, entrepreneurs, artists, architects, farmers, fishermen, owners, politicians, promoters, designers, poets, builders, investors, writers, philosophers, party animals, immigrants, travelers…people that simply should meet more often. People like you and me, people completely different than you and me, people to who we will give a chance, and people that will give us a chance, people to trade with, people to work with, to exchange ideas, to share compatible goals.
How? By creating more interaction, matching the interest of one with the interest of many. It’s a meeting place for all, made of everything we bring with us.
Finally, Gea’s stability reposes on the elaboration of a code of good practice among its members. It is not something that we intended to define here since it is the task of Gea’s future community to elaborate its rules according to what may be shared values. However, this proposal is based on the observation of selected perennial local habits and aims to rally people with a commune objective: To face together ecological and social priorities, help improving access to knowledge and distribution of quality products and services, basically maintain, as much as we can improve, quality of life within the region.
Our proposal ultimatly aims to serve the region of the Cyclades and its people.