What is our Athens? And these, and those…
Christmas in Athens! Is it a holiday destination or an alloy of irony and fixation / resignation? The capital acquires its Christmas decoration, but the mood of its inhabitants deviates or, at least, it takes effort to coordinate. The pandemic has its own plans, which are not only pleasant…
Two reasons and a – no – conclusion lead us to today’s comment.
The first is a tribute to Athens in “Arts” two weeks ago (7/11). Among the various, very interesting, we record the view of the social anthropologist Leonidas Economou, on the characteristics of a heterogeneous mosaic, alive and changing: “It houses a colorful, active and flourishing artistic scene, preserves its democratic political culture and favors various meetings . and osmosis that opposes segregation, status, racism. ” The Economist journalist and author (recently published his book about the capital) Bruce Clark “hopes” that Giannis Antitokoumbo is “the personification of the new Athens”.
From time to time, we read opinions of foreign visitors, which refer to the energy that is released, to the dynamics that emerge.
The second reason is the activity of the municipal authority through the plethora of individual interventions. We collect: 1. Program of public murals in all the neighborhoods of Athens. “The goal is for the city to acquire more color and with” canvas “its buildings to highlight contemporary art through the eyes of its exponents, young and talented street artists.” 2. The first Japanese public garden in the country was created on the site of the Nereid Park in Pagrati. 3. The “Wenceslas Havel bench”, which consists of a table between a tree trunk and two chairs, was placed in Freedom Park, a symbolic and honorary reference to the work of the Czech politician and writer.
The “face” of the city is not one, but big. We are all.
Along with the “big” discussions about renovations and tree planting. In parallel with the countdown for the official opening of the door on Christou Ladas Street of “Apollo”, after almost ten years (!), For events (not screenings), after the merger of the two conflicting institutions achieved with the persistence and mediation of Kostas Bakogiannis.
What is our Athens? I wondered. And these, and those? The internal division / controversy over “facades” that do not touch the substance, for nice generalities other than the real problems in the neighborhoods and in the city center, met with resistance. Fragments, yes, “decorative” interventions, yes again, but where is the annoyance? We walk and crumble – for years now – from the abandonment of roads and sidewalks, the lamps burn and are not always replaced, rubbish, damage, the list of requests is endless. Not to mention Queen Olga’s sidewalk, which drivers (mostly taxis) refer to every time their route brings it up for review. Each of us who has something to contribute to the negative image, “something” that is never corrected.
As selfish and arrogant are the idealistic and mortal communicative praises (as if they give rise to suspicion), so insignificant is the constant whining, annoyance, discomfort and denial.
Can any mayor transform a city and the daily life of its inhabitants, as if holding a magic wand? (A thousand-word example of Giuliani and the drastic reduction of crime in New York, but that is not our question.)
Can any mayor upgrade a city, restoring a better relationship with the environment and its future? And the residents? Are they “inactive” waiting for the miracle? Leaving, out of the bin, rubble, mattresses, ragged furniture (not to mention the spilled garbage), without any prior consultation with the competent department of the municipality? Or “parking”, where to?
No conclusion: The nice thing is to hear and read the testimonies of strangers for vitality, energy and dynamics. It is almost triumphant for Giannis Antetokounbo to be considered the face of the new Athens. Only the “face” of the city is not one, but it has. We are all.