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|2. The Neohori Circumstance|
This is Samos: Greek island in the Eastern Aegean Group, just offshore to Asia Minor, the classical symbol of wealth and abundance in antique times.
This island is now becoming an area of development again. After many people left the island in and after the Second World War, the wave of tourism has initiated an economic development with positive and negative sides. You can discover much about this fact here.
Tourists are carried with busses to tradtional mountain villages, where they feel relaxed and overwhelmed by beauty. But at the same time, this beauty might not last. While the hotels grow at the beaches, many of the villages seem to not really have a future. Young people look for job opportunities elsewhere, old people stay back with growing inabilities. We have picked one village with a rather difficult condition, to make it the home of an information society initiative to improve local circumstances.
The village of Neohori, situated on the side of a large gorge descending from the Karvounis (central) mountains of Samos towards the gulf of Marathokambos is featuring a magnificent overview over the mostly untouched eastern gulf and its village Koumeika and Skoooureika, the islands of Samiopoula and Fourni, the beaches of Ballos and Votsalakia, the mount Kerkis and the remote Dodekanese Islands like Patmos, the island where Saint John wrote the Book of Apokalypse.
Neohori is located in a dry, southern microclimate, yet protected
and supplied by the slopes of the central mountains that rise up to the
magnificent Karvounis with green, almost alpine forests.
If you come here, beside the overwhelming beauty, you will find out that this village is just another example of the grave problems threatening the life and the future of Mediterranean villages. Those villages who cannot "surrender" to tourism, because they are a little bit too far from the sea, might have preserved their shape and identity, but at the price of aging and dying from inside. A living space shaped by many generations, who, in an ongoing process of dense life and resource scarcity, have developed an almost perfect scheme of space use, pedestrian ways, public places, a web of life into nature - this living space now is used by a population of 98 of which 80% are over 65 years old!
Cut off the daily life support that was provided through the traditional cooperation of the generations, these people face a life of hardship and poverty, the maintenance of the intensive agriculture, the living system around and inside the village, cannot be provided any more. For example the elementary school has closed down.
It is an irony that « NeoHori « means « New Village « in Greek, and yet it is an irony that might be turned into a symbol of hope if the initiative that is started with this website might succeed. You might want to know why Neohori, why this project? Even if we create "Laboratories of the Future", why dont we look for more convenient places? Well it is also about certain circumstances, meetings, talks.
Dr. Stamatis Skoutas, native of Neohori, has returned to Samos after
his studies in Italy. He is cofounder of the Aegean Health Institute and
is involved in various projects that strengthen health care and support
in Samos and the other islands of the Aegean Archipelagos. He is working
in the cities of Samos and Karlovasi. Still he thinks that "something
positive has to be done about Neohori", and he is optimistic that
all the new technologies can serve this purpose especially in areas less
favored by social and economic development. Neohori has enormous assets
in terms of natural beauty, local resources unused and decaying - the most
important of them being the water supply .
Dr. Skoutas is offering has made private land just above the village available given the possibility that a scheme for positive implantations to the village can be found. Of course, this move can only bear fruits if it is well-prepared and supported by many others that wish to help create a "working symbol of hope for sustainable development". It should prove economically feasible, reproduceable, beneficial.
At a Concertation Meeting of the European Commissions Telematic Research Programme in Brussels Dr. Skoutas met Franz Nahrada from Vienna, who has been a long time visitor to Samos years ago.Nahrada runs a little organization named GIVE, which has been active for five years creating conferences about "living spaces and lifes quality in the age of telecommunication" together with the municipality opf Vienna.The dedicated purpose of GIVE is to become involved in model villages that demonstrate the enormous multiplying effects of telematic technologies on all other aspects of life. "Telematics is a key technology", Nahrada says, "enabling us to choose the place and circumstance for life under completely new conditions". But this transformation to another lifestyle is combined with many design considerations and challenges - design of our Habitat. Therefore GIVE wants to be at the forefront of model development using artistic creativity and scientific knowledge alike. Neohori is not an easy case, but the potential outcome and the impact of this process might prove to the very depth how far we can go by transforming our environment alongside our new technical possibilities - and how much we would honor our heritage instead of wasting it.
The common purpose of Skoutas and Nahrada is to make Neohori a "health village", which increases peoples self-reliance and provides a positive alternative to the negative results of industrial age lifestyle. This health village is not a spa, sanatorium or hospital - in a nutshell, not a facility to take care of illness but rather a healthy village that prevents illness, a health maintainance facility . It provides all kinds of tools and support and of course also access to state of the art medical resources, but embedded in everyday life and not focussed on exceptional situations. We need to understand much deeper the roots of disease and gently build around this understanding a circumstance of optimizing our health and wellbeing. The environment in which we would like to live has yet to be constructed, and it cannot be built on todays premises. So we issue this challenge to collect positive energies towards creative change.
The development of such a healthy village should happen as a joint open research laboratory, applying and testing new ways of optimizing health in practice. This process should be available not only to villagers but also for an external population that might find a perfect framework for various activities - as long as they are also meaningful to the well-being of the village population. People who want to live a healthy life should co-create a circumstance that is rewarding, exciting and sustainable.
In conceptual talks, outlines, building blocks and areas for a proposal have been shaped, which is the conceptual core for the call which intends to challenge creative vision, cooperation and enlarge the community of participants. Read the proposal and see if you feel on the same wavelength. The call will be issued in the not too distant future.