Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Saturday 4th of June 2011 Notes of the conference (hf)

Opening session

Insa Winkler, Haroula Hadjinicolaou, Katerina Anghelaki Rooke, Anna Arvanitaki


Satursday June 3

Conference at the House for Literary Translations

10.00 Opening

  • Mayor of Rhodes

  • Region of South Aegean - Department of Culture

  • Vice mayor for Culture, Municipality of Rhodes

  • Anna Arvanitaki, president of POIEIN & PRATTEIN: introduction to the conference

  • Haroula Hadjinicolaou, curator of the action: ‘’Imperishable water’’ and the question of development

  • Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke: ‘’Destiny also flows’’, poems about nature

The conference presented first of all

- wetlands seen by the artists

- wetlands seen by the experts (planners)

so as to give space for reflections of the experiences made by the two main groups within the workshop.

However, in between the two groups special guests with a strong academic background along with a representative from WWF allowed for a glimpse as to what it shall take to find a more structured approach to water / wetland related issues.

Basically the one day conference served the purpose of validating the experiences made throughout that one week and to raise the overall level of reflection.


The experiences of the Workshop: artistic responses

Moderation: Haroula Hadjinicolaou

Haroula Hadjinicolaou

  • Workshop participants:

Alexandra Zanne: Screening of the action

Nikos Kasseris: photography

Phivos-Angelos Kollias: composition

Boudewijn Payens : visual art

Insa Winkler:environmental art

Iakovos Xenakis:visual art



Iakovos Xenakis pointing out the importance of water

Iakovos Xenakis exemplifies his remarks by showing a photo done by Boudewijn Payens depicting Maria Bakari drinking out of a glass of water. He wants to emphasize how important is water. As stated already during discussions throughout the week, he refers to the metaphor 'water' as an all encompassing embrace of life: without water, no life!


Alexandra Zanne

Alexandra Zanne explains how she conceived her task of making not just a documentary of the action, but out of the various materials she gathered in future a film. One example she showed depicts the participants as being themselves tourists. When they leave the bus, the camera swings to the seats and shows what materials have been left behind. It raises the issue of how easily waste can be created especially if not good habits have been adopted. The interesting point is that Indians when moving through nature, they do not leave any traces behind.

Phivos Kollias

Phivos Kollias denotes what it means to be a composer when working with natural sounds while using the computer to reconstruct a system which allows for noise to interfer with other noise and thereby creating something else than what the normal ear would hear when one walks through nature. Interference can mean disturbance but also in aesthetical terms a new experience. Since Schönberg and Adorno's aesthetical reflections thereof the quality of sound has gone much further. There is in Greece especially this tradition of using the computer to compose music. Iannis Xenakis was here a pioneer. Phivos can be seen as continuing this tradition and it is no coincidence that he lives and works in Paris while being himself from Rhodes.

Alexandra Zanne and Phivos Kollias


Nikos Kasseris, photographer 

Insa Winkler, environmental art

In her reflections of what took place during this one week, she wants to speak first of all as a witness of what Haroula had managed, namely to build "a bridge between being part in our creative explorations and at the same time responsible to keep the whole workshop floating", as "this is not an easy part."

From her foreign point of view, she would like to talk about the experiences made and perspectives discovered as a chance to deepen all what is on the 'Max Human Quality Index', and which she considers to be great to learn about this expression. By that she means an explicit hope that all participants who are from Rhodes, and therefore live and work on this island, will come back to these experiences in future and feel responsible in bringing home the new ideas which have been discussed during this one week of workshop. That is important as it shall create a fertile ground for change.

While participating in this week long workshop, she learned a lot ('of course only a bit') about Greece and Rhodesian culture. "Most exciting was to get the chance to talk with locals, to collaborate even with an entire community, to work with children, to even produce local food and in being educated along the way how to prepare this special food and then to share it with all."

She hopes that the next time, when she has the chance to come back to this beautiful island of Rhodes, that there would be an opportunity given to follow up at another level this kind of interaction with landscape and environment. She envisions something along the lines of eco tourism, and to do it in such a way that these ideas can be shared with the locals. This relates to what Nikos Anastasopoulos says about the importance of heeding the public domain and how open debates set the terms in the way nature is being treated not only individually, but collectively. It might work if dialogues take place on the spot and possibilities exist in long term development for regeneration. Here she thinks there is a chance for individual discussions to pass through a "natural net", and this together with a chance for revival in order to continue these kinds of actions and to follow them up with a variety of texts, including film and documentation.

Thus she would put a lot of emphasis upon this kind of collaboration, including the bringing together of film and sound as done by Alexandra Zanne and Phivos Kollias. From their angle it may produce images and high light performances linked to water / wetland related issues which can stimulate people to think further about nature and living together on earth. Definitely she looks forward to further results of this week long workshop, including what the catalogue promises to be.


Insa Winkler and Boudewijn Payens

Boudewijn Payens, artist

In his response, Boudewijn Payens refers to the beauty of Rhodes but which has come under increasing pressure due to recent developments especially in the tourist sector.


Part of the audience

Katerina Anghelaki Rooke, Anna Arvanitaki and Aliki Mouski


Man from forestry department

The man was a former director of the forestry department but is now retired. When he spoke in retrospect about his activities, then also about the research laboratory which was created on Rhodes for the purpose to follow developments of forests on the island.



The knowledge base about environment, development and communities’role

Moderation: Anna Arvanitaki, Maria Corsini-Foka, Michalis Chondros

  • Demetrius Rokos, professor Emeritus NTUA “Nature and Culture. Infrastructure Principles, Collective Initiatives and Actions for a Worth-living Integrated Development”

  • Efthimis Lekkas, professor, Department of Geology- University of Athens “The geo-environment of Rhodes”

  • Kimon Hadjibiros, assistant professor NTUA “Wetlands: environment, development, contradictions”

  • Fotini Vrettou, Biologist, WWF-GreeceLegal protection of island wetlands and citizens’ and municipalities’ possibilities for action”

  • Nikos Anastasopoulos, Lecturer NTUA “Latent meanings for the public and the common”

The humanistic outcry against destruction of nature

  • Demetrius Rokos, professor Emeritus NTUA “Nature and Culture. Infrastructure Principles, Collective Initiatives and Actions for a Worth-living Integrated Development”

Demetrius Rokos

"The parameters of the physical and socio-economic reality of a country or a region - as well as of their multiple inter-connections, interactions and changes over time - are indicative of its 'development' and the dialectic relationship between Nature and Culture in time and space. Today, both at local, national and international level, we are witnessing a dramatic downgrading and 'privatisation' of Nature, as well as a similar trivialisation and commercialisation of Cultures that defy Human intelligence and creative skills." - D. Rokos

The valuable insights of Prof. Lekkas

  • Efthimis Lekkas, Professor, Department of Geology- University of Athens “The geo-environment of Rhodes”

 Prof. Lekkas

In having just returned from Japan, he could link everyone to the disaster which had struck Japan on March 11, 2011. Then an earthquake related Tsunami wave struck the coastline of Japan which such overwhelming force, that it damaged among others the nuclear power station of Fukushima. After Chernobyl, it is considered to be the worst nuclear disaster.

Prof. Lekkas stressed one key point, namely that the Japanese authorities were aware of the risk to have built a nuclear power station close to the sea and consequently they had constructed a ten meter high protective wall to safeguard against any potential Tsunami wave. However, Prof. Lekkas was horrified when he saw this wall. For it cut off the people from the sea - something very difficult for a Greek to imagine since free access to the sea for everyone is a prime cultural consensus in Greece. To him as for any Greek it is inconceivable to be living beside the sea, but not being able to see it, never mind being able to go freely for a swim or else fishing. Alone the meaning of looking out onto the sea and scanning with the eyes the wide open horizon entails such a deep cultural element that it is inconceivable that Japanese people would live without such a horizon. Even more the wall in Japan proved to be highly ineffective. When the Tsunami wave struck the coast, it simply went over the wall and destroyed everything behind it in its path.

As to the geo-dynamic environment of Rhodes, his lecture underlined the importance of having a scientific base of knowledge about the morphology of the island of Rhodes. Future development must be based on realistic assumptions and such decisions have to be taken which take into consideration the dynamics affecting the geo-environment. Over time significant cultures emerged on the island. All had to do with a specific way of making use of the given resources, including that of water on the island.

The present is filled with anxierty, so it seems, as society does not have a clear idea about its cultural premises. There is the danger of over expansion which leads to an over exploitation of natural resources. His lecture leads one to think about a potential conflict in the making between the kind of development taking place due to a sole economic orientation and the geo-environment undergoing rapid deterioration like the drying up of rivers

The meaning of wetlands over time - a reflection by Prof. Hajibiros

  • Kimon Hadjibiros, assistant professor NTUA “Wetlands: environment, development, contradictions”

 Kimon Hadjibiros

Prof. Hadjibiros used epistemological explanations to point out a relationship between how things are named and what subsequent actions there shall follow in accordance with how things are named. This holds generally speaking for almost all actions e.g. if someone is perceived as a thief, then people will take precautions and call immediately for the police. The same applies for the wetlands. Kimon Hadjibiros pointed out for a long time wetlands were considered to be infested by monsters and a source of malaria. This has led to a mistreatment of wetlands, and more so to a justification of their outright removal by either draining the entire land or else using it for the construction of the new airport as is the case in Rhodes. Where the airport is now, there used to be two large wetlands. The term 'wetland' is relatively new and the consequence of scientific research which allowed a new perception of the value of wetlands. This new knowledge has yet to take root in popular culture, Kimon Hadjibiros wishes to point out, for only then a change in attitude and behavior towards wetlands can be expected. Implied in this scientific approach is only once this knowledge is filtered down through the education system and reaches the generations growing up right now, then perception of nature shall be based on scientific evidence and not mere hear-say, even superstition as made evident by the various myths surrounding wetlands.

In listening to such argumentation, it indicates where Greece stands with regards to science and enlightenment, namely just at the beginning of a disillusionment which has set in a long time with science and which prompted the sociologist Mannheim to refer to a relative knowledge base of society. And it is not evident that people will embrace and accept scientific knowledge but rather their prejudices and mysterious beliefs about all sorts of things will remain like pockets of resistance. Also science has come largely into disrepute due to think tanks producing often knowledge which suits the industry and other interests, but does nothing to give politics some real options to current trends linked to only a certain kind of development model.

Representative of WWF

  • Fotini Vrettou, Biologist, WWF-GreeceLegal protection of island wetlands and citizens’ and municipalities’ possibilities for action”

Legal protection of island wetlands & Citizens’ and municipalities’ possibilities for action

Our perception of wetlands has changed over the years: wetlands are no longer considered nuisance environments or a waste of land, but ecosystems of great aesthetic and habitat value.

This notion is reflected in the law. Nowadays we can use several legal tools to: 1) prevent a possible degradation and 2) to ensure the protection of the island wetlands. However the main problem remains the interpretation and implementation of relevant legislation.

The new Greek biodiversity conservation law and the expected presidential decree constitute important and useful tools for the protection of island wetlands.

WWF-Greece tries to make use of the available legal instruments for the protection of island wetlands. The conservation organization undertakes a series of actions, such as the submission of proposals for the institutional protection of wetlands and the provision of support to complaints regarding wetland degradation.

Citizens and municipalities that wish to protect their wetlands can use various legal tools:

1) Municipalities can designate a wetland as protected and implement projects of conservation and restoration of the wetlands.

2) Citizens can visit and become familiar with the wetlands in their area; become active in local environmental groups and protect the wetlands in collaboration with the authorities.

WWF-Greece is willing to support all citizens and municipalities in their efforts to conserve island wetlands.

Fotini Vrettou Assistant in Public Participation Projects WWF-Greece.

Ba in Biology (University of Crete) and MSc “Environment and Development” (National Technical University Athens). Since 2007 has worked for the “Protection of island wetlands” project and on the citizens’ legal support group of WWF-Greece.


The public meaning of actions by Nikos Anastasopoulos

  • Nikos Anastasopoulos, Lecturer NTUA “Latent meanings for the public and the common”

Nikos Anastasopoulos

For Nikos Anastasopoulos most crucial is the notion of the 'latent public' and what term of references can be created by means of public debate with regards to use of resources. As this is contingent on understanding the degree to which the public can shape the practical agenda, his position is that regardless of private versus public ownership, nature, air and water belong to a common domain. For him the workshop highlighted one key need, namely to recognize nature as a "non negotiable common resource". Out of this follows the need to realize an interrelationship of man with nature exists and only on this premise can be met the challenges of governance within an economic setting which claims use of resources in only a certain way.

Given his vast experience with community building processes, he would like to emphasize above all the importance of all actions being rooted in the local domain. It should be done to draw out this 'latent public' and give it a voice to shape future developments.


Another contribution from the audience

while listening or else sharing information

Fotini Vrettou, Alexandra Zanne, Phivos Kollias


Action with 'ice cubes' by Boudewijn Payens

"I have given the group a picture in the form of a joint action. We built a stairway with ice, which symbolizes our partnership. During the conference, the ice melted and formed a small stream of water.

Each can see this image on his own approach.

For me it symbolizes the magnitude of the problem.

On the one hand, the ice makes possible to bring water to places where it is effective. On the other hand, research like the action with the ice can quickly disappear when not acted upon immediately."

Boudewijny Payens

Boudewijn Payens with Maria Bakari


Anna Arvanitaki, Fotini Vrettou, Aliki Mouski

Each participant of the workshop stands behind one ice cube

Another angle of Boudewijn Payens

Each participant but also members of the audience watching the action were asked to take an ice cube and to carry it around the House for Translation and place it on the stairs leading up to a higher plateau.

Mayor of Rhodes along with audience

Boudewijn Payens, Phivos Kollias, Maria Barkari, Alexandra

Boudewijn Payens going with others up the stairs

Iakovos Xenakis looking back at ice beginning to drip




The experiences of the Workshop: interdisciplinary approaches

Moderation: Nikos Anastasopoulos, Ilias Argyris, Stamatis Moschous

  • Haroula Hadjinicolaou- Educators/Elementary School of Soroni-Elementary School of Archangelos: “Working in nature with children”


Male teacher who accompanied class of children to Platis river

There is a common belief amongst local residents of Rhodes that teacher are over privileged while themselves uneducated as if unable to read and to write. Such a prevailing perception is one way to explain the failures of the education system and what children have to go through while at school.

Naturally in view of the crisis with a youth unemployment around 50% in 2011, there is a great apprehension as to what the Greek educational system amounts to. Some say it adds up in the final end to a complete failure. Still, someone like Anna Arvanitaki would like to point out, that there are many good initiatives taking place, initiatives started by teachers themselves in a bottom-up process. Equally Haroula Hadjinicolaou through her work at the Benaki museum / children section knows from first hand experiences what efforts are made alone through her section to introduce school classes to the world of the museum.

Still, on both days of our interaction with school children, something deeply disturbing was experienced. For while one teacher was excellent, the other one seemed most authoritarian and regressive. The failure to control the children in a simple way was over compensated by shouting and even using degrading language. At one point, a teacher claimed that children are only egoists and therefore have to be kept strictly in the class room and not anywhere else, that is outside and in nature.

As this reflects in administrative terms a most rigid and dogmatic definition of learning, it can be presumed that learning has to take place in accordance with this strict definition. In other words, learning has to take place only in a formally recognized setting, and then under the auspices of a restrictive school system which is still largely under the influence of the Orthodox church. It has apparently never sank in that definitions in especially social terms need to be handled in a dialectical open way, so as to allow experiences made to re-define the original concept. That applies as Prof. Hadjibiros to the term 'wetland'.

The problem teacher-pupils relationship goes, however, deeper for the lack of mutual respect reflects in turn what children hear from their parents and other adults about teachers at school and what they experience themselves first at hand when attending classes.

Interestingly enough, the teacher in question reflected at the conference the experience he made during the action as a valuable lesson. Before he was against learning from nature by going outside the class room, but now he would see that differently. The chance to alter perception as to what is happening when learning takes place, that has to be given by such actions as made possible, for example, during that one week at the Platis river. When both teachers and pupils enter a relationship with a diverse group composed by artists and other experts, then by doing something outside the class room learning becomes also a freedom to experience other things. While Boudjiwin Payens strived towards showing reverence to nature and this by drawing the children into this task of making small floats, in order to initiate a new kind of communication not only with nature but amongst themselves, Insa Winkler showed how to go from the creation of a sculpture to a social sculpture which remains in the minds of the children. And unforgetable was the way the children enjoyed just sliding down a heap of pebbles piled up beside the river embankment. Too seldom can children still experience this freedom to play in so called 'dirt' but which is just natural material.

Learning from nature is, however, not that easy in a society which is over alienated and restricted by all these formal rules and definitions. Moreover, it is doubtful if interaction with nature should be reduced to ritual forms. Rituals imply the need to follow certain rules and rites which allow to rediscover something like ancient wisdoms, or at least this is being often claimed. In reality, rituals have been over expensive ways of showing reference and usually serve the purpose of keeping the local economy going by making all sorts of by products needed to perform the ritual. To obliterate this economic aspect of rituals, nature is then treated very much like a God or Goddess. Very often that leads to a kind of mysticism and can be used to delineate oneself from present circumstances. The latter is in reality marked by cars which end up standing still due to a traffic jam because everyone wants to attend the religious ceremony or else everyone is just returning home around the same time.

It seems as if the West is inclined more to produce a cultural schizophrenia by seeking to compensate Western rationality by turning Eastward, in order to celebrate a different approach to life. Arthur Koestler in his book 'Yogi and the Commissioner' showed, however, what he preferred more after he had appraised the Master-Pupil relationship to strictly adhered to whenever there is but a verbal transmission of knowledge. Mysticism is a part of this indulgance in another way of life which presupposes looking the other way and distracting oneself from all the 'negative news' by just thinking of calmness and peace. What Arthur Koestler meant with his example is that Western knowledge is still based on written notes which show that progress has been made insofar perceptions of things can change the moment further experiences are added. This has also implications for the change in definitions or what would be taking up the difference between definitions and reality.

Alone to keep a record of these changes is a part of the ongoing learning process. The EU has subscribed itself to this life long learning which Ana Magraner from the European Commission calls 'life long love'. And that means you have to love children before wishing to teach them. Only by giving them the chance to learn in all the freedom can they experience and thereby get to know their environment. The path they shall take in future does not have to follow the models of former pioneers which led to conquest. Rather they have to discover a way of how they shall survive in future not only as an individual within a given society and all its problems, but how this society will conceive its development chances.

When it comes to 'lessons of matter' and approaching nature, philosophy is very often neglecting this aspect due to a tendency towards Idealism. If one goes back to Parmenides, then there existed already this question about the 'unity of perception' since very different when living in a city compared to when man is still surrounded only by nature. There seems to be at work a different trust in the senses which let nature unfiy perception whereas in a city the human being rationalizes and observes, but cannot connect between the inputs given through the senses and the whole or what the city represents as what kind of cosmos?

Perhaps Gaughin expressed it best when he called Europe and Western civilization as sick because it would not allow that what he experienced as being possible once he was in Taihiti, for then any spontaneous expression would allow him while painting some scene to connect the parts with the whole. This is exactly the problem nowadays. Instead of having a clear understanding of what governs the relationships between the whole and the parts, the whole has been replaced by a variety of attempts from calling it God, Greece or USA, to seeking 'holistic' explanations, and if that does not work to resort to some generalized term like Capitalism, global society, Western world etc. But how to relate to 350 Million or more Europeans when the European Union as a project is beset with huge problems linked to not only an economic crisis, but as well to a political form which does not really satisfy anyone, lest the citizens of Europe.

Thus to come back to the overall impetus of this workshop and conference, one strand of thought has been that over emphasis of the environment as articulated by the ecologists, environmentalists and political groups like the GREENS has not managed to rectify the dispirited relationship of man to nature and neglected the land use policy derived from a nearly non existing planning system. This educational challenge as to what knowledge can be communicated to future generations not only about nature, but how different cultures have treated nature, that can begin with a reminder that any society needs 'wild' or 'untouched places'. Land use plans have to include such places where nature can be experienced relatively free from man's intervention. But given 'climate change' this intervention has reached like the economy itself global dimension and affects whatever life there is on earth.

Female teacher

She participated together with her male colleague in the action at Platis river. The children came well prepared; they brought with them pebble stones for purpose of making that sculpture together with Insa Winkler.


Anna Arvanitaki introducing the interdisciplinary approaches

As President of Poiein kai Prattein, she would like to point out that this NGO whose name stands for 'create and do' has been doing all along inter-disciplinary work, but together with Haroula Hadjinicolaou this has reached a new dimension. Thanks to her vision artists, scientists, engineers, planners like herself, philosophers and poets have come together and together they have enriched a mutual understanding of water / wetland related issues. Now she will want to introduce the more analytical side of the group even though someone like Maria Bakari would think of her work as having to do with another kind of organisational logic not solely determined by analytical terms. Here might be helpful to introduce the notion of 'intuition' and to give due consideration as to what is its role in seeking knowledge about nature and ourselves when it comes to relate to nature.



Experiences of the Workshop: interdisciplinary approaches

Moderation: Nikos Anastasopoulos, Ilias Argyris, Stamatis Moschous

  • workshop participants - second group

Maria Bakari/Organisational psychologist

Ilias Argyris/Surveying Engineer-Applied Geoinformatics

Michalis Chondros/Civil Engineer

Maria Corsini-Foka/Biologist-Hydrobiological Station of Rhodes

Stamatis Moschous/Environmentalist


Maria Bakari/Organisational psychologist


Maria Bakari

"Destiny also flows... "

And so it happens that our lives become waterfalls in these incredible


Time and kairos has been very intense for me and this country (and I

feel the whole world, indeed!...) recently...

Some of the many (more than 1.700!!!) photos I took during our learning journey. Here is the link to the photos ~ you can also freely download from there (credit to the photo~grapher would be nice, if your memory allows but then again that also flows, light and capturing of it all!... ;-) 





The poetic and philosophical dimensions


Reading of her poems by Katerina Anghelaki Rooke

The poems of hers deal as much with water as with nature but in the discussion Katerina Anghelaki Rooke posed a question most crucial within the current Greek context: "when is a compromise not something to be condemned out of moral reasons but something justified?" With all the heated debates about how to resolve the debt crisis of Greece, political agitation has driven many into such fundamental opposition to politics and politicians, that anything looking like a compromise is condemned. If her thought is taken further, then there is a need to clarify different meanings of compromise, and this in comparison to such important phases in Italy when reference was made to the 'historical compromise' the Communist party sought at that time with the ruling Conservatives, in order to bring about both an internal and external dialogue between different political camps and between East and West. Naturally her inclination would be to give the term 'compromise' a poetic interpretation coming much closer to what she generally views as being in the nature of things, namely that they are full of paradoxes and which do not make decision making either easier or safer when assuming just the one or other version (or interpretation) of reality.

Extrovert Nature

Nature is extrovert by nature; whatever it prepares it is always to show to the sun. Nature is open - only living creates see closed horizons - because every path leads to a clearing every open sea to a port and all those stars, had you endless nights you could count them all had you not sunk into your own darkness you wouldn't have lost count. Nature incessantly tells you how it is to live with water with leaves, with the antennae of intuition with the innocent that take their revenge the damned you suffer nature reveals for you her boilding entrails her craters overflowing with longevity. Nature never stops showing you the other side of evil dark beings that suddenly throw light to visible ones; nature really confesses as night falls: „Another day gone and I failed again to abolish life's wear“. Nature never hides anything enviously; the winds disclose all the secrets of its heart All except the one it will never reveal: the secret of its existence. Perhaps nature itself doesn't know it.

Katerina Anghelaki Rooke

Note: Further poems of hers about nature can be found on the website of Poiein kai Prattein.


'Down by the river' by Hatto Fischer

The articulation of a true human spirit is based on the ability to listen to different voices.They become audible in different forms of existence, a sea shell soliciting sounds when held close to the ear something else when listening to the wind stroking through pine trees. Always in nature sound combines water in a river or of a sea with land surrounding it or being close by. When looking at these relations, it makes aware that everything serves a specific function even though many of them escape our perception and means of understanding. But then when wishing to talk about the relation of nature to society and vice versa, there is this remark by Nikos Kasseris about those women who used to wash their clothes down by the river. They no longer do. So how to go from such a memory piece to more specific ideas about water and wetlands in our day and age. Articulation thereof may be best in a poetic-philosophical way!

Down by the river – where we used to play.

Shifting sandbanks reflected the curvatures of the river.

Always we made our thoughts while throwing into the water sticks to see them head downstream.

The river could be seen already from far away. Through the trees. The river could be smelled.

As children we would approach the river with caution.

Only later on, we plunged into the cold water. The stream took us quickly down stream. We had to swim hard to make it ashore.

And then there is the story by Mark Twain of Huckleberry Finn who took a raft and went down the Mississippi with the run away slave Jim. That meant adventure. The two went down the river, but not to sell Jim, but to be together. They became in due course one and the same, a destiny and a life longing for freedom.

A river moves, but stays quiet in pockets of shores where the current slows down and the fishes rest for a while.

It is amazing what can be experienced down by the river where the women come to wash the clothes or animals to drink around sunset. It is a time when the day birds hush up while the night owl has not as of yet awaken. It is when the beaver makes one more crossing and the shadows from the trees along the shore begin to merge with the water growing darker with every minute of the sunset.

So I don't mean necessarily the song by Neil Young but it is a good entry point:

Down by the River

Be on my side,
I'll be on your side,
There is no reason
for you to hide
It's so hard for me
staying here all alone
When you could be
taking me for a ride.

Yeah, she could drag me
over the rainbow,
send me away
Down by the river
I shot my baby
Down by the river,
Dead, oh, shot her dead.

You take my hand,
I'll take your hand
Together we may get away
This much madness
is too much sorrow
It's impossible
to make it today.

Yeah, she could drag me
over the rainbow,
send me away
Down by the river
I shot my baby
Down by the river,
Dead, oh, shot her dead.

Be on my side,
I'll be on your side,
There is no reason
for you to hide
It's so hard for me
staying here all alone
When you could be
taking me for a ride.

Yeah, she could drag me
over the rainbow,
send me away
Down by the river
I shot my baby
Down by the river,
Dead, oh, shot her dead.

Audience with Kimon Hadjibiros turning towards the Prof. and Mrs. Rokos



Drafting of Memorandum of Understanding about wetlands of Rhodes

Moderation: Kimon Hadjibiros



The idea of Insa Winkler to convert either plastic toys and other things used for swimming by tourists into renewable parts or else instead of being purchased, be available for rental purposes. If this to take place and be adopted by the tourist sector, what are the barriers to change use of all kinds of equipments? One obvious reason is even if unfounded fears by tourists to re-use things for just hygienic reasons.

What the workshop did bring about is a 'biotop of ideas'.

The crucial question remains at what level does development address the need of governance, the latter itself being both complex and in need of a variety of good responses. The workshop can be taken as a good example of an interdisciplinary group touching upon many issues. It was already a test case of how to inspire change and to aspire for change in policy and implementation process.

Crucial is not to resign to bureaucracy and many issues / problems remaining unresolved due to a lack of planning. Mariolina: she has become pessimistic after twenty years of work within the public administration, but now the group has given her again hope. She and Anna Arvanitaki had a strong connection as they understood each other as to the difficulties of working within Greek administration.

Haroula Hadjinicolaou and Insa Winkler 




Nets and Networking


Interaction with the public: Working towards a new identity of wetlands

Co-ordinated by Insa Winkler and Maria Bakari


 Insa Winkler and Maria Bakari unraveling the net

Net spun out to connect all participants 


Nets and networking

How nets can cath somethings without taking everything with them, provided their loopholes are large enough to let through the smaller ones. But those who cannot slip through the holes, but end up being caught up in the net, they may reflect for what purposes these nets have been cast in the first polace.

Using nowadays a new net to make sure that there is no over fishing e.g. by use of drag nets which take everything with them, means to strike a balance between what mankind needs to eat and what fish stock must be kept intact, if fishing is to be sustainable. That example makes explicit that technological advances can go much further than what nature is able to sustain.

Nature is protected against all kinds of invasions, but not against everything mankind does both on a daily basis and on a structural one. When the oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico burst and the oil leak could not be stopped immediately, the huge environmental damage to the entire gulf became evident for all to see. Yet the oil companies continue to push for obtaining permissions to build such platforms even in the Mediterranean Sea. The latter is most vulnerable and is hard to imagine what would happen if a similar accident would pollute the entire sea.

Use of the metaphor has become common place insofar as everyone would say, that you have to network or be within a network. That interconnectivity differs, however, from the virtual net needed for the protection of the earth, sea, air and biodiversity. The question is if networking matches the need to uphold as well cultural diversity.

Positively speaking, such networks that bring people into connection with nature can instigate further such interactions needed for the creation of cultural landscapes. By initiating other interactions of mankind with nature e.g. restoring river banks to their original forms and enhancement of biodiversity, cultural landscapes are signified by mankind being able to take care of nature while making active use of its resources. It is done in a prudent way. As every little niche offers a haven for biodiversity, straightened out rivers or even corseted ones i.e. channels, do not leave any such niches. It shows that the moment a different agenda dominates, one not dedicated solely to shipping wishing like cars a straight transportation link, but rather valueing the diversity of life, then rivers with their curves and different bays will stay intact.

The art of networking with nature will have to include 'open spaces' derived from the fact that land is accessible to all. It means at the same time, this part of nature can be left alone. It will remain untouched as there is only possible to go there on foot. Alone the banning of vehicles would alter already the degree of accessibility as it limits as well the range and scope of man's penetration into nature. If 'wild life' can prevail, then the notion of being able to go anywhere would delineate what nature means to mankind. By leaving land accessible to natural life, it would bring about a real sense of protection of the land and as Insa Winkler would say not only for protected zones, but for the entire earth.

"Entangled" - photo by Boudewijn Payens


Open Question of Development

Working hypothesis  

  • the open question of development consists of a cluster of activities all forming sooner or later a definite pattern by which existence is sustained over time
  • music and development, sound and space or what increases the volume, the pitch, the noise level (some leading ideas can be taken from Phivos Kollias)
  • types of technical interventions in nature e.g. the dam lake
  • use of nature or rather interaction with nature beyond mere practical use: the aesthetical dimension of cultural landscapes
  • How memories work when developments are reduced to mere consumption patterns and therefore bring about a 'poverty of experience' with regards to nature?
  • the need to alter the relationship to nature and the earth
  • not consumption but preservation of natural spaces and their beauty
  • alterations in value systems e.g. unused land which is not build on is often perceived as waste if there could be made money with the land
  • the legal system prompting people to build rather than preserve land
  • natura 2000 landscapes and the planning system based on quite another notion of land use
  • urban and non urban land as the Right to build everywhere rather than uphold a clear distinction between urban land, rural and natural countrysite and agricultural land
  • with new energy sources like windparks and solar parks evoking a new demand for land



How to unify different texts?

Certainly a workshop like this shall and has produced different texts, and now given some of the scientific treatments it becomes even more complicated when seeking a unified text to underline the outcome of this action on Rhodes.

There is a long line of development from different archaic signs to the first written texts, and from there to the abstract formulas used in mathematics and nowadays in computer programming.  

Within the workshop, different texts were made up by poems, hand written notes, water coloured paintings like those of Iakovos Xenakis at the river Platis, but also various presentations (from power point ones to just formal essays). All in all, these texts can be enriched by various forms of media, including film and sound.

Altogether the aim to publish a catalogue (done by August 2012, that is one year later) is a first attempt to unify these different texts and their corresponding voices.

However, there are other important texts whose fate has to be traced e.g. Memorandum of Understanding and the re-draft of the EU Water directive 2000 as a first concrete proposal to ensure that the directive is applied within the European Union with greater consideration to the specific nature to be found in the Mediterranean and is not merely adapted to Northern European typologies and morphologies. As Prof. Lekkas says development has to take into consideration the geo-environmental dynamics.

In the final end, nature is not just a resource to be shared by all as proposed wisely by Nikolas Anastasopoulos, but is itself the basic text and chiffre on which to base all assumptions about survival on earth and what is conceivable in terms of sustainable development.



Reading signs of nature - a question of literarcy

First of all, archaic signs were read under the assumption that man and nature were still one, but the complicated universe of man required an enormous distance from the ground, in order to fly as imagined and to occupy land. Somehow it meant claiming the 'high ground' over the 'low ground'. Out of it emerged a different way of writing which made time and space as abstract concepts conceivable, and therefore man built environment as something distinct from what would have meant in times of Odyssey just sleeping underneath a wild and tamed olive tree.

In today's world communication is dominated by abstract signs as used by those doing computer programming. As a matter of fact many of these signs stand for formulas according to which a bundle of energy can be made into an intelligible unit which brings forth some result if tapped into.

We do read signs when clouds gather on the horizon and farmers predict a thunder sturm is about to erupt in a short while. But can we read really all the signs nature is giving us everyday? What about the breaking away of an entire ice shelf in Greenland as if to indicate 'climate change' is seriously under way?

The difficulties of reading all these signs is that these can be misused and interpreted as if a sign of God. More so such an interpretation can prevail when an entire generation resigns and rather than face the flood waters accept them as a way of punishment by God for what man has done. This feeling guilty makes itself felt in many ways when negative developments are bemoaned but nothing done about them.

The poetic dimension would allow a feather float down or else someone like Katerina Anghelaki Rooke would call it the extravert side of nature when she would show signs such as the cherry trees blossoming in Japan and which is understood there every year when it happens as an indication of what life is all about, namely beautiful but short. Only in 2011 this celebration when families go outdoors to picknick underneath the cherry trees was muted. Due to the accident at Fukushima nuclear plant on March 11th 2011 because of the Tsunami wave, no one dared really to go outdoors. Yet as Boudewijny Payens had explained onhand of his experience in the Chernobyl region even ten years later the people still did not know how to cope with this 'invisible danger' of nuclear radiation in the air since it cannot be touched or smelled or be seen. Thus the quest has to be what signs make visible these invisible dangers if not the geiger counter?  



Narratives about water - or tear drops as metaphor

There is the story of the raindrop to resolve loneliness and the quest to be unified within the same element, that is water, with all the other drops of water forming as a mass the river, the sea, the ocean and which after condensation become again the clouds which release in time again water as rain. Here comes the rain!

That metaphor of being all alone as individual in a mass of people is reminded when the title 'a tear drop in the ocean' (Manes Sperber) is used to show how fragile is any attempt to upend an all powerful system, the Communist one one kind, that of Capitalism and its neo-liberal elite quite another. It matters, therefore, what is meant when the USA does not agree since Kyoto to any self constrained economy for the benefit of the earth but rather prefers to give the Right of Freedom to expand to corporations regardless what damages they inflict upon the environment when exploiting people and resources for their sole benefit of making reckless profits. There have to be found answers to this loss of words vis a vis developments which leave freedom of expression far behind the demand to succumb to a value consensus which goes against the majority of people in the name of 'majority rule'.

Definitely, it became an attempt of the workshop to step out of the neoliberal framework of references and seek a new paradigm which would help overcome the impoverishment of nature due to an over commercialization of culture. Once everything is reduced to entertainment, the critical dimension of culture shall be without a voice.

Heartening was the voice of the child when interacting with a class of pupils at the Seven Springs in response to the question how would you save a drop of water: "by turning off the tap when brushing the teeth!" Simple things start in practice with developing good habits. At the same time, habits are not sufficient to sustain a way of behaving and dealing with nature in accordance with another kind of economy which consumes less energy and above all water, so as to safeguard it as common resource for all and beyond for all creatures and plants on this planet. Water as common resource has to become again an inspiration for all and like the discussions which used to take place at the well when fetching drinking water, the literarcy to be gained by not walking over water, but by saving it, would mean according to Paulo Freire another methodology is needed before a common language could bloster efforts to learn out of the failures of Kytoto, Johannesburg and Copenhagen, just to name three stations but there are many more.

Clearly a dried out river bed has to be taken as a sign that soon the ground underneath the surface shall also soon be dried out and when this reduces the underground water resservoir, then something has to be done about all the illegal drilling for water by all kinds of private owners who deal with the land as if their own and this without regard for the common use of water by all. Private law and use of water shall mean conflicts are programmed if not handled in a way that the common interest can prevail and therefore no one is privileged when it comes to having access to clean i.e. drinkable water.  



Perception of nature

When visiting the Arterium, the group was made conscious of the fact that perhaps the Romans knew in their times more about how to link water with pleasure than what is the case nowadays when everything is made functional, even if expensive hotels pride themselves in having all sorts of swimming pools.

Natural water is linked to sensitivity and sensuality due to it being a clean and flowing element which does arouse the senses all the more when human touch of the body is done so under water. It is like the sounds which travel under water when two stones are hit together and which Dolphins and other creatures of the sea pick up many knots away. And there is this word 'knot' by which the speed of a boat is calculated and which means the strength of the wind was measured originally how quickly over board went a rope with knots due to the boat being dragged behind receding ever fast as the main boat gathers speed due to the upcoming wind.

But perception is by itself already a philosophical problem clearly described by someone like Merleau Ponty but never taken up seriously by the rest of philosophy. The latter engaged itself in a phenomenological direction and has been stuck ever since in that corner. As Viktor von Weizsäcker differenes in perception can already be explained by standing still compared to walking and even running ever faster. The quicker the movement, the greater the abstraction in what is perceived as lying ahead. Consequently in this fast moving global world perception of nature has become as abstract as looking down on earth from the height of an airplane or even satellite. At the same time, Google has made possible the scanning into ever closer focus till the street and the house become distinctly visible. They are right now working in making these three dimensional images ever concreter. It is going to be used by those with i-pods and mobile phones to root or rather to locate themselves when walking through the streets of a strange street. The coordinates for such location possibilities is amazing. A click on the i-pad and it will tell immediately not only where you are but at which address. Likewise the police has no difficulties in locating the person using such a device.

Still, perception as a result of education can now be adopted to special measures in need to be taken so that people overcome their alienation from nature. Insa Winkler designed a park in which people and especially children could taste different qualities of water as it came not only out of pipes but differs when running over stones compared to roots of trees. This makes 'experience' an essential part of how things are perceived, and as demonstrated in this particular project by Insa Winkler, safety regulations by the German TÜV (Technical Control for Safety) had to be overcome so that children could experience wild waters.

In other words, there are many reasons for what limits the perception of nature, lest of all the lack of experiencing nature in a way which does make sense and does not frighten the person into believing nature is only a dangerous unknown.



The myth of the nympths - or springs as source of water
By re-enacting the myth of the nympths, the action during this week drew attention that narratives about water entail many components. It reaffirms as perceived already by the Romans the belief that water is identical with healing and cleansing, as much as it serves the purpose of refreshment on a hot day and as access to many other forms of pleasure. 
In Western literature, there is this exceptional narrative by James Jocye about 'Analiva'. She is described as if like a river with many tributes which feed into her main stream. Thus when going upstream, the women washing clothes at this river shall gossip about her for they have become curious how she ended up with so many children - side rivers - as if she had a lot of men to make love to. It becomes even more mysterious the further they imagine going upstream to find the source of this river, the spring and where in Greek mythology it was said this is the place of the nympths: at the place of birth of the river. 
Translated into a dialogue between cultures, a river with many tributes reflects the need for the main stream of human self consciousness being fed by many side streams so that the common bondage of all people to earth is not lost out of sight or given up. It would mean the future agenda for world governance as advocated by Jürgen Habermas has to link nature with water as common source of inspiration and from which all should benefit.  



Movement of water - movement in water

There runs swiftly the Isar river through the city of Munich. The current is so swift that it is fascinating to watch how quickly different forms are shaped at the surface of the water, if only to dissolve as quickly as it has been formed. It matters if the water flows past a branch hanging deep into the water or else if the swift current goes around a bend. Whirlpools can be formed and then there are the quiet corners to which the ducks tend to go for a moment of rest.

The movement of water is often swift and silent but it can also become loud when the wind picks up and moreover the water falls. This is why people going on canoe trips in Canada call those rivers with rapids 'white rivers'. They foam and create noise as water falls onto itself while crashing into even more rocks below.

Thus the movement through water either as a swimmer or in a boat differs when the river is calm or else picks up speed as it approaches those rapids. In many cases the rapids cannot be shot, and then like the Indians used to do, it is time to portage the canoe to the river below the rivers, that is where there is calm water again and the flow silent and easy for the paddlers to handle again.

A hand waved through water is like gliding with the sea gull above to feel what it means to go with the resistance - the hand with the substance of water, the sea gull with the wind and the air currents.

It might never be possible to bridge this difference between the many forms which exist for but a split second if only to disappear the next moment and what forms man needs to perceive something as existing not only for a short while but as it appears permanently like the earth which is assumed to be around even after death. That is why it was so revealing when Katerina Anghelaki Rooke suddenly exclaimed after having listened to the evening discussions pointing out what calamities await nature, earth, the ecological balance system when water dries out and the earth may no longer be around if climate change has a full impact. She exclaimed that now she understands something, and went on to explain that we are all members of a family of fear. All of us belong to such a family if we believe the earth is no longer something stable and shall be around even when we are no longer alive. Then she admitted this is the first time she realized that a lot of man's mythology rests on this assumption that even after death the earth will stay around and therefore can be considered as permanent resting place. Once this assumption is given up, then only fear remains as to what shall happen to humanity once the earth is no longer a safe haven forever? 


Stories of the wetlands

The first thing the group can tell that it was not clear at first what constitutes a river and what is a wetland. After this experience it can be said the two belong together but still the difference remains to be seen in the way deltas function where rivers enter the sea or what can be said about land being just made 'wet' by a bit of water. The latter may not even be flowing but this does not mean 'destiny still flows'. Here then the link between stories about wetlands can be made to Katerina Anghelaki Rooke's poem and which served as inspiration for this entire action. The poem talks about 'imperishable water' and made concrete in the minds of the participants what is entailed when seeking sustainable development. In the end, all people are deeply concerned about water and wetland related issues not only on the island of Rhodes but throughout the world. That is why a new collection of stories about wetlands is needed to illuminate upon narratives in need to be told. 


Awareness campaign
How to solicit attention to the experiences made during this one week? The publication of the catalogue will definitely be a next step. It will take time but then a key to quality is as Haroula Hadjinicolaou would emphasize knowing what it takes to bring about something like a new awareness.
By bringing together different people, by having the discussions enriched by artistic actions and philosophical observations, the entire action moved beyond the sphere of mere experimentation. It was also not just experience orientated as observations were linked to lectures and countless presentations which high lighted different angles. It included a NGO producing children books in order to bring nature closer to the imagination of a child growing up often far away from the cry of the owl.
In another step, the work on the website will want to extend the reflections of the experiences made. It will depend on how this reference of Poiein kai Prattein can become the archive.
There has been expressed a desire by Anna Arvanitaki to establish in unison with WWF an alarm system as to when encroachment upon the land oversteps all legal boundaries but which is still tolerated in a society that has a tendency towards legalizing the illegal in retrospect e.g. politicians imposing a mere fine for someone who has constructed illegally a house.
Even the common access to the sea has become less and less a cultural consensus. Here a need to reaffirm this consensus should not be linked to such false images as law abiding citizens, for only real needs to preserve the free access to the sea will guarantee that this is respected by all, including hotel owners, casinos, yatch club managers etc. That touches in turn on issues linked to a private property / ownership orientated society which tends to neglect the common good.
This is why public discourse has to pick up this notion of 'latent public' as advanced by Nikos Anastasopoulos. Taken a step further, the WWF advises attention has to be given to how local communities shape their agenda in order to make sure the environment and the protection of the land remains at the top of the agenda. Without reinforcement and good arguments nothing can alter the overall situation, and it is not enough to just protest.
Definitely artists and scientists, engineers and planners, philosophers and poets, they can together give a voice to these deeper concerns often not referred to but which Katerina Anghelaki Rooke has coined as all of us belonging to the 'family of fear' due to what is happening to this earth.
Reflecting this planet out of the perspective of wetlands what is mirrored in the water makes one think of the famous saying by Lenin the world could not be reflected in a puddle, but if read as a sign of nature when there is even too little water left for the Gizani fish to survive despite being a Lillipulitan as described by Maria Corsini Foka, then it is time to alter our perception of nature and of what mankind is doing to rectify this situation.

Hatto Fischer Athens 20.8.2012

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