Category Archives: News

MAZI-Together in Sarantaporo, two days workshop

555

In January 15th -17th, a two days visit and workshop took place in the area of Sarantaporo. More precisely, about twenty members of the MAZI project -which is a new EU Horizon2020 project- artists, researchers and activists together with members of the core team of sarantaporo.gr and locals, had the opportunity to meet discuss, eat and drink and of course exchange ideas about the expansion of the network and its potential role as a common network infrastructure that can support local services of different types. Although the rainy weather didn’t favorise expanded excursions in the area, several meetings took place in Kokkinopilos, Pytheion, Tsiartsiani and Sarantaporo villages, fruitful meetings that resulted to plans for closer collaboration and organisation of events in the near future. A couple of weeks before, Panayiotis Antoniadis from NetHood, Zurich, part of the MAZI project visited the Sarantaporo area and wrote this article at NetHood blog.

And few photos from the meeting and the landscape by Dimitris Geronikos.

 

562

Two days at the other side of Mount Olympos (day 1)

sarantaporo_olympos_view_sarantaporo

with Achilleas Vaitsis, by Panayotis Antoniadis

On January 15-17th, members of the MAZI project will be among others at the Sarantaporo area for a 3-day symposium hosted by the team of Sarantaporo.gr. We will visit different villages in the area that are part of the network, including the “headquarters” at Sarantaporo, and will discuss with locals about the present and the future of this remarkable effort on network commoning.

To get a first impression of the network and better organize the symposium, I spent recently two days in the area with Achilleas Vaitsis, co-founder of Sarantaporo.gr, and I feel like documenting this experience hoping to generate some reflections that will help the discussions during the symposium.

I admit that even if I have read a lot about this project, I hadn’t really placed it on the map1 before the recent successful crowd-funding campaign on the production of a related documentary by Personal Cinema. I was surprised to realize that the 14 villages offered Internet access today solely by the Sarantaporo.gr network are not in a especially remote area in Greece, but next to the Olympos mountain, half-way between Larissa and Thessaloniki (two of the biggest Greek cities).   Read more.

Sarantaporo Residents Create Commons in Rural Greece Through a DIY Wireless Mesh Network

sarantaporo

The story of Sarantaporo’s DIY wireless network is one worth telling and sharing. Filmmaking collective Personal Cinema is attempting to do just that. It is very close to successfully completing their crowdfunding campaign needed to finish their documentary about a mesh network deep in rural Greece. The film, Building Communities of Commons in Greece, aims to document the story of Sarantaporo and the concept of commoning through the autonomous wireless mesh network that the local community has installed in their mountainous village. I spoke to documentary director Ilias Marmaras recently to learn more about the self-organized network that has been in operation since 2010. Below is what I learned.  Go to the article.

An interview with Michael Hard on Common Wealth

Video: Drone shootings at Sarantaporo area in Greece for the upcoming documentary: “Building Communities of Commons in Greece”.

Fragment of an interview with Michael Hard on Common Wealth in June 2010 in Athens. ( Στα ελληνικά κάτω από την αγγλική εκδοχή).

I M:  Could we say that the multitude can learn to institute and manage a world of Common Wealth? Is that possible?

M H: We certainly think so! One of our hypothesis is that the Common will be the central terrain of political straggle for the next period. And by the Common we mean two separate domains that are nonetheless related. In the one sense, by the Common we mean the earth, the water, the forest, the air and ecosystems which traditionally would be considered in a way common or potentially common. On the other hand, we mean the human creations that we were talking about before: ideas, images, languages, affects; which of course can be privatised, but they’re in fact less productive when they’re privatised. For example when information, knowledge become private it becomes less productive. Part of our argument then, is that the capitalist production is evermore oriented towards the Common, and yet, that Common Wealth that is constantly being created is resistant to and reacts against private accumulation. So you can see that the conflict between the private and the common in both of these domains, let’s say the ecological domain and the biopolitical domain – if I can call it that-, and in both of them it seems, either the private (like the management of private property) or the public (meaning state control and regulation) in both domains seems inadequate or to have failed and that what’s required instead is a self-management of the common and an organisation that allows for that open access and shared quality. I think there’s almost a general recognition that there has to be another terrain of political organisation.

I M: Practically, how could that be achieved today? Could it be through a kind of desertion, of disobedience, related to the concept of Exodus that you and Toni Negri have talked about [in your books]?

M H: Yes, the concept of Exodus (as a metaphor) that derives from the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. It’s an interesting example of political violence because Moses and the Jews are not fighting the Pharaoh: they just want to leave. It’s the Pharaoh that attacks them. And so it seems that, in a way, violence is required in this kind of Exodus; this kind of subtraction from the current form of domination. Like, when people ask if revolution has to be violent. Well, if it’s up to us to answer, then that answer is no, but they won’t let us go. So, the example of Exodus is relevant for two reasons: one is that part of this process is the process of this subtraction, of fleeing. The second is the role of violence in it: that flight requires a certain kind of defense, and that often does involve violence.

I M: Practically, how can that be applied today? What does Exodus mean practically today? Could it be read as an Exodus from the institutions?

M H: Yes, absolutely. Exodus would mean finding ways of (not necessarily confronting or destroying) evacuating certain relationships. Like when we were talking about the family before, I would read a lot of practices which seem to be progressive and beneficial as a kind of flight from, an evacuation from, the family structures and that, often, can be very violent itself. But then, the construction of new institutions is something I would insist on. The image of exodus and evacuation and subtraction seems to me rather useful in this rather than what seems to me an older dominant image of the need to assault and destroy the current forms of power structures. So rather the dynamic of confrontation with the police, with the state, with the capitalist powers, rather than confrontation, evacuation -which can involve different kinds of practices- is possible and preferred, it seems to me. Rather than imagining the political straggles as being that confrontation with power, rather creative – it could be artistic but it could also be other political forms- things that might have to be defended by the police, but they don’t need that at the first moment. In this sense it’s partly that metaphor of exodus.

 

Η Μ: Είναι ικανό το πλήθος να μάθει τρόπους να θεσμοθετήσει και να διαχειρίστεί την κοινοπολιτεία (common wealth)?

 MH: Πιστεύω πως ναι. Μια από τις βασικές μας υποθέσεις είναι πως το δημόσιο θα αποτελέσει το επίκεντρο της πολιτικής πάλης για την επόμενη περίοδο. Και με τον όρο δημόσιο εννοούμε δύο διαφορετικούς τομείς οι οποίοι όμως συνδέονται. Ο ένας είναι ό,τι παραδοσιακά θεωρούμε κοινό, ή εν δυνάμει κοινό, όπως το νερό, τη γη ,τα οικοσυστήματα. Ο άλλος τομέας περιλαμβάνει τις ανθρώπινες δημιουργίες, ιδέες, εικόνες, γλώσσες και σχέσεις οι οποίες μπορούν φυσικά να ιδιωτικοποιηθούν αλλά τότε είναι λιγότερο αποδοτικές. Ένα απλό παράδειγμα είναι η πληροφορία ή η γνώση. Μέρος της επιχειρηματολογίας μας είναι πως η καπιταλιστική παραγωγή προσανατολίζεται όλο και περισσότερο προς το κοινό, όμως αυτός ο κοινός πλούτος που συνεχώς παράγεται αντιστέκεται και αντιδρά στην ιδιωτική συσσώρευση. Επομένως η αντιπαράθεση ανάμεσα στο ιδιωτικό -όπως η διαχείριση της ιδιωτικής περιουσίας- και στο δημόσιο –εννοώντας τον κρατικό έλεγχο- και στους δύο τομείς (τον οικολογικό και τον βιοπολιτικό) φαίνεται να είναι ανεπαρκής ή να έχει αποτύχει. Αντιθέτως αυτό που χρειάζεται είναι η αυτοδιαχείριση της κοινοπολιτείας και μια οργάνωση που να εξασφαλίζει ανοιχτή συμμετοχή και μοίρασμα των αξιών. Είναι ολοφάνερο πως υπάρχει μια καθολική αναγνώριση της ανάγκης να αλλάξει η βάση της πολιτικής οργάνωσης.

 Η Μ: Πώς μπορεί να γίνει σήμερα κάτι τέτοιο? Σχετίζεται με την ανυπακοή, την αποχώρηση, δηλαδή με την ιδέα που εσείς και ο Νέγκρι αποκαλείτε Έξοδο?

 Μ Χ_: Ναι η ιδέα της Εξόδου, σαν μεταφορά, που προέρχεται από την φυγή των Εβραίων από την Αίγυπτο είναι ένα καλό παράδειγμα για να περιγράψουμε την πολιτική βια. Γιατί ο Μωυσής και οι Εβραίοι δεν θέλουν να πολεμήσουν τον Φαραώ, θέλουν απλά να φύγουν. Ο Φαραώ τους επιτίθεται. Φαίνεται λοιπόν οτι η βία -αν και μη επιθυμητή- είναι αναπόφευκτη σ΄αυτό το είδος της Εξόδου, σε αυτή την αποχώρηση από την τότε μορφή κυριαρχίας. Οι άνθρωποι συχνά αναριωτιούνται αν η επανάσταση συνεπάγεται απαραίτητα βία. Ε λοιπόν, αν ήταν στο χέρι μας η απάντηση θα ήταν όχι, αλλά δεν θα μας αφήσουν ΄΄να φύγουμε΄΄. Το παράδειγμα της Εξόδου μου ταιριάζει για δύο λόγους. Ο ένας είναι πως περιλαμβάνει τη διαδικασία αποχώρησης και φυγής. Ο άλλος είναι ο ρόλος της βίας: αυτή η φυγή απαιτεί κάποια μορφή άμυνας που συχνά συμπεριλαμβάνει βία.

 Η Μ:  Πρακτικά πως μπορούμε να δούμε την Έξοδο σήμερα? Είναι μια Έξοδος από τους θεσμούς?

 Μ Χ:  Ναι απολύτως. Η Έξοδος θα απαιτούσε να βρούμε τρόπους -όχι απαραίτητα σύγκρουσης ή καταστροφής- εγκατάλειψης των καθορισμένων σχέσεων και θεσμών. Για παράδειγμα στην περίπτωση της οικογένειας που αναφέραμε νωρίτερα, θα μπορούσα να δω αρκετές χρήσιμες και επικοδομητικές πρακτικές για τη διαδικασία εκκένωσης των οικογενειακών δομών, αλλά και πάλι η διαδικασία από μόνη της μπορεί να είναι βίαιη. Ωστόσο η κατασκευή νέων θεσμών είναι κάτι στο οποίο, εγώ τουλάχιστον, θα επέμενα. Η εικόνα της Εξόδου και της αποχώρησης μου φαίνεται πιο χρήσιμη σ’ αυτό από την ως τώρα κυρίαρχη εικόνα της ανάγκης για επίθεση και καταστροφή των κατεστημένων δομών εξουσίας. Η αποχώρηση που περιλαμβάνει διάφορες πρακτικές είναι προτιμότερη από τη δυναμική της σύγκρουσης με την αστυνομία, το κράτος και τις καπιταλιστικές δομές. Πολιτικές αλλά και καλλιτεχνικές πρακτικές, που κάποιες φορές ίσως να αντιπαρατίθονται με την εξουσία αλλά χωρίς αυτό να συμβαίνει αναγκαστικά από την πρώτη στιγμή, είναι προτιμότερες. Αυτή είναι η μεταφορά της Εξόδου.

is crowdfunding charity?

The article below was published (in Greek) in the online magazine Hit&Run (here)

 

Crowdfunding is -according to Wikipedia- “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, today often performed via internet-mediated registries, but the concept can also be executed through mail-order subscriptions, benefit events, and other methods”. Both Crowdfunding and Peer to Peer (P2P) funding (though they differentiate in some ways), come under the generic term “alternative finance”, which describes finance that comes from sources alternative to the traditional places (banks and venture capital trusts, for example).

“The crowdfunding model is based on three types of actors: the project initiator who proposes the idea and/or project to be funded; individuals or groups who support the idea; and a moderating organization (the “platform”) that brings the parties together to launch the idea”. These new ways of obtaining finance are considered -especially from the institutional subsidizers- to be “disruptive” in the sense that they are disrupting (for the good) the funding market. They offer to that region and to those who need it a different range of options and, in many cases, funding they wouldn’t get from traditional sources. Furthermore, the variation in contribution options includes also participation in services such as translations, co-productions, dissemination and sharing the idea and the campaign for it, thus creating a sense of community and of “belonging”. Crowdfunding practices have, at times, been subjected to criticism, especially in cases of projects and ideas with movement characteristics, on the bases of displacing more engaged forms of activism. A critical approach that needs deeper analysis: one that would take into account contemporary dynamics concerning the “economy of the movements” and the general tendency of centralization of accumulation of capitals and of their distribution systems.

Crowdfunging, as a practice, first appeared early in the past decade in the USA, mostly as a tool to fund innovative ideas and backing venture models to address growth and humanitarian issues of the so called “third world”.
In 2013, according to data cited in Wikipedia, the crowdfunding “industry” raised over $5.1 billion worldwide. Given its genesis as a means of raising funds for concerts and art productions, many people think of crowdfunding as an inherently philanthropic act. But one of the more significant elements of these platforms is that, while they aggregate individual financial contributions, they also commingle different kinds of financial actions. What one person may see as a charitable donation to support a musical performance, another might assume is a ticket purchase. Because the sites offer incentives at different contribution sizes, and because many people pay less than the actual price of the item, it is unclear whether they are making a charitable contribution and getting a sticker or simply purchasing a sticker instead of a ticket. While tax deductibility may be a signal to some contributors that their money is “charitable,” others contribute simply because they want the event to happen or the record to get made, they’re just supporting the creation and public activity.

The confusion around crowdfunding, even in cases that concern assertion of social endeavors for the commons exists also in Greece in times of recession and of capital controls.

Personal Cinema team begun a crowdfunding campaign on October 17th, on the Spanish platform goteo.org, for the production and dissemination of a documentary film about Wireless Community Networks in the area of Sarantaporo and the 15 villages currently connected to the network.
Goteo.org is a community under the legal form of an NGO, based in Barcelona and aiming to act as a mediator and generate resources through crowdfunding as well as institutional actors -e.g. the European Cultural Foundation- for projects related to Commons (either digital or material).

They describe their presence in the internet as “a more ethical and collaborative Internet where citizens take an active role in improving and advancing their communities in economic, environmental, educational, political, social and/or cultural terms, through cooperative processes. A society where value is protected and the recognition of common goods, guarantors of fundamental rights is expanded. Our tools, such as Goteo, mobilize economic resources and human partnerships; contribute to community building; disseminate and create awareness and commitment around civic causes. They enable large scale collaboration among equals; establish connections and support among businesses, universities and citizens; and promote openness of information and knowledge to enable logics of transparency and cooperation instead opacity and competition.”

The documentary film “Building Communities of Commons” by the PC collective, engages in research, documentation and dissemination of the initiative to deploy the Sarantaporo Wireless Community Network, as well as in tracking the history of internet accessibility in an area of Greece that is considered remote and where access -if any- is difficult; something that bared grave consequences on local population. For example, non access to the internet made impossible for visiting rural doctors to make online prescriptions. The film also documents the efforts of locals to form productive and processing cooperatives based on the experiences drawn from building a community around the wireless network of sarantaporo.gr.

Obviously, it’s clear that both the Sarantaporo Wireless Network, as well as the film that documents the whole process, constitute social initiatives involving social groups in an effort to reconstruct their social fabric as well as develop tools to (re)enliven their productive economy. Initiatives based on self-organisation, collaboration and on funding by a crowd that shares these common values.
The implementation of capital controls in Greece is already a form of state of exception within the Finance framework. Until the beginnings of October, money transfer abroad via e-banking actions is prohibited, even though there are few exceptions. But in the partial lift of the controls for sums up to 500€ per month concerning electronic transnational banking transactions, crowdfunding remains an exception (or even, an exception to the exception). The reason being that it is labeled as “charity”, therefore it is -together with jewelry purchasing, online videogame subscriptions and online betting on foreign sites- blocked. In other words, raising funds by the many for social issues that concern them in Greece of capital controls, is considered a “matter of philanthropy” and the immediate and common use of credit or debit cards is blocked. Strangely enough though, the inter-mediation of the multinational online paying service Paypal is not blocked. Via this service, the prohibition is bypassed and the transaction is doable. But at the same time this implication negates equal access of the citizen to back and, in the end, to channel resources in the way he/she judges fitting, contributing in ideas he/she wishes to see realized in public. At the same time, it shows the limits of the modeling of online tools that act as mediators aiming to allow for the emergence of practices based on transparency.

To a possible further extent of the definition of crowdfunding the many, one could conclude that: philanthropic act is a shady act. But the question raised is: is crowdfunding charity?

Open Invitation to Participate at the 3rd CommonsFest 2015

Commonsfest_call

 

For English scroll down

Τριτο Φεστιβαλ των Κοινων. Commonsfest. Ανοιχτο καλεσμα συμμετοχης.

 

Η οργανωτική ομάδα του Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών, CommonsFest 2015, απευθύνει ανοικτό κάλεσμα σε πρόσωπα, κοινότητες και συλλογικότητες που δραστηριοποιούνται στην παραγωγή, διαχείριση και υπεράσπιση των Κοινών να συμμετάσχουν στο 3ο Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών που θα πραγματοποιηθεί από τις 15 έως τις 17 Μαίου 2015 στην Αθήνα.

Το Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών (CommonsFest) ξεκίνησε σαν πρωτοβουλία από το Ηράκλειο της Κρήτης και έχει ήδη στο ενεργητικό του δύο επιτυχημένες διοργανώσεις που προσέλκυσαν το ενδιαφέρον της διεθνούς κοινότητας των Κοινών. Η φιλοσοφία των κοινών, ευρύτατα διαδεδομένη στις κοινότητες του ελεύθερου λογισμικού και του ανοικτού σχεδιασμού, επεκτείνεται σήμερα με ταχύτητα σχεδόν σε όλες τις πτυχές της ανθρώπινης δραστηριότητας. Τα Κοινά, αποτελούν συστήματα διακυβέρνησης όλων αυτών που κληρονομήσαμε ή παράγουμε μαζί. Συνιστούν πρακτικά παραδείγματα συνεργασίας και συμμετοχής για τη διαχείριση διαφορετικών πόρων ώστε να καλύπτονται οι ανθρώπινες ανάγκες και το ευ ζην πέρα από το κράτος και την αγορά.

Το Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών δείχνει το δρόμο να δημιουργήσουμε τον κόσμο που θέλουμε μέσα στον κόσμο που θέλουμε να ξεπεράσουμε!

Στο 3ο Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών θα παρουσιαστούν οι πρακτικές, οι εμπειρίες και τα τεχνήματα κοινοτήτων και θα συζητηθεί η επέκταση των Κοινών σαν ένα βιώσιμο υπόδειγμα κάλυψης των ανθρώπινων αναγκών. Θα ανιχνευθούν οι συνέργειες και θα επιδιωχθεί η ενίσχυση της δικτύωσης της κοινής παραγωγής ανάμεσα στις κοινότητες, τα κοινωνικά κινήματα και τους αναδυόμενους φορείς της κοινωνικής οικονομίας στην κατεύθυνση ενδυνάμωσης των Κοινών. Ενδεικτικοί τομείς της θεματολογίας του φεστιβάλ των Κοινών είναι:

  • Ελεύθερο λογισμικό και ανοικτό υλικό
  • Κοινά γνώσης και πολιτισμού / Τέχνες
  • Αστικός δημόσιος χώρος
  • Τηλεπικοινωνίες – το ραδιόφασμα σαν Κοινό / – Κοινά τηλεπικοινωνιακά δίκτυα (βλ. Community Wireless/Fiber Networks)
  • Ενέργεια
  • Μετακίνηση και μεταφορές
  • Νερό, δάσος, γη, αιγιαλός, ατμόσφαιρα (Φυσικά Κοινά)
  • Βιοποικιλότητα
  • Γεωργία και εξασφάλιση τροφής
  • Εργασία
  • Το νόμισμα σαν Κοινό
  • Προσανατολισμένοι στα Κοινά συνεταιρισμοί και δομές αλληλέγγυας οικονομίας
  • Κοινωνικά κινήματα προσανατολισμένα στην δημιουργία και φροντίδα των Κοινών
  • Φυσική δομηση
  • Υγεία
  • Οικιακη οικονομια

Υποβολή προτάσεων συμμετοχής:
Οι ενδιαφερόμενοι να βοηθήσουν στην διοργάνωση ή να συμμετάσχουν με παρουσιάσεις, εργαστήρια, δρώμενα, καλλιτεχνικές δημιουργίες ή διοργάνωση προβολών, καλούνται να αποστείλουν τις προτάσεις τους συμπληρώνοντας τη φόρμα συμμετοχής.

Παρακαλούμε οι προτάσεις να υποβληθούν μέχρι τις 5 Μαρτίου επικαιροποίηση: επέκταση της προθεσμίας ως τις 20 Μαρτίου 2015.

Όποιοι επιθυμούν να συμμετέχουν πιο δραστήρια στις συζητήσεις γύρω από το φεστιβάλ και τα κοινά γενικότερα μπορούν να δημιουργήσουν λογαριασμό στο μέσο κοινωνικής δικτύωσης http://community.commoners.gr.

Επικοινωνία με την Οργανωτική Επιτροπή στο info.ath (στο) commonsfest (τελεία) info

 

Open Invitation to Participate at the 3rd CommonsFest 2015

 

The organisatory committee of CommonsFest 2015 addresses an open invitation to individuals, communities and collectives engaged in the production, management and defense of the commons to participate in the 3rd CommonsFest to be held in Athens, from May 15 to 17, 2015.

Born in Heraklion, Crete, CommonsFest already has to his credit two successful events that attracted the interest of the international community. The philosophy of the commons, which is widespread in the free software and open design communities, today rapidly expands in almost all aspects of human activity. Commons are governance systems of all those things we have co-inherited and/or produce together. They constitute practical examples of cooperation and participation for the management of divergent resources to meet our human needs and well-being beyond the state and market.

CommonsFest shows the way to create the world we want in the world we want to overcome!

In our 3rd CommonsFest a wealth of practices, experiences and artifacts of commons’ communities will be presented and the expansion of the commons will be discussed as a viable model of meeting human needs. We will jointly detect for synergies to strengthen the networking of joint projects between communities, social movements and emerging social economy actors towards the empowerment of the commons. The Festival will feature the following indicative areas of interest :

  • Free software and open hardware
  • Knowledge and cultural commons
  • Urban public space
  • Communications & radio spectrum as a commons
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Water, forests, land, beaches, air (natural commons)
  • Biodiversity
  • Agriculture and food production
  • Labour
  • Currency as a commons
  • Commons orientated cooperatives solidarity economy structures
  • Commons’ movements
  • Natural construction
  • Health

Proposals for participation :

All parties interested in helping to co-organize the Festival or participate with presentations, workshops, events, artistic creations or screenings, are invited to complete the participation form [1]. We kindly request for any proposals to be submitted until March 5th update: until March 20th, 2015.

Communication with the organizing Committee: info.ath (at) commonsfest (dot) info.

Update: 18/02/2015, 23:06
[1]: We have not yet decided wether we will accept presentations in English, due to technical reasons. We are working towards ensuring interpretation for the days of the festival, in order to be able to accommodate English-speaking presentations.