Throughout Greece, many remote areas are suffering from lack of Internet connectivity, especially in the mountainous and island regions. This is considered a key contributing factor to driving young people from rural areas to the cities, in search of a more connected and overall better life. It also keeps people away from the villages, since our lives are becoming increasingly dependent on Internet connectivity, be it for reasons of work, entertainment or for staying in touch with friends and relatives. This widening gap affects the elderly who live in remote areas even more, as it is much harder for them to relocate in order to reap the benefits of modern technology.
One of Sarantaporo.gr’ Community Network’s primary goals since the beginning was to inspire and foster the development in other regions, of projects similar to ours. We thus try to distill and document our work, and transfer this encoded experience to other remote areas in Greece and abroad. One of these areas is Northern Tzoumerka municipality, in Epirus region, central Greece.
Epirus is a large mountainous area spanning from centre to north in the western part of the Greece mainland. The municipality of Tzoumerka lies in the southern part of that region. The high relief, combined with sparse habitation, makes it difficult and cost-inefficient for Telecoms to provide internet connectivity, leaving local communities very poorly if at all connected; a situation very similar to that in Sarantaporo area.
Last July we organized a two-day event in Sarantaporo which comprised ICT & Networking training for the locals and a discussion entitled: “Transferring experiences and technical know-how from Sarantaporo.gr Community Network to Northern Tzoumerka municipality, to assist in building their first community network”. A councilman from Northern Tzoumerka municipality was invited and participated in this event, along with members of P2PLab from Ioannina.
Since then we were looking to fund a three-day workshop in the region of Northern Tzoumerka, including the necessary equipment to provide Internet connectivity. During the workshop we intend to build a basic CN infrastructure in cooperation with locals and share with them the relevant knowledge. In addition, best practices for building a special interest community will be discussed. Through this we wish to empower the Tzoumerka team and help them get through the always challenging first steps, towards their long-term goal of bridging the digital divide in the area.
We are excited to announce that this project can now become a reality with the help of FundAction, which is funding us via its “Rethink” grant. In their blog you can read more about the process of the Rethink action. The very important aspect of this grant is the procedure by which it is awarded. Activists from all over Europe submit their proposals, engage in a fruitful interaction on these and finally vote to decide who will be the ones to receive the grant.
We wish to thank FundAction for making Sarantaporo.gr part of their community; we are honoured that so many changemakers from all over Europe have supported us in fulfilling our goal. We align with them in this spirit of solidarity, sharing and active participation to bring a positive change to our communities.