After almost a year in the project and a full pandemic running we were able to realize our very first transnational meeting on Rhodes / Greece. The running order of transnational meetings had to be changed due to many changes the pandemic foced the project to do. Anyway, in September 2021 were we able to meet after many online meetings in real life.
The programme our local partner, the House of Europe on Rhodes, organized and offered the project group a programme with broad variety on green initatives in rural areas in Greece.
Our first transnational meeting brought us to Rhodes the home of our Greek partner. After a year of pandemic and a combination of local and digital activities in the project we were finally able to meet in person to bring content together, to exchange, share and develop. We were very happy to bring together a fully vaccinated group of participants who all were connected to the project at local level in the participating countries. It was not a problem to incorporate people even though still in pandemic times into the project which is why we could realize this meeting with the full number of participants that we applied for.
The meeting itself was dedicated to two main pillars. In the first pillar we aimed for deeper cooperation in our partnership in face-to-face mode. Here as said we got to know each other better, we included new people in the project who have worked locally and did not meet online so far. We shared our experiences of what happened back in all our partner countries and what we discovered, where we found hurdles and where we need to get better. Also, future plans for local activities were presented and discussed. In the second pillar the focus moved to our Greek partner as they provided a colorful programme to show what Green initiatives in rural areas the island of Rhodes has to offer, what is initiated and where they still lack good ideas, infrastructure and commitment.
The programme was a good mixture of meeting local green initiatives who presented projects that are run on Rhodes. Just for short impression: the pioneering project “ANKA” to produce an Energy Cooperative of Karditsa, the Social Enterprise “AegeanEcoPlastics” that collect plastic bottle for recycling or “Cityplanning” for emobility and smart technologies to tackle chronic problems of the monument of the medieval world heritage city center. Next to these projects the group was also able to visit projects on spot. Here the group e.g. saw Kaminari Village, A private investment, a Village with various stages of traditional agricultural practices, including bread making, weaving, woodcarving, etc. inspired by local tradition aiming to heritage and environmental awareness, the LAMAR fish farm as a safe haven for the marine life of the region and sustainable example for fishery, the remote island of Chalki and its efforts that will transform the island to a GR-ECO island, an island that produces independently its needed power, by a soon to start operating solar park, wholly funded by the EU, while Citroen has adopted the island in order to make it a carbon-fuel-free island, subsidizing electric vehicles. Furthermore, the participants learned by the efforts to implement and establish a recycling system on the source, with most of the inhabitants and local businesses already participating and the efforts to maintain the school operating and attracting families to relocate on the island. The evenings and times in between were used to wrap things up and to discuss impressions in the connection to our topic of the strategic partnership. All in all, a very coherent programme that allowed new impression, exchange and sharing, building up the group and setting more milestones for the future of the project.
The meeting showed how important it is to meet in person. All the online collaboration is important and could save the project from failure in pandemic times. But in the end a meeting in presence unleashes many more aspects in European learning. We all agreed that the project needs the transnational meetings, Rhodes 2021 has proofed this for sure. All the discussions, debates and exchange that happen during such a meeting as well as the live experiences are highly enriching for the participants and therefore also for the project itself. The meeting supported the still good atmosphere in the partnership after the long kick-off period that we had to face due to the pandemic. But the face-to-face-event surely intensified motivation and identification with the project, especially to those who are not in the steering committee. After all, we implemented with the meeting in Greece especially what we aimed for and what we set as goals for all transnational meeting from the very beginning. The two-pillar-strategy of delving deep into our project topic and experience the local dimension for shared best-practices, joint learning and sensitization to a broader understanding of green initiatives in the European dimension as well as growing of the learning group and the project partnership including quality cooperation in a European-wide setting is still a good and sustainable approach for a successful strategic partnership.
See here our full video coverage of the 1st transnational project meeting in Greece – https://youtu.be/V1r5XXIoSKk?si=rMKhMOAkH65F5grZ