Thessaloniki is a major crossroads on the migration routes from East to West, and boasts a diverse population from across the world. In the context of the ongoing refugee situation resulting from wars across Asia and Africa, a group of the city’s residents (who originate from many different nations) have united to pool their skills to set up a centre where new arrivals and natives of the city together and share their art, dance, music, literature, poetry, language, and food with one another.
Thessaloniki, Makedonia, Greece
Democracy's challenge is dissociation and disenfranchisement. Our idea helps all benefit from their unique insights and talents; bridging gaps between them; helping them play an active role and showing how diversity unites them: combining their talents to strengthen their community and benefit all.
We will have helped the refugee and migrant community to have integrated with the local native and student populations, building a far greater, stronger, more flexible and multi-faceted community than exists today. This is the major challenge, and opportunity, facing Greece and the whole of Europe.
In our space painting, dance, video, literature, cooking, music, photography and other activities, will be coached and performed (including to the public) by people of diverse cultural origins. This is unique in Thessaloniki, which lacks such a space, and is facilitated by our experience working with people, including refugees and migrants, on similar projects. It is an innovative way to integrate the large number of people who have arrived here since 2015 with those who have been here longer.
We have worked with refugees and migrants in Thessaloniki for several years. Many of us are migrants. We know the 'newcomers' have much to offer, but while they are hidden or prevented from entering the wider community, their skills are lost. This must not happen for their sake, or that of Europe.
For the city as a whole: for Greek people, migrants and refugees. It succeeds because everyone is involved. It will help refugees and migrants integrate with the wider community, and help the community as a whole strengthen and become closer. It is for our city, which belongs to all who live in it.
We are open to ideas of all kinds and would be delighted to hear them. Perhaps those who have experience working on integration in Germany, Italy, France and Spain would be excellent. But we want to be active members of the wider Advocate Europe group, so all ideas from anyone are welcome.