Financing grassroots social solidarity actions in Greece

From People to People: Collecting funds for social solidarity projects in Greece
The project
From People to People is an initiative of INTERDEMOS a group of 7 indviduals. From People to People aims at collecting a significant solidarity fund for Greece, demonstrating in a spectacular manner the  solidarity of European citizens and residents with Greece at a critical historical moment. We have two cross-supporting objectives: to finance grassroots social solidarity actions in Greece, while guaranteeing that their development will not be stopped by a financial strangling of Greece by its creditors; creating a positive political impact in the negotiations for the reduction of the burden of the debt by demonstrating that the peoples are more generous than governments who conduct policies for the benefit of rent-seekers.
 
Situation in Greece
Video produced by the Solidarity Clinic of Helleniko (in Athens)




Greece bore an outrageous human and social cost as a result of the policies that were forced upon it to manage a debt that eventually only worsened. You will find a detailed and frightening description of the situation in this recently published report from Solidarity4all. Follow a few figures that illustrate this: Unemployment increased by 274% since 2009, the average household income has dipped by 30% (and pensions by 45%), poverty has sky rocketed in this time but 505 Greek people hold 60 billion euros in 2013, an increase of 10 billion on the previous year. There is more, beyond employment and means of living : the health system was destroyed, education and culture have been deprived of vital resources, the number of suicides has increased by 43% in 4 years and the rate of mental breakdown has multiplied by 4, 600,000 to a million migrants which found solace in Greece are now living in increasingly dire conditions. Even though they are not subjected to Golden dawn's persecutions as often as they were since the organisation's leaders have been arrested, the recent events in the retention center of Amygdaleza are evidence of the terrible situation that migrants are facing in Greece. 
 
Figures will not replace testimonies. Hence the videos featured here – see above and below, subtitles are on the way – which were shot in December 2011 by anthropologist Ariane Zographos, as part of a Register of grievances, produced for Mediapart and the association Lucien Faber. Since then the economical and social situation has worsened still, yet hope has slowly risen in the last few months. We feel it is therefore our duty to do what we can so it doesn't subside.
 
Genesis of the project
We initially started designing separate projects before discovering that they could be brought together into a single one. As writers, researchers, teachers, documentary filmmakers and activists , we are all engaged into grassroots actions in the field of open education, cultural practices, shared innovation using commons schemes. We share a common vision of contributing to the human development and the democratic capabilities of each person.
 
A French-Greek partnership
Solidarity4all is the main structure financing and federating grassroot projects in Greece. Its funding arm, Support to the Solidarity Structures Fund, will receive the collected funds. We have fostered a relationship with them that will continue to grow as we set-up and deliver the projects. We must however remain modest as to the role Interdemos will play in the future even if we assume new members will join : we will aim to guaranty the selected projects are in accordance with the original enunciated aims and that they are adequately managed and will endeavour to suggest new directions through our numerous greek contacts. Find more below under Why fund it?
 
INTERDEMOS principal aim though will be to collect resources that Solidarity4All could not raise without a commitment from French civil society. 
 
Which projects will receive the funds ?
The collected funds will be integrally used for social solidarity actions in Greece (after the costs of collecting the funds have been deduced by KissKissBankBank). They will be transferred to Support to the Solidarity Structures Fund non-profit association collecting funds for solidarity actions in Greece. The distribution of the funds will be managed (in collaboration with us - the Interdemos group) by our Greek partner Solidarity4all. Solidatity4all federates grassroots initiatives in all domains of social solidarity: social restaurants, social groceries, private teaching courses for low-income children and adults, alternative cultural and entertainment spaces, legal counselling, support to migrants. Solidarity4all does not conduct directly these actions, but supports their development and scaling.

Since Solidarity4all was created in 2012, structures of solidarity have been multiplying fast in Greece. This explosion is due to the depth of the crisis as well as the citizens' resolve in facing up to it. Solidarity4all played a major part in accompanying such change in a context of increasing hope. The table below hints at the growth of the structures in 3 areas. Far from a complete view, it leaves out the multitude of initiatives in education, culture, housing, jurisdictional aid, insolvency and support to migrants. Still, in spite of this, needs are far from met and the geographical repartition remains unequal as the region of Athens benefits from better coverage.
 
 
The additional means offered by De peuple à peuple will be used to reinforce existing structures as well as to create new ones and explore development areas, two of which are explored as possible scenarios in the following section entitled “What will funds be used for?"
 
Which guarantees of good governance ?
We have inspected the social object defined in the status of Support to the Solidarity Structures Fund and found that the independent status that Solidarity4all enjoyed did guaranty that all funds were exclusively dedicated to the financing of social solidarity actions, excluding any financing of political parties, including for Syriza, though its elected MPs financed the fund with up to 20% of their pay.
 
The Support to the Solidarity Structures Fund is currently reviewing its board to avoid any conflict of interest, as several members have become members of the new governement. For instance, Theano Fotiou, its president, is nowAlternate Minister for Social Solidarity. We will let you know as the new board is being put in place, but all members of government have already ceased to participate to the decision-making process.
 
We were granted a guaranty of transparency for all financial in-and-out the fund, so that we are in a position of auditing that they are correctly atributed to Solidarity4all and the grassroot initiatives it supports.
 
Before any money is transferred, we will sign a convention with Solidarity4all to define the frame in which money shall be used (depending on the amounts collected and of the general situation of the country at that point) and the reports to be delivered as it gets spent.
 
Why fund it?
How will be the money be used ?

Up to the posted target
 
Our minimal target of €300,000 will be used over a period of two years to reinforce existing actions led by Solidarity4all, multiplying the number of structures it can support and enabling further development by extending its regional reach and opening new possibilities in areas that could not be considered.
 
Funded projects will be selected one at a time over a period of two years. None are predefined as Solidarity4all is dedicated to responding to grassroot initiatives helping them gaining strength and power.
 
Among the themes that have not yet been developed and yet could: Issues in relation to credit (people to people loans for which KissKissbankbank has a precious expertise), housing and elderly care are all critical. Health issues will remain at the forefront as the shattering of the Health system will have had long term cumulative effects, even if the new found hope will contribute to overcoming them.
 
If a true solidarity movement is initiated (and it now is down to you), it will be possible to collect a lot more than the stated objective. We have designed two scenarios that depend on the way the situation will evolve as major countries (Germany and France in particular), the ECB and the European Commission will react.
 
Scenario 1 : Unrelenting financial pressure on Greece
Even if it may seem absurd, we cannot at this time rule out the possibility that european states, the ECB and the european commission persist in financially suffocating Greece to break the democratic will of the people and to force it to leave the Euro and the European Union. It would be a historical tragedy and we hope that it will be avoided. But our sense of responsability would in that scenario only be strengthened.
 
I n such a scenario, the additional funds will carry on being used in areas supported by solidarity4all to an extended scale. It will be an organisational challenge, but it will also be a humanitarian emergency situation. Never forget that in their accountancy delirium, those who currently benefit the debt actually estimate it at 277 billion euros or € 30 000 per resident.
 
Scenario 2 : a breath of fresh air
In the only reasonable scenario, a significant part of the debt will be canceled and some adjustments will be found for the remaining part. Even then, a major reconstruction phase will start. The household debt is high too, partly because it was encouraged by previous policies and because it became necessary to survive.
 
In this scenario, we suggest that the first additional € 200,000 be used within the current perimeter, but include new actors that will be approached by Solidarity4all and identified by INTERDEMOS.
 
The next €300,000 (beyond the €500,000 mark) will be used to put in place new mechanisms of decentralised credits and other forms of action that will alleviate the burden of the debt for the most underpriviledged. It will endeavour to help them supporting themselves, regaining autonomy and free themselves from the age-old slavery of the debt once abolished by Solo in 594 before Christ at the time of the foundation of the Athenian democracy. (See our second counterparty). It would also be used to support collective thinking on what solidarity structures should become as the crisis fades away as well as initiating such necessary change. The argentinian structure, with its proliferation of experiences most of which disappeared as the crisis ended shows how necessary it is.
 
Lastly, if the fund should reach the 1 million mark, specific actions will be organised, using that share of €200,000 in education, cultural and artistic projects as well as efforts to enrich the democratic debate.
 
We would like to note that the more money will be collected the stronger the message the citizens of France and Europe will be sending through to governments, thus making it more likely that the second scenario actually wins. We will carry this message loud and clear on all digital and traditional media and will hope you are able to do the same.

Ph. Aigrain tells you why you should donate to the project in the videos that follow. For more information on the project see its presentation video (for English subtitles, click on "CC").

Media

  • Translated by: Iraklis Oikonomou
  • The original text was first published on: kisskissbankbank.com