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Working on the Future

September/October 2012 Issue

Volunteers have been organizing this free neighborhood lunch for the last few months, Vrassivanopoulou explains later over a glass of red wine. Vrassivanopoulou, a 60-year-old grandmother who works as a translator, has short, pitch-black hair; severe red glasses rest on her nose. “Whoever wants to contribute brings along something good to eat,” she says.

The initiative, which has drawn around 60 participants today, is intended to help the growing number of locals the crisis has thrown into poverty, but most of all to bring residents into contact with one another and strengthen solidarity.

Ten years ago, this monumental marketplace stood empty, until Vrassivanopoulou and several neighbors decided to occupy it in 2008. They transformed the building into a lively neighborhood center. “In the last three-and-a-half years, we’ve done more for the neighborhood than the local government has done in the last 20 years,” ­Vrassivanopoulou laughs. More than 200 immigrants receive weekly language lessons here. There are exhibitions, dance nights, film screenings, theatrical performances and an organic market. And, recently, a neighborhood lunch every Sunday has been launched. All these activities are free of charge; the center runs entirely on the efforts of volunteers.

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