The simple answer to why green why now is because I love Europe.
The longer answer involves how this love of Europe grew, funnily enough on the very opposite side of the world.
I was born and raised in Australia, and studied in Europe (I went to school there and finished high school and then went to the UK) for university.
My parents who are Greek invested time, energy, and resources in introducing everything and anything to do with European culture to me and my sister from the day we were born.
My mother’s father, Lefteri, lived through the Minor Asian ejection of Greeks; my infant grandfather at the time was carried in his mother’s arms from near Smyrna to Lesvos. He then lived through the civil war and a world war where he served in the military.
My grandmother, Joanna, had to work from a young age to feed her family as her brothers went off to the civil war and a world war.
This pair turned into the gun ho hairdressing couple that became my mum’s parents. They were hairdressers in Larissa and the talk of the town with their salon ‘Oscar’. A grown- up Grandpa Lefteri went and studied hairdressing in Paris, and Vienna and represented Greece in Milanese hair shows.
My father’s parents are both from a small village in Trikala. They ran the only shop and had their own rural farm of circular production within a couple of hectares around their house.
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When I look back at my luck in spending summers and winters in that little village I think of the bread that was constantly rising on a corner bench near my grandma’s sink, the olive oil she drizzled on that bread grown in a nearby field, and the filo for her pita being rolled out in the kitchen that always had a little stove burning. The vegetable garden was as big as half a basketball field, the laying out of tiny Greek traditional pasta balls would be on a white tablecloth on a long table in the garden, sundried to perfection. There was the cow, a few goats, the turkeys, the chickens, and then the fields in their agricultural neighbourhood.
They ran the village’s shop which served as cafe/bar/gaming house (backgammon and cards) the first TV, first phone and post box of the village as well as the resident violin playing entertainment (also my grandfather, Vassili), the only bus stop and the woebegone telegram. Stop.
In more recent years history repeated itself and at the peak of the refugee crisis this personal history seemed more poignant somehow when more than 950,000 refugees crossed to Lesvos by December 2015; this time from Syria.
The past decade has seen wars, crises,politics, and economic crises fuel the very things that are inconsistent with the norms my grandparents grew up with and that I grew up with. What now prevails is a rhetoric of hate, violence, a lack of respect for humanity and the earth in ways that seem only unconscionable to me.
When I am in to Athens or other parts of Greece I see rows and rows of roof top terraces covered in water heating machines that are not however solar panels covering the entire surface of the roof which could be producing more than the energy necessary for an apartment building. This in one of the world’s sunniest places, I see petrol-powered water tanks. Ideally If the panels were mixed in with plants on those terraces, it could bring down the heat of the buildings and the city itself by 2-3 degrees a survey by prasinoi.gr has found.
There is green but when the hot summer weather arrives there are dry trees that burn and at the same time there is an increase in rainfall that is unprecedented.
Fishermen in Crete lament the change of the climate and the waters uprising, with land being lost on their island.
According to the Sustainable Governance Indicators Greece since has not made any significant strategy or changes into its environmental laws in order to mitigate climate emergencies and much needed sustainable agriculture and green spaces in tune with the cities and nature. The European Commission has a long list of fines against Greece where disposing of waste is concerned also as the system in place remains inadequate and outdated with part landfills. Lignite is still used in energy production!
The tried and tested political system thus far has failed to move quickly to meet our new challenges – and it’s not a if they didn’t have plenty of warning!
Being lucky enough to have three homes in the world Greece, Australia and Belgium in Brussels there was no question that the response to rising pollution, chronic traffic levels and a violent slur on refugees coming from corners of the political spectrum that bled into the mainstream meant the choice was only greens.
In Australia, where both political parties support one of their largest industries, coal, to the point that it is a a detriment to the environment, their pollution levels and the iconic and protected Great Barrier Reef has almost totally died and couple that with a stance on asylum seekers which stomps on the human rights the only party looking at a holistic sustainable future have been the greens.
That is why back in December I knew that this time it was different, the rise of the far right in Europe and Nazism which my grandfather lived through in occupied parts of Greece were abhorrent, the past two terms of the European Commission also being heavily politicised in a Centre Right spiral of business first, gender inequality especially at high level president roles and within the decision making process being invisible to say the least, for too long.
If ever there was a time to stand up and say I need to do better and how I can I help? This was the time.
In a nutshell, this is why it’s green, and this is why it’s now.
Happy voting to all! #vote #EUElections