Demolition of the Expropriated Buildings on the Site of the Ancient Theatre of Acharnes Commences
THE WILDFLOWERS OF NORTHERN EVIA: PLANNING AND SUPPORTING THE FOREST FESTIVALS
THE WILDFLOWERS OF NORTHERN EVIA: MOVING PARTICIPATION IN THE COLLECTIVE EFFORT FOR THE REGION’S REGENERATION
DIAZOMA Association 15th General Assembly in Kalamata and the Archaeological Site of Ancient Messene Successfully Completed
The Great Petros Themelis and the Wonder of Ancient Messene
On Saturday, July 1st, 2017 in the packed “amphitheater” of the American Community School in Ag. Paraskevi , the chairman of the “DIAZOMA” Association, Mr. Stavros Benos, was awarded the Honorary Doctorate of the Hellenic American University by the President, Mr. Phoevo Leonidas Kosko and the Board of Directors of the University.
This award, which was included in the 9th graduation ceremony of the University, is a special honor for both Mr. Stavros Benos personally, and for the “DIAZOMA” Association. Mr. Benos was honored for his general contribution to the local government (rehabilitation after the Kalamata earthquake), public administration (establishment of CAC- Citizens Assistance Centers) and culture (Citizens’ Movement “DIAZOMA”).
Mr. Stavros Benos, clearly touched, warmly thanked the President, Mr. Phoevo Leonidas Kosko, and the Board of Directors of Hellenic American University for their special honor. He spoke about the three stations of his public life: the great earthquake of Kalamata, the creation of CACs and of the journey of “DIAZOMA”. In closing, he addressed the graduates of the University, using Nikos Kazantzakis’ famous saying, “love responsibility. You should say, I, my only duty, is to save the earth. If it is not saved, I am to blame.”
The citation of the President of the Hellenic American Union Leonidas – Foivos Koskos to Mr. Stavros Benos
As the Mayor of Kalamata during the earthquakes of 1986, Stavros Benos restored the continuity of the social and economic life of the city and activated new cultural and social activities. He mobilized planners, architects, and people of art, the economy, and the citizens themselves. He successfully found the necessary funds for the restoration of the city’s infrastructure.
As Deputy Minister of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization, he designed and set up the Citizen Service Centers, which offer services for information and the issuing of certificates. He has relieved citizens of bureaucratic hassles in their contact with a state divided into captaincy. The CACs still remain as the modern intervention in the operation of the Greek Public Administration over the last 70 years.
As Founder and President of the Diazoma Association today, Mr. Benos mobilizes members of local societies to social, economic and spiritual actions aimed at sustainable growth. He places the focus on the redevelopment and re-operation of ancient theaters or other monuments of historical importance.
With these initiatives, he launches public and private funding, mobilizes subscription fund-raising campaigns and strengthens partnerships and social alliances. He builds the development process of specific areas with the launch of production, management and distribution of cultural products and services.
Business action and innovation, revolutionary by nature, set in motion for new business activities, new capital equipment, new products, and services, destroying or devaluing the past. A Schumpeter’s “creative destruction”.
Your personal story offers a different narration. A natural disaster, an earthquake, has mobilized creative forces led by you, a creator and a social leader. You have been the leader in the regeneration and renewal of the social and economic web of Kalamata. You taught with your actions and your personal example the importance of the human factor and culture in order to produce a substantial social or economic result.
You showed teamwork, the productive role of civil society, the need to bind the public and private sector, and effectiveness as an assessment measure. You excelled.
In the chaos of the Greek public administration, you counter proposed an extensive network of “giving” to the citizen. You excelled once again.
Twice a distinguished fighter, you had your position in the prominent seating of the auditorium, the Presidency. You chose to rush to the orchestra. You chose to be exposed, claiming your role as a machine leader. You inspire us. You invite viewers to take part. You excel, and with you, Diazoma excels as well.
We honor today a man of action, titled academic. Contradictory? Not at all. Your act is visionary. Incorporated are dreams and results. Your State till now summarizes everything our university has as a mission of achieving. Creating citizens of the world “… ready to contribute to the prosperity and well being of the communities where they live and work”.
By order of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic American University I give you the title of Honorary Doctor of Humanities.
Title Honorary Doctor of Humanities.
The speech of Mr. Stavros Benos
I was born in 1947 in the district of Agia Anna in Kalamata, amidst the aroma of a flowering orange tree, but also in the heart of the Civil War. My childhood memories, and soul, are full of beautiful images but with incidents of extreme divisions. I was elected Mayor suddenly and unexpectedly in 1978 with a great project of reconciling the beautiful and historic Kalamata. I sought the assistance of intellectuals for the development of ideas and suggestions for the future of the city. Two of the most important intellectuals of the country, composer Manos Hatzidakis and city planner Gregory Diamantopoulos, enthusiastically accepted my invitation. A holistic program of cultural and environmental upgrading of the city began to unfold and be implemented step by step. Thus, a great and valuable intellectual capital was born which helped me heal the profound wounds of the historic division of my city, but also to bring it to the current modern urban reconstruction status. My guide being my deep belief that “THE MAYOR IS AN ALLY ONLY WITH THE DREAMS OF HIS CITY”.
So, I was experienced and spiritually ready to deal with the “THREE RUINS” I met during my Public service.
1st CYCLE: THE LARGE EARTHQUAKE OF KALAMATA
13-15 September 1986 the large earthquake of Kalamata. Through the debris of the very first night of the earthquake, the NEW KALAMATA emerged within me. Through the ruins of the city during the very first hours after the earthquake the pictures of the future city sprang up inside me. We developed with Gregory and George Yennimata a visionary and holistic project of post-earthquake reconstruction. This project was focused on the citizens of the city and their needs, economic – social – cultural and housing, of course. The secret of success – only a single word: “SYNERGIES”. So, the focal point became the reconstruction project “FROM THE BUILDINGS TO HUMANS” and with synergy, KALAMATA won the most difficult battle of its modern history.
2ND CYCLE: THE CREATION OF C.A.C.
In 1998, as Deputy Minister of Public Administration, I met the second ruin: THE RUIN OF THE STATE. It is a painful experience to be confronted daily by a fragmented state, full of arrogance – prisons and clientele networks, the breeding ground of the modern monster of everyday life. POPULISM. The major problem of the Greek state is its discontinuous function, its authoritarian behavior, which often crushes the dignity of the citizens and stifles the country’s economy and development.
The greatest of all the complex problems of this pathogen is the ACCESSIBILITY for the citizens and the business world. The C.A.Cs, as a product of a long torture and redeeming experiential and intellectual process, respond to this very problem: They restore accessibility, in other words, “THE DEMOCRACY OF DAILY LIFE”. The most serious matter however, is that they operationally integrate with the state and from fragments of scattered structural ruins we move into the modern age of eGovernment.
3RD CYCLE: THE JOURNEY OF “DIAZOMA”
My placement by Prime Minister Mr. Simitis as Minister of Culture in 1996 was the best thing that could have happened to me in my Public Life. Very soon, however, I realized that the model of management and protection of the monuments of the country IS STATE, AND NOT PUBLIC. Our monuments are OF PUBLIC POSSESSION AND NOT OF STATE. There and then, the need to create a citizens’ movement for the UNIVERSAL PROTECTION OF MONUMENTS arose within me. In 2008, at the Acropolis Museum, “DIAZOMA” began its journey with the ambition to make the transition from STATE ARCHEOLOGY to PUBLIC ARCHEOLOGY.
Today, all of us, facing the THIRD RUIN OF THE MONUMENTS, through cultural synergies, are trying to become a catalyst between the public and the private sector for the accessibility of the monuments to civil society. In this way, we strive to bring the monuments, after an exemplary RESTORATION to the CENTER OF LIFE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.
My long journey under the public lights has taught me that the boundaries of the state are finite. The endlessness we only meet in the souls of people, synergies and through volunteering. As long as we feel that each of us is a piece of the state itself. I would like to end with a phrase, with a thought, that overwhelmed me when I was a teenager. The following excerpt from John F. Kennedy 20th January 1961 speech: “Ask yourself not what your homeland can do for you ask yourself what you can do for your homeland.”