Breaking down barriers to society’s creativity is Sotirios Stampoulis’ goal. His organization Peirama offers workshops and organizes many different kinds of events where people come together and exchange ideas to learn something new.
“Peirama”, Sotirios says, “means experiment. And that is the concept of our organization.” The 31-year old studied in the Netherlands and returned home to Thessaloniki in 2009. “I came back when the economic crisis in Greece started. Time will tell, if this was a good decision,” he says with a smile.
Taking matters in his own hands, Sotirios decided to help change his country’s fortune. “Creative workshops are one of the key features of our organization,” Sotirios says. “We want to help the people to learn new skills.” Many of these skills are very practical in nature. Knitting, clothes and soap making have been the most successful. “We teach the people ways to save money.” Considering the sharp rise of poverty and hardship in the country, the demand is huge.
Every participant has to pay a small amount of money for the workshops, because the organization does not have enough funding to offer them for free. “But the amount is not big and people usually get the money back very fast through the savings they make,” says Sotirios. “And we make exceptions for socially disadvantaged people, like illegal immigrants and Roma. They can take part for free.” The future of the project depends on the cooperation with the international community. Only if the financial support for Greece will be upheld, activities like this have a chance.
Another project Peirama is involved in are Exchange Bazars. Based on a barter system, people can exchange goods, without using money. For many people who lost their jobs, but who did not lose their abilities to produce something, a great chance. This way they can trade their products against other goods and services.
If the Exchange Bazars keep on being successful, Peirama wants to get involved in the organization of so called “time banks”. As in the Exchange Bazar, the core principles are simple. If you are a carpenter and repair your neighbor’s house, you get a certain amount of time credits. Next time your car brakes down you can exchange these credits for a free visit at the neighborhood’s car workshop.
“Time banks are spreading all over Greece. They also already exist in Thessaloniki and I think it is a great project that helps the people,” says Sotirios. “This is why we want to participate in it.”