How it started
The SCE Apano Meria was created in 2015 through an open assembly of Syros citizens, which recognized the need to prevent excessive touristic development through the encouragement of mild activities, especially in the protected areas of the island (Natura 2000).It was officially founded in 2017, in order to promote, protect and preserve the northern part of the island (Apano Meria) and until today it supports the actions of the Municipality for the promotion of geotourism. From 2020 we work to support the sustainable activities of the local population, such as primary production and the development of forms of tourism that respect the land and its inhabitants (e.g. hiking, environmental, geological, archaeological, rural tourism, climbing or diving, etc.).
What we do
Τo date, the SCE has managed to mobilise and inform dozens of citizens about the issues of the protected area and the geological importance of Syros through a multitude of events, workshops and meetings. In 2018, it conducted a study on the ownership of three paths at Apano Meria in Syros, which was donated to the Municipality of Syros – Ermoupolis to be used in the implementation of the project for the creation of a Geological Exhibit and a geopaths application. At the same time, every year the SCE holds cultural events (concerts, exhibitions, etc.) and environmental protection activities (clean-ups, trainings, seminars) in Apano Meria and the rest of the island. Also, in 2020 our e-shop, where one can find products that promote Ano Meria, products of solidarity economy, such as those of VIOME, and many more, was launched.
Juniperus Research Base
Recently, Syros has been seeing an ever-increasing touristic development, with visitors flooding the island during the summer months. The idea that tourism is a mass product exclusively for leisure and holidays is just another commodity to be consumed is diametrically opposed to the principles advocated by the SCE Apano Meria. Therefore, seeking to act as a living counter-example of good tourist practices, we created the Juniperus project, a research and volunteering project. Its aim is to offer young scientists – quality visitors (rather than mass tourists)- the opportunity to study Syros’ distinct ecosystem, as well as its unique geology, and to contribute to generating social and environmental impact. Our volunteer projects encourage a kind of visitor who interacts with awareness, who actively and positively influences the local community and allows a dynamic exchange between the island and themselves, since by the time they leave, they will have left behind their labour for the benefit of the island that hosted them.
Through our vision for a vibrant and creative community, with people who want to bring innovation, collaboration and sustainability to Syros, the first co-working space on the island was born. We created a space where our employees, digital nomads, co-workers, researchers and volunteers can join and, why not, inspire, be inspired and co-create.
Precious Plastic Lab
Recognising the magnitude of the plastic pollution problem, the global open design project “Precious Plastic” is a combination of people, machines, platforms and knowledge that aims to create an alternative, non-industrial, low-cost global recycling system. Recognising the importance of taking action at the local level and inspired by the Precious Plastic philosophy, in 2019, the SCE Apano Meria, with the help of the Cyclades Reservation Fund, wanted to become part of this global community and created a small-scale, portable plastics recycling and reuse workshop. The machinery was housed in the Vardakeios School of Ermoupoli and the academic community of the University of the Aegean has embraced the lab, using it for research and experimentation while two honours degree dissertations have already been written as a result of the lab. Today, we are in the process of transferring the lab to the SCE’s Research Base where we intend to host future workshops on object creation and educational events.
Our SCE has created internship positions for students from the Department of Product and Systems Design Engineering of the University of the Aegean with the focus of this internship being service design and experience design. Specifically, 2 interns in direct collaboration with the members of the SCE are designing a prototype for the creation of interactive tours in Apano Meria of Syros in a way that highlights the natural, geological and historical richness of the area while, at the same time, offering a high quality product to the visitor. At the same time, 2 more interns have undertaken the task of “setting up” the Precious Plastic workshop as well as exploring the needs of the residents in order to implement recycling programs that are specific, targeted and based on the needs and potential of the island.
With a desire for extroversion, education and socialisation, environmental camps are organised throughout the year in the countryside of Apano Meria. The program, depending on the season and duration of the camp, includes talks, discussions, workshops, nature activities, tours, excursions and much more. Our aim with these activities is to bring closer to nature and each other, to educate and inform people interested in environmental protection and sustainability.