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The Potato Movement: Greeks Helping Each Other in Hard Times (Video)

The Potato Movement: Greeks Helping Each Other in Hard Times (Video)

On Friday, March 30, European finance ministers are meeting to discuss increasing the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the rescue fund for nations that have needed bailouts on finding themselves unable to pay massive debts, all while their economies have imploded. Those countries include Spain, which is on a general strike about labor reforms today, Ireland, Portugal and Greece, where austerity measures have crippled an economy in its fifth year of recession.

This video (via When the Crisis Hits the Fan) satirizes how desperate Greeks have become to get a job.

With unemployment at 21 percent and salary and wage cuts rampant — many Greeks are making at least 30 percent less than they did before the economic crisis — 1 in 11 people in Athens has been standing in line at a soup kitchen, says the Guardian. Merchants are responding to the reality of customers with considerably less cash by lowering their prices and staying open 24 hours. The Greek daily Kathimerini reports that more than a few neighborhood shops and cafés in Athens have begun to charge one euro (about $1.32) or half or less a euro for coffee and tea and a hot dog. That may not sound like the hugest bargain but prices are more in the range of 3 or 4 euros (about $4 – 5.30) for a cup of coffee at other places.

To the north in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, people have been buying potatoes and other staples directly from farmers. This producer-to-consumer system has become so popular that it has spread across Greece, with farmers selling onions, rice, flour, olives and (so far) more than 4,000 Easter lambs. Indeed, town halls, says the Guardian, announce the sales and farmers, after learning how much people will buy, appear with 25-ton trucks. Christos Kamenides, professor of agricultural marketing at Thessaloniki University, says that such a “unified co-operative” will help to bring bring consumers and producers together and could eventually serve as an ecomomic model:

A couple of hours south, in the port of Volos, an alternative economic model is already up and running. More than 800 townsfolk have signed up for a local currency scheme called TEMs. Teachers, doctors, babysitters, a bookkeeper, farmers and smallholders, a decorator, hairdresser, seamstress and a lawyer are among the members. In the past couple of weeks Theodoros Mavridis, a local electrician, has not had to pay a euro for his eggs, tsipourou (the local brandy), fruit, olives, olive oil, jam, soap, and help in filling out his tax return.

The Guardian also describes the National Theatre of Northern Greece’s plans to offer a season of plays that will be paid for with food which will then to be distributed to charities and welfare groups in Thessaloniki. People in Athens have set up groups to offer free tutoring to help students including those with disabilities like dyslexia and to help distribute discarded bread from restaurants and bakeries to welfare groups.

As Maria Choupis, a founding member of the TEM in Volos, says, after intense outrage at politicians, Greek citizens are “moving beyond anger” and coming together.

Related Care2 Coverage

Over Half of Young Greek Workers Have No Job

Occupy Wall Street Shows Solidarity With Struggling Greeks

Over 60 Ancient Artifacts Stolen From Olympia in Greece

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Photo by sethoscope

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49 comments

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6:49AM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

Small IS beautiful, I tell you. Keep it local. Keep it real.

1:58PM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

good to know

10:03AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

If the world would do that......what a better place

5:56PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

People banding together to solve problems, that's the way to do it.

4:30PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

horrible

12:55PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

I am pleased to hear that they are pulling together .

12:15PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

When the times get tough the tough get going

12:06PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

THANKS FOR SHARING!

9:51AM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

Tristissimo.

9:08AM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

They have the right idea

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