Spring meeting 2014 in Thessaloniki: Kick start to Biketour 2014 planning

The Biketour Spring meeting took place from 13 to 16 March in Thessaloniki. We were hosted in a social center called Scholeio (http://sxoleio12.wordpress.com/), a former school which was squatted after being closed. The contacts to this place had been established by some people from biketour 2013 who continued from our endpoint in Cluj all the way to Thessaloniki. They held a presentation about ecotopia biketour there past November, so we were already known and quickly welcomed to hold the spring meeting in this lively place.


Some biketour feeling came up with collective cooking of delicious, vegan, predominantly organic, meals that we enjoyed in the yard in the first sunny spring days! Everyday, we made ourselves comfortable on cushions in an old classroom and got down to business of discussing the substance of the tour: when/how/where the tour will take place, how it will work and how this Biketour will be organised. Altogether, about fifteen people participated in some way, some of them had been on the biketour before thus bringing invaluable experiences.

New people with plans to join this year’s tour brought new perspectives to discussions which repeat themselves frequently and rejuvenated ideas of ethics which are constantly evolving in our everyday lives. It was also interesting to consider the viewpoint from different cultural contexts, such as the discussion about maintaining a vegan diet when the majority of activists in the countries through which we travel do not; something which will surely come up at points on the biketour. We had people from a nearby struggle against a gold mining project (http://soshalkidiki.wordpress.com/) there to tell us first hand about what is happening and their courageous resistance to it, inviting the biketour to come there.

many theme ideas

As well as getting to know each other, better, or for the first time in some cases, we proposed ideas of a concrete theme. This turned out to be easier said than done – there were too many good ideas! Broadly speaking, topics that covered Borders (for a second  year running!), Exploitation and Sovereignty came up [see photo below for all topic ideas]. The general feeling was that the focus should be one which is optimistic to go beyond government and corporate domination to show grassroots strength. And still, it was one idea to find themes within these broad categories to focus in on, such as overcoming the effects of the crisis in creative ways or fighting land expropriation by reclaiming sovereignty of land and food. We also talked about thinking of one general/involving theme useful for all ecotopia biketours. More than likely, the projects on the final route will predetermine the kind of topics the tour covers, but theme ideas and slogan suggestions are welcome.

Theme ideas grouped after discussion at spring meeting where will 2014 biketour go?

Another big topic was where ecotopia biketour 2014 will take place. The only thing certain was that we wanted it to go through Thessaloniki, where part of the coordination team is based, and to accept the invitation to go to Halkidiki fighting against the gold mine. Suggestions reached from as far as starting where we ended last year in Cluj, Romania to going down the Turkish coast until Izmir or probably cross to Lesvos, a Greek island which is an entry point into the EU for many migrants. From the outcomes of previous discussions to leave more time to engage with visited projects and the urging of former coordinators to keep the first proposals short since from experience it always gets longer, we excluded several of those proposals. Still, five proposals were the outcome in the end, with two possible starting points either in Montenegro/Albania or Sofia, Bulgaria and two possible end points either in Istanbul, Turkey or Athens, Greece. The fifth option is a circular one starting and ending in Thessaloniki. You can see them displayed graphically and also add your comments here https://wiki.ecotopiabiketour.net/Biketour_2014#Route_possibilites_from_spring_meeting_2014.

We left Scholeio feeling not only more prepared for the upcoming organising efforts but also having found friends and an extended home which helped us to settle in Thessaloniki. We have since participated in other activities there and organized a bicycle repair skillshare.

What is left to do is try to get even more people involved online and on the ground in the region – so let your thoughts be heard and If you want to help co-ordinate in any capacity and any place, then email team-2014[[a]]ecotopiabiketour.[[dot]]net

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