A pocket park is born

The Vardaris neighbourhood welcomes a new common space - participatory workshop

Empowerment, participation, co-responsibility and communal action are four key words for the collaboration between the Vardaris Neighbourhood Group of the Self-Help Promotion Programme of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Educational Platform for SSE // kalomathe.gr.

Following the publication of calendars, interactive alternative tours, each highlighting a different unseen side of Vardaris' history, and the organization of the first Vardaris Neighbourhood Celebration in October 2021, the Vardaris Neighbourhood Group initiated the process of co-constructing a pocket park in the area.

The design was carried out through three participatory design workshops and the implementation is being carried out by the Vardaris Neighbourhood Group, which includes members and staff of the Self-Help Promotion Programme, residents and friends of the area.

Although this action on 30 June is the inauguration of the pocket park, it does not inaugurate a finished project. Rather, it inaugurates a participatory process of co-constructing a common space for residents and people who work or commute through Vardaris. A space that will be (re)designed and co-constructed by the Vardaris Neighbourhood Group according to the rules and procedures set by the team itself, offering a small green island of meeting, resting and creativity by, with and for the neighbourhood itself!


Educational Platform for SSE // kalomathe.gr

The Educational Platform for the Social Solidarity Economy // kalomathe.gr is the brainchild of cooperation among individuals, collectives and institutions that support the development of the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) in Greece. The whole effort has been based on an open and participatory methodology both in its design and in implementation, involving an ever expanding network of individuals, collectives and institutions.

The aim of this association is to expand SSE via the strengthening of its existing cells. This is facilitated by both the creation, development and maintenance of a public space, in the form of a digital tool, for the promotion of education, transfer of know-how, as well as the exchange of experiences and good practices, and the provision of educational workshops and seminars from, with and for SSE initiatives.


Self Help Promotion Programme

Self-Help Promotion Programme of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki started its operation in 2001 in Thessaloniki, as an effort to find and implement alternative methodologies to support people with addiction problems and their relatives, based on the principles of self-help, mutual help and self-organization. The Self-Help Promotion Programme is run in cooperation with OKANA and is funded by the Ministry of Health. There are currently four Self-Help Promotion Programmes operating in the country, in Thessaloniki, Larissa, Chania and Sitia, which belong to the network of 'dry' programmes of OKANA.

These programmes are based on the critical approaches of the social and health sciences, which emphasise the link between socio-political and cultural conditions and the aggravation of various psychosocial problems, and which place directly concerned citizens and local communities at the centre of their interventions.


Vardaris Neighbourhood Group

The Vardaris Neighbourhood Group is made up of employees and members of the Self-Help Promotion Programme – people in the phase of rehabilitation and social integration, social scientists trainees and volunteers. This group has collaborated with various institutions and Social Solidarity Economy initiatives of Thessaloniki, groups from civil society and prominent intellectuals from the city.

“Vardaris Neighbourhood Group is a collective effort that encapsulates many of the basic precepts of the work in the Self-Help Promotion Programme: active participation of all those involved in the programmes, cooperation and collective action, creativity, the search for our common place regardless of our different backgrounds, the importance we attach to the culture and history of our place, our need to meet with the people of our neighbourhood and our place in creative ways, the ‘questioning’ of our neighbourhood and our place, the ‘questioning’ of our own history, and the ‘questioning’ of our own culture”.

The objectives of the group are:

  • The familiarization of the members of the project with the history of Thessaloniki and in particular the Vardaris area;
  • The acquaintance and cooperation with citizens and groups of the city that are active at the neighbourhood level;
  • The mapping of neighbourhood’s needs and the development of small-scale interventions in cooperation with local residents;
  • The removal of prejudices and stereotypes about people with addiction problems.



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Vardaris’ Pocket park (5 Afroditis st. & Odysseos st.)

11:30 – 13:00 

React! Ideas in motion - 30 June 2022