Eleusis 2021

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The EUnvironment theme is made up of 4 programmes, corresponding to significant areas of the relationship between contemporary humans and the environment. The “persephone” programme focuses on our relationship with urban green areas, gardens and flowers.

This programme is based on the myth of Persephone and the human geography of modern-day Eleusis. According to the myth, Hades abducts Persephone while she is picking flowers with her girlfriends. As her return to the world of the living coincides with the arrival of spring, the figure of Persephone is closely linked to flowering and the concept of euphoria. Contemporary Eleusis is characterized by low building sand neighborhoods that differ widely between them. This urban landscape influences the city’s social and political life. The neighborhoods of Eleusis are places of gathering and communication between the inhabitants, which allows the development of relationships of trust and solidarity. Most of the homes are detached single- or two-storey buildings, with small or large gardens and courtyards. Gardening could be considered as the primary relationship any human develops with beauty, art and culture.

Culture is initially expressed by our personal care for our immediate natural environment, our garden. It is expressed in the way in which we make our home prettier, our courtyard more appealing, our neighborhood and by extension our city, a nicer place to live in. Thus, at a secondary level, gardening is equivalent to the expression of a person’s civic participation in the life of the city, and their active contribution to the image and the quality of life in the city. Based on both the mythical background and the urban grid of the contemporary city, we are creating a network of gardens that both symbolize and drive the development of EUphoria, in the neighbourhoods of Eleusis. The neighbourhood inhabitants are actively involved in the landscaping and maintenance of the gardens, through workshops and gardening lessons.

Through the programme’s website, Eleusis residents can share their experience, good practices and gardening skills with other people from all over Europe. At the same time, the gardens function as neighbourhood “cultural centres”, by hosting small-scale events (music, performing arts, speech arts, visual arts, culinary arts) that allow us to experience the diversity of European culture in a friendly atmosphere, which encourages interpersonal contact and participation. Residents participate actively in the production of the events hosted in the gardens. Through this process, we aim to build relationships of trust, to reinforce a sense of solidarity, to enhance the cultural skills and the cultural capital of the residents, and to develop a new institution for the city: the “Neighbourhood Cultural Councils”, civil society organizations that will implement cultural planning at neighbourhood level.