ELLET - 45 Years, a big Thank You!

On Tuesday 30 May 2017, at the Choregic Monument of Lysicrates in the Plaka, Athens, ELLINIKI ETAIRIA - Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage - celebrated the 45th anniversary of our founding with a warm THANK YOU to the three pillars which have supported its action over all these years (sponsors, journalists and volunteers).

These moving celebrations were held symbolically at the Choregic Monument of Lysicrates (a sponsor of Athenian theatrical performances in the 4th c. B.C.) to remind us of the vital role that active citizens play in protecting the environment and our cultural heritage. As part of the celebrations ELLET invited us to take a journey through time and to remember the organisation’s vision and its series of struggles based on the belief that nature, cultural heritage and the environment together are what gives enduring values and quality to our lives.

The celebrations were attended by people who have been members of ELLET for many years, and who have determinedly and consistently supported its efforts, such as the Minister for Culture Lydia Koniordou, Professor Lila Marangou, who gave a presentation on the history of the monument, Professor Petros Themelis, who spoke about the importance of the institution of sponsorship in antiquity, Stephanos Manos, who as a Government Minister worked with ELLET to save the Plaka district in Athens, and many others.

"As a citizen of Greece, I feel deeply grateful for all this great work that has been done all these years ... ", Lydia Koniordou, Minister of Culture, said in her greeting and continued:" ... ELLET is perhaps the only organization which has linked our cultural heritage to the natural beauty of this land - these two very large attributes of this small part of the world.".

ELLET thanked all its dedicated supporters who stood beside it, at a cost to themselves, over the years. Donors such as: the AG Leventis Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, Fotini Livanou, Thanasis & Marina Martinos, the Fokion Potamianos family from California, Giorgos & Nadia Potamianos, Matrona Egon-Xyla, Nicholas Lemos, John Hadjipateras from America, the Themis Vokos family from London, Costas Gleoudis, Alexandra Mamaliga-Prokopiou and Stathis Potamitis.

ELLET also thanked the journalists: Nikos Vatopoulos, Vasiliki Grammatikogianni, Giorgos Lialios, Margarita Pournara, Louli Stavroyanni, Hara Tzanavara, Machi Tratsa, Katerina Christofilidou, Mary Adamopoulou, Matroni Dikaiakou, Maria Thermou and Isabella Zambetaki.

The awards were made, apart from the previous Presidents of ELLET, Costa Carras and Kostas Stamatopoulos, and the newly elected President of ELLET’s Thessaloniki Chapter, Cleopatra Theologidou, by the former Prime Minister and President of the Council of State, Panagiotis Pikrammenos, by Professor Aggelos Delivorias and by the Secretary General of Europa Nostra, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, who came from the Netherlands especially for the evening.

"The AG Leventis Foundation consistently supports ELLET’s work..." stated Tasos Leventis, President of the AG Leventis Foundation, in a specially video taped message, and he went on to hope that "... ELLET’s next 45 years will be just as fertile and creative!" Giorgos Agouridis, Member of the Board of Directors of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation thanked ELLET with a statement representing exceptional honour. "It is a great honour for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to be recognised by, and to receive an award from, the ELLINIKI ETAIRIA - Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage, possibly the most important non-profit organization that has been operating for so many years in Greece".

Finally, in perhaps the most emotional moment of the celebration, ELLET’s hundreds of volunteers from all over the country received an award in the persons of one of the oldest volunteers (who still has the heart of a teenager) – Dimitris Xaritos, the distinguished film critic and leading force behind ELLET’s annual Panorama of Ecological Films - and the youngest, Konstantinos Tsamados, a 16 year old pupil from Psari in Corinthia who works in a dairy and who, in in a disarmingly simple and humble statement, thanked ELLET for "helping him find the way into volunteer work."

ELLET President, Lydia Carras, also thanked important personalities who are no longer with us but who supported ELLET's struggle for many years: Lefteris Vogiatzis, Antonis Karkayiannis and Konstantinos Kalligas.

After the celebrations, ELLET’s offices which are close by at number 28 of the ancient Tripodon street, was - as always - open to everyone. Drinks were on offer in the courtyard and were accompanied by guitar music from Voula Didoni, an architect known for her restoration work in Oia, Santorini. This was a wonderful opportunity to discuss what has been accomplished and to plan what yet needs to be done through partnerships, volunteer work and common struggles.


With an Eye to the Future

45 years of action mean ELLET works for the long term. And we are already setting out our main areas for action in the years to come:
- an integrated approach to the environment and cultural heritage
- the promotion of an increased awareness of the implications of climate change
- a continuous and constructive dialogue with the state so that civil society can be an active and meaningful partner rather than organise protests after decisions have been announcement.
- an opening of further cooperation with bodies in Greece and abroad
- the protection of individual monuments and architectural sites
- an increase in the awareness of the value of public spaces and the need to protect them
- further cooperation with Greeks in the Greek Diaspora by establishing an organisation named “Friends of ELLINIKI ETAIRIA in the US” to be led by Fokion Potamianos, Olga Geroulanou-Voti, Yiannis Hatzipateras and Elena Koumantarou.

The founder and new president of ELLET (the first woman president of ELLET in its 45 years of operation) Lydia Carras summarizes, in just a few words, ELLET’s past struggle and its new goals:

“We are truly blessed to be shareholders in such a rich cultural heritage and in such a beautiful natural landscape. They are indeed of great value, not only to us, but also for other peoples.

They are our country’s treasures. If we respect them, our country will ensure a well-being that is truly sustainable.  

For 45 years ELLINIKI ETAIRIA has been fighting to protect and highlight these treasures. And this year we are celebrating by giving a warm thank you to the thousands of citizens from every corner of Greece – and the Greek diaspora –  who have offered their time, money and knowledge to bring this work to fruition.

45 Years of continuous effort: Our goal now in ELLINIKI ETAIRIA is to involve the younger generation so that they can enjoy and preserve our environment and our cultural heritage.

Let us all hope that all of us together in this little boat of ELLINIKI ETAIRIA, will continue to sail, and will continue to be selflessly devoted to the same ideals, for the benefit of this land which, as Elytis says, is both Small and Great ".
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