Turn that frown, upside down

Has the Trump-Hillary debate got you worried about the state of humanity? Has it come down to a punch and Judy showdown over the fate of the human soul? Well, forget America. If Obama and Bernie can’t fix it, it’s time to change the conversation and the focus. To this: what if humanity strove for the wise, the good, the beautiful?

What if we could start from scratch and build a society centred around the love of beauty, wisdom and imagination? Sound lofty? Well, newsflash— that’s exactly what’s taking shape in Greece.

Like, duh

“You are what you share”

That’s what a very clever and wise woman, Benita Matofska, a world leader in the sharing economy space and founder of The People Who Share, told me recently before she proceeded to offer me more help than I could ever have hoped for. I was moved by how she lives her sharing economy ethos, which fundamentally is about putting people and planet first. A belief I espouse too with Oi Polloi. What is it? At its core, a socioeconomic movement reimagining how society operates. But that’s a little dry, don’t you think? The soul of Oi Polloi is best expressed by Shelley, the 19th century English poet:

“We are all Greeks… The human form and the human mind attained to a perfection in Greece.”

I believe we are more than capable of that type of perfection today. We just have to give a damn — and then give it our best shot.

Where to begin?

Greece. Come to Greece. See for yourself how the nascent sharing economy is burgeoning, born out of necessity — and with kindness at its core. The financial crisis means consumerism and capitalism have broken down. Life is about living again. Not shopping. Meanwhile, the humanitarian, refugee crisis has brought out the best in people. You only need to look as far as the islanders of Lesvos, nominated for the Nobel Peace prize, to understand how big-hearted Greeks are.

And so the sharing economy, as an alternative socioeconomic system, is already taking hold. Sure, it’s crude and emerging in pockets. But that’s where Oi Polloi comes in.

The many, acting as one

“Give me leverage, a place to stand, and I will move the whole earth.” Archimedes, c. 250 BC

You already speak Greek: Oi Polloi, besides meaning ‘the common folk’ or the ‘riff-raff’ in English, also means ‘the many’ in Greek. (Photo by Mary Valiakas)

I am standing in my home — Greece. I am moved by my home’s suffering. By the granny who is begging in an out-of-the-way place, presumably so she won’t be seen — and who is so ashamed of begging she can’t look me in the eye when I give her money. I am moved by every destitute soul I meet, and every story I hear of the struggle for daily essentials. I am heart-broken by the collective dignity that’s been sold down the river. And I am humbled that these are the same people doing everything in their power to help refugees with their plight.

Hawaii is also my home. When it comes to America, I am moved by Bernie’s fight, I am frightened by Trump’s rise, and I am saddened at every piece of devastating gun-related news that comes out of that country.

And home is also the UK. I live in the southwest of England, in a beautiful medieval town. The sort of place where you understand how this culture could give rise to words like ‘higgledy-piggledy’. Here, I am galvanised by the injustice of an unelected leader proclaim something many didn’t vote for, and didn’t understand (Brexit), as utter certainty. And I am perplexed by May’s divisive talk, when she says, “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.” Sorry, but last time I checked we only had one earth to live on. Personally, I prefer Socrates’ approach:

That’s more like it

So, how do we move the whole earth?

Together, that’s how. By sharing our human, physical and intellectual resources. Because as Cindy Gallop, advertising consultant and entrepreneur, said:

“The single largest pool of untapped resources in this world is human good intentions that are never translated into actions.”

Oi Polloi aims to pour all our good intentions — mine, yours, and whoever else is up for changing things for the better — into actions. What would that achieve? *Squeals with excitement*

Some things are worth getting jiggy for

Sounds idealistic? Think again. It’s optimistic. If your heart doesn’t break at the state of humanity and the world today, then stop reading now. This is for the dreamers and do-gooders looking for a direction in which to apply themselves — and make a difference in the world. Because even though the dreamers and do-gooders didn’t get us into this mess, we are the ones with the drive and belief to get us out of it.

“Those who were seen dancing were called insane by those who could not hear the music.” Nietzsche

Why Greece?

Why not the US, or England? Well, I grew up in Greece. It’s my original home. With capitalism and consumerism in shambles, people are open to new solutions — so this endeavour to rethink how society operates, and what it aims for, could actually work. Plus, the world needs some soul balm after the horrendous summer we’ve had, with Philando Castile, Orlando, a coup in Turkey, Nice, Brexit, the rise of Trump…

The world needs to believe that there is still goodness and hope on the planet. What better place to offer this balm than Greece, the land that gave birth to western civilisation as we know it?

“To a wise man, the whole earth is open. For the native land of a good soul is the whole earth.” Democritus, c. 400 BC

So, say goodbye to the Greece of reckless, live-for-today Zorba. And get ready for a Greece rising from the ruins, where common sense humanity and doing the right thing are the order of the day. Where digital transformation, innovation, the sharing economy, the arts and philosophy coalesce to turn Greece into a beacon of civilisation. No biggie. Especially if you all join in.

According to Homeric legend, Palamidis of Nafplio, Greece, invented the first lighthouse. (Photo by Mary Valiakas)


Lots of exciting initiatives are in store: Skills and knowledge exchange app, artist and musician residencies designed to turn Athens into the new Berlin, (ie THE destination for digital and analog nomads), following which we’re planning Burning Man style events to exhibit the art, Hellenic-Arab intercultural awareness dance festivals, facilitating the setup of an ecosystem in which innovation can thrive, Bring Philosophy Home initiative designed to help us contemplate what it means to be human in the 21st century — and much, much more.

So park your cynicism, kiss your pessimism goodbye, and like our page on Facebook. New website to come soon.

What’s up with ALL of that?




Mary V is currently rebooting Greece: www.oipolloi.io | She’s on a mission to make solidarity sexy: terraform.world | She advocates user-centred policy design

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Mary Valiakas

Mary Valiakas

Mary V is currently rebooting Greece: www.oipolloi.io | She’s on a mission to make solidarity sexy: terraform.world | She advocates user-centred policy design

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