Monday, 28 April 2014

The Dimitra Project
To build a sustainable, self sufficient, ecologically sound community and cultural centre on the island of Naxos in the Cyclades, Greece. To make a positive contribution to the wider community of Naxos. To grow, to evolve and to give back, to the land and to the community of Naxos.
We are looking for 200 to 300 supporters who are prepared to give some of their time and invest a small amount of capital in the project.
If you cannot get involved yourself, please support us by passing this message on to as many people as you can (even if they are not interested, they may know someone who is).
Please scroll down for more information.

Photograph© Isabel Theron 2013

The Temple of Dimitra or Demeter, Naxos c. 700 BC

Dimitra (or Demeter) is the Greek goddess of fertility.Her temple on the island of Naxos was the first to be built completely of marble including roof beams and tiles. She is very beautiful.

Design Principles for the Dimitra project
  1. Off the grid; rainwater capture and conservation (Naxos receives as much rainfall annually as East Anglia in the UK); photo voltaic generators; possibly wind turbines; possibly Peldon wheel water turbines; composting toilets; grey water capture and reed bed filtration; wood fueled stoves and cooker – grow enough biomass on site to provide own fuel.
  2. Straw bale, local stone (marble, limestone, emery) minimal use of concrete other than that required by authorities to make building earthquake proof. Straw bales provide good thermal insulation for both hot and cold weather (it snows on Naxos in the winter). Natural ventilation systems (NO air conditioning)
  3. No WIFI or mobiles except for emergencies
  4. Grow own food.
  5. Permanent community of 1 – 5 bodies.
  6. Accommodation for up to 20 guests.
  7. Courses – sculpting Naxos marble, painting, poetry and writing, guided walks on Naxos, drama, eco-building and sustainable horticulture, photography, sailing, wind and kite surfing, cycling, horse riding – use local talent as much as possible.
  8. Retreats – silent, guided, meditative, yoga, Zen.
  9. A chapel / meditation space.
Click here to email Dimitra

  1. Find and purchase site (4 in prospect) – large enough and appropriately located, with access, existing buildings (ruins for preference) and water supply.
  2. Build single room and cistern, composting loo(s), site access, install stoves.
  3. Plant / restore orchards and vegetable patch.
  4. First water capture channel at top of the site, feeding the main cistern (which will also take water off the roof).
  5. Install photovoltaic generators and electric water pumps
  6. Extend house – on going.
  7. Build second cistern at base of site to receive reed bed filtration system run off for grey water plus rainwater run off from rest of site.
  8. Extend water capture system – channels and cisterns. Rebuild / repair terrace walls. Complete buildings (accommodation for 20 guests, loos, chapel, course / classroom building).
Raise enough capital to buy site and complete phases 1 to 4 above (€60-70,000). We will be putting all our available capital into Dimitra and expect to do all or most of the work in phases 1 to 4 ourselves i.e. at no charge to Dimitra (other than our subsistence costs and the cost of materials etc). Photovoltaics and other work requiring particular expertise will be sub-contracted, if necessary – ideally we will be able to recruit experts as members or temporary volunteers.
Further fund raising and guest / course revenue will be used to fund phases 5 – 8 and whatever follows.
We intend to sell shares in Dimitra at say €200 each, to raise the capital needed. Shares can be purchased by a group (we are well aware that young people would find it hard to raise €200 and we want the demographic of the community to be as varied as possible). Each share would entitle the owner to a certain number of free days in the community per year i.e. for accommodation and food. Everyone, whether staying for free or paying to stay (daily rate to be decided – may be covered in whole or part by additional work on the site), will be expected to make a contribution to the daily life of the community, in any way that they can e.g. helping with building projects, gardening, administration, perhaps running a course). We would also like to able to offer bursaries for young people, especially from Naxos itself.
The Dimitra Trust will be incorporated in Greece as a not for profit charitable trust, with a guiding board selected by the share holders. In addition it will of course have an auditor / accountant and a lawyer, publish quarterly progress reports and audited annual accounts.
Dimitra has a website, its own email address, and a Facebook page, to communicate with supporters and shareholders and to promote Dimitra and its courses and other activities to the wider world.
Permanent occupants should own at least one share and help to pay for their food and accommodation with work, money or goods and services in kind (e.g. photovoltaic, electrical, mechanical, building or horticultural skills).
Guests (excluding their free entitlement) will have to pay a certain amount each per day and help out, and pay course fees where applicable. Course charges will be transparent and kept to the lowest practicable level (i.e. to cover direct costs, plus a small contribution to Dimitra). This is another reason for using local artists and other talent to run the courses whenever possible. Course places will be open to people staying elsewhere on Naxos.
Send no money now! When Dimitra has been incorporated and has its own bank account we will be in touch again. In the meantime, if you would like to support us and participate please let us know how many shares you potentially would be prepared to subscribe for.
All of the above are only suggestions – i.e. all interested potential shareholders will agree how Dimitra is set up, financed, controlled, and its rules and constitution.
Click here to email Dimitra
Something about Naxos
Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, in the Aegean. It is approximately 50 kilometres north to south and east to west although actual road distances can be considerably more as it is very mountainous. It has the highest mountains in the Cyclades and gets snow and frost most years. Thanks to natural springs parts of the island are heavily wooded and, by Aegean standards, very lush.
It feeds itself, producing 4 crops of potatoes a year (it supplies most of Greece). Many family tavernas only sell their own produce, including meat, wine and cheese. Rich culture going back 7,000 years. Dimitra's temple was built in 600BC. There is an ancient aqueduct (actually a ceramic pipe) that was built at the same time that brought fresh spring water to Naxos city from springs at Flerio, 12 kilometers away. Parts of the pipe can still be seen, following the contours down from the hills.
The old city of Naxos is a warren of tiny streets and delightful little shops and tavernas, built from the 12th Century when Naxos was part of the Venetian Empire – the streets were designed to confuse pirates who were a big problem at that period. And as a result many Naxians moved inland to the mountains to avoid the pirate attacks. Thanks to the Venetian influence, Naxos boasts a fine Catholic cathedral as well as hundreds of Orthodox churches and chapels, many of them on top of mountains.
There are fine museums in Naxos City and many ancient monuments and Venetian towers all over the island. Naxos really invented monumental marble sculpture in 7th century BC (basically it's made of the stuff – they are in the process of removing the tops of two mountains which are solid marble). Naxos has a permanent population of about 20,000, which rises to 180,000 at the height of the summer season – this puts a considerable strain on the island’s infrastructure, especially its water supply which can become more or less undrinkable in July – 160,000 people taking a shower twice a day is a lot of water. Pure spring water is available through public taps around the city and the island.
Tourism came relatively late to Naxos and it has perhaps as a result retained a lot of the character and characteristics of pre-mass travel Greece, socially and economically, away from the western coast around the main town where most of the tourist resorts are to be found. However a lot of previously cultivated land has been abandoned as people have moved to the towns and jobs in the tourism industry, and to the mainland.

Apeiranthos – a traditional mountain village in the north east of the island
Kinidaros – a lush, green valley below the modern marble quarries
Naxos (Hora) – the old Venetian citadel, seen by night from the Palatia
The Portara temple, on the Palatia, whose arch looks towards Delos
Image © Eleni Kapiri 2013

Dimitra – all content © David Simpson 2013

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