Heebong (Scott) Kim | New York, NY – Earth and Environmental Science, 2019
Heebong (Scott) Kim is a freshman from New York City, and an Earth and Environmental Science major. Through this project, Scott hopes to address the potential inefficiencies of the Greek charity system through the apparatus of practice theory. Community partners will include a local farm and DESMOS, a new non-profit organization in Greece playing an important role matching local and international donors (people, organizations and corporations) with Greek charities.
Blog Post One:
I am currently living in Naousa, a city famous for its former industry (which has since moved to countries with looser labor laws), stone fruit cultivation, and wines, which have a provincial protection (e.g., champagne can only be truly champagne if produced in Champagne, France). Naousa is one of the most flourishing areas of Imathia; its dry, intense summers make the soils poor and, interestingly, its fruit bursting in flavor. Still, this region is the most fecund of the 74 Greek prefectures and, thus, has the highest export volume.
Through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), I was paired with Dalamara Winery, a winery passed down through family since 1840. The mother of the family passed away just a month before my arrival, throwing the family in not just emotional but also legal turmoil. Many of the accounts were in the mother’s name, and, a month after her passing, the family was still in the beginning stages of their legal battle. While tragic, this complicated legal ordeal made my job easy: asking how well does government work in Greece?
Of course, almost everyone, Greeks non-Greek alike, loves to complain about government. It either does too much, too little, or, to some, shouldn’t exist at all! But I never expected the government to have such a temporal burden.
Because of Greece’s financial crisis, many arms of government were shut down, and many clerical and administrative agencies were consolidated into the 74 prefectures’ capitals. Veria is Imathia’s capital, and it is in its rough geographical center, however around an hour’s drive from its agricultural stronghold (which is Imathia’s principal industry), and almost all administrative and clerical procedures, no matter how routine, must be done in person. Thus, many small businesses, like my winery, are burdened with losing time because of it. It was described by the owner of a neighboring winery as “Greece’s largest tax. Double [export] duty! If I spent quarter, no half, [of my] time in the s*****office, I could cut prices by five [euro].” This winery’s 2011 bottle costs 23 euro (albeit in Greece and not its largest markets, America and Australia), so a five euro price cut would be huge.
I came into Greece expecting stories of the government’s mismanagement and ignoring μῆτις (metis), an ancient Greek word that means local knowledge (the type of knowledge that makes one pack an umbrella when the forecast predicts a sunny day because one has simply lived in the area for so long). Instead, I find that I see more and more need for government in a very physical sense. Ultimately, through my service, I’ll hear more stories and grow more grapes.