Olga Lafazani: Migrant's Social Center (Steki* Metanaston)

Olga Lafazani

The story of “Steki Metanaston” begins on the first floor of Valtetsiou 35 Street in Exarheia, in the spring of 1997. The 90’s was the decade that many people, mainly from the Balkans, migrated towards Greece while the first antiracist groups and migrant communities were created, struggling for legalization and equal rights, against racism and exclusion. Steki started functioning on the initiative of the Network of Social Support to Migrants and Refuges, with the aim to provide a meeting space for the migrant and antiracist movement in Athens.
Within the next years Steki Metanaston opened up to a much wider and more complex mosaic of activities and encounters, expanding on its initial aim. Over the past 17 years it has been a meeting point for several different groups: migrant communities, antiracist and antifascist collectives, political groups of the wider antagonistic movement, feminist, gay, lesbian and queer collectives and cultural groups. At the same time, many different activities take place at Steki Metanaston: free Greek language lessons, open discussions, assemblies, cultural activities, festivals, screenings, exhibitions, collective kitchens, activities for children. Steki is also the place where many important initiatives, mobilizations, manifestations and campaigns have begun. Among them is the Antiracist Festival, a Festival that is organized in Athens for the past 18 years with the participation of more than 300 different groups and collectives and with more than 25.000 visitors. Step by step, more 'Stekia Metanaston' were founded in many other Greek cities, including Thessaloniki, Volos, Rethymno, Chania and Patra.
In 2003 Steki moved to Tsamadou 13 Street, to a bigger space that could host all these wide activities. Steki is run by an open assembly where different groups and people participate and is self-funded through its different activities. Steki is open every day and it functions as a small world that brings together many different worlds: people with different levels of participation, with different stories and languages, with different views and ways of political intervention. This is probably both its most interesting aspect and the biggest challenge it faces, as the everyday coexistence and collaboration of so many different people is a difficult and often conflictual process. Nonetheless we think that this attempt is not only interesting but crucial in order for all of us to learn to coexist, to exchange, to build collective spaces of solidarity and freedom. 

Tsamadou 13, Exarheia, Athens, 210-3813928
17:00-23:00 every day,

http://tsamadou13-15.espivblogs.net/

*Steki” is a Greek word meaning a more or less permanent site where certain people, familiar to each other, gather and meet regularly. It can be an area in a town (e.g. a square, a park), a café, or even an apartment. Recently, it has started to be used amongst the social movements in Greece in a sense similar to the Italian “Social Centers”. 

Olga Lafazani is a member of Network of Social Support to Migrants and Refugees

 

  • Translated by: Iraklis Oikonomou
  • The original text was first published on: Original text