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Alexandros Panagiotopoulos

2018/19 Messolonghi

Alexandros Panagiotopoulos lives in Messolonghi, a small town in Western Greece. He recently graduated from the National and Kapodistrian University of Greece, where he studied economics.

He currently works as a freelance photographer in his hometown, while at the same time participating in different local citizens’ initiatives that aim to change the city and protect the natural environment. Alexandros is a young person who has returned to his hometown and wants to stay, work and develop socio-culture there despite the crisis and the difficulties. He believes in achieving change through participatory processes. His project aims to map and disseminate the culture of Messolonghi through a physical and digital “local hub” and through a participatory city branding scheme.His background and goals let him entitle as an aspiring and skilled cultural manager.

Project Progress Phase III Phase II Phase I

Phase III

Scaling the projects in Greece

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Duration

Sep onwards

Project Title

Messolonghi by Locals

“Messolonghi by Locals” is an initiative empowering collectiveness in the local community of Messolonghi by giving citizens a voice to express what their city is for them, to map it in the form of cultural routes and then disseminate it to the rest of the world.
The scaled project aims to continue with the mapping process that began in Phase II and involve even more citizens, schools, associations and local clubs. Participants have already started mapping new cultural routes and organizing events and activities. Regarding educational institutions, they will continue to play an important role to this project. In Phase II, the mapping process became an experiential way of learning for children. Applying to the ministry of Education in order to make the creation of cultural routes an official educational program for schools of the area is one the next steps of the project.


The “Local Hub” will continue to be a meeting point and a sociocultural center where people can express themselves, enrich their knowledge, co-create and connect. Events (seminars, exhibitions, concerts, etc.) have been planned for this summer and more ideas are being added to the calendar for the year to come.
However, what truly takes this project to the next level is the dissemination of the identity of the city. This dissemination has a dual meaning. Firstly, it is about sharing with the rest of the locals information on Messolonghi acquired throughout the mapping process. In the following year a festival will take place where the locals in the role of tour guides will walk the public through the cultural routes they have designed. Secondly, dissemination is also about sharing the co-created cultural identity with the rest of the world. In this context, the upper floor of the “Local Hub” will be renovated in order to work as an information centre for travellers who want to experience Messolonghi through the eyes of a local by offering information and cultural maps, guided cultural tours and connecting them with the local community. This will provide financial resources to the project and encourage cultural exchange in the city. Due to my experience of Phase II and the excessive workload that I encountered in many cases, a job vacancy will open for assistant project manager in order to prevent crisis events and keep the standards of the project high.


“Messolonghi by Locals” is a project that is changing the mentality of the locals and empowering the value of co-creation and solidarity. The feeling of “us” is were the strength of the project lies. Moreover, locals are becoming more aware of the value of the city's resources and of the need to protect its local heritage, culture and natural environment. The scaled project aims to continue this social impact on the local community, encourage young people to return back to their hometown and locals to become more engaged in decision making. “Messolonghi by Locals” will also support in terms of consultation and collaboration new ideas for cultural initiatives in the city.

Messolonghi by Locals, credits: Alexandros Panagiotopoulos
Messolonghi by Locals, credits: Alexandros Panagiotopoulos
Messolonghi by Locals, credits: Alexandros Panagiotopoulos
Messolonghi by Locals, credits: Alexandros Panagiotopoulos

Phase II

Project implementation in Greece

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Duration

Dec - May

Project Title

Messolonghi by Locals

The "Messolonghi by Locals" initiative concerns the creation of a participatory branding scheme for the city of Messolonghi; enabling citizen engagement in the mapping of the identity of the city and empowering creativity and cultural diversity. Although Messolonghi has a rich culture, it has never been fully mapped and disseminated - neither inside nor outside the city walls. In order to do so, the question “What is Messolonghi for you?” is addressed to the locals and answered by them. Enabling the locals to become the branders of their own city, through participatory processes and democratic methods of decision-making (including dialogue, consultations, partnerships and networks) is this initiative’s primary goal. In order to understand and then map the identity of Messolonghi, local enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds collect information regarding the heritage of the city. The collected information is then used to create thematic itineraries, or paths, presented in the form of an interactive map of Messolonghi. The “Local Hub”, a meeting point for the project, has been created in the centre of the city. The “Hub” is a sociocultural centre where people can express themselves, enrich their knowledge, co-create and connect; it is a space of creation, expression, education and networking.

Phase I

Capacity building in Germany

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Duration

Sep - Nov

Project Title

Participatory Photography Exhibition: “My Lörrach is.../ My Messolonghi is...”

The project is about mapping and disseminating the culture of Messolonghi through a physical and digital “info hub”.

The initiative includes a participatory city branding scheme and aims to create an authentic image for Messolonghi formed by the locals themselves. Messolonghi’s ecosystem, traditions, history and daily routine of the locals form a rich culture which has never been spread outside the city’s boundaries. As a result, the culture remains unknown to a large percentage of the world. What contributes to this is the fact that there is no info point in the city, nor is there an organized digital platform where one can see the beauties and admire the cultural context of the city. The mapping and the dissemination of the local culture of Messolonghi through a physical and digital “info hub” created in collaboration with the locals is the subject of this proposal.

Host Institution

Nellie Nashorn

The sociocultural center Nellie Nashorn in Lörrach has been in existence  for the past 30 years, located in a 19th century mansion.  The main building accommodates the office, two lecturing rooms and a tavern with a  stage.  An event hall and a  cinema is located in the adjoining buildings.

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