To truncate Charles Dickens: these seem to be the worst of times. Pandemic, recession, war, mass migration, the ravages of accelerating climate change, food shortages, spiking inflation.
We need a reset; we need to step back and look for emerging patterns and imagine new solutions. That is why the Tällberg Foundation is heading to a small village in the Greek Peloponnese early in May: to think together about the lessons of the last years of turmoil and try to identify initiatives to bend the arc of history in more positive directions.
Vamvakou is the perfect setting for this work. A mountain village that had all but been abandoned, it is experiencing a rebirth through the efforts of the Vamvakou Revival, a small group of people with deep local ties who want to build a new future rooted in the history and natural wealth of the Peloponnese. The project is supported by and in collaboration with SNF.
“We will convene in Vamvakou not only because the village now has world class meeting facilities to complement its spectacular natural setting,” said Tällberg’s chairman Alan Stoga, “but also because it is the perfect metaphor for the kind of renewal and re-thinking that is needed now. What SNF is helping Vamvakou Revival do is exactly the kind of creative approach to problem solving that ought to be applied across the range of human endeavor.”
The three-day workshop in early May will bring together almost four dozen participants from 20 countries across Europe, the Americas and Asia: scientists, diplomats, activists, lawyers, academics, technologists, artists, NGO and corporate executives and others. The program will center on distilling lessons from how our societies dealt with the pandemic, exploring the implications of the breakup of the post war global order, identifying the political and social challenges implied by Net Zero Emissions commitments, and the overarching need for a new kind of values-based, global leadership.
“It’s a great honor that the Tällberg Foundation chose Vamvakou for their workshop on ‘The Great Reset,’” said Vamvakou Revival co-founder Haris Vasilakos. “Our partnership with SNF gives us the opportunity to expand our network and explore collaborations. Vamvakou is an ideal place for self-reflection and inspiration, and we are thrilled this important event will take place in our beloved village, where people all over the world will exchange ideas and explore answers about what’s next for humanity.”
“We are social animals, and if there is any hope of dealing constructively with the problems we see on all sides, we need to get out of our caves,” concluded Stoga. “One of the fallacies of the pandemic was that ‘we were all in it together.’ We were not because we could not be. The time for hunkering down has ended; it is time for new thinking and new solutions. That will be the spirit of Vamvakou.”
Vamvakou is a mountain resort village in Inoudas in Laconia in the Peloponnese Region of Greece. Vamvakou Revival, established in August 2018, aims to bring new life to the village by drawing on the history, human capital, and natural wealth of the region, as well as guidance and financial support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). The organization was founded by a group of friends with strong ties to Vamvakou. The vision for the sustainable development of the village has as its primary objective the return of a greater number of permanent residents to the community. By creating job opportunities and comfortable modern living conditions, the Project hopes to see Vamvakοu bustling with families and children and to hear the school bell ring once again. Its main pillars of action are tourism, innovation, agri-food, culture, entrepreneurship. The vision is to make Vamvakou a model for similar projects across the country and internationally.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) is one of the world’s leading private, international philanthropic organizations, making grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and sports, and social welfare. SNF funds organizations and projects worldwide that aim to achieve a broad, lasting, and positive impact for society at large, and exhibit strong leadership and sound management. The Foundation also supports projects that facilitate the formation of public-private partnerships as an effective means for serving public welfare.
Since 1996, the Foundation has committed more than $3.3 billion through over 5,100 grants to nonprofit organizations in more than 135 countries around the world.