The story of the writer, artist and activist Teos Romvos…

Posted: 18 Σεπτεμβρίου, 2020 in english

The story of the writer, artist and activist Teos Romvos, from the start until today’s vision of the Geopark of Syros & Cyclades.

By Crystalia Patouli

I once was an untamed and rebellious kid.

Lived in vagrancy with everything that this entails.

I was sleeping in any place I could find, I ate very little or nothing at all and enjoyed this personal feeling of freedom that I felt I had conquered.

My father, a sculptor, and my brother as well, filled our house with thousands of designs; both of them being special individuals, always had creation on their mind even when everything was going from bad to worse.

1950s, clinics, mental hospitals, electroshocks. When my mother and I visited them I remember them looking haggard and me standing tiny as a mouse next to a woman that had to rise to the occasion.

Mimis, my brother, in the room we shared, used to listen to the radio at nights, the 3rd programme, jazz or classical music and that is how we fell asleep.

I also vaguely remember, being in an old car of a train surrounded by cigarette smoke somewhere close to flisos, crawling on the wooden floor while my mum was listening to the fortune teller telling her what she could see at the bottom of her cup of coffee and if my father was cheating on her. That was the same woman that burnt down the police station of Plaka, joined by other furious women, a night of the big slaughters in December 1944.

While researching in the Historical Archive of Cyclades, I discovered some of my ancestors: Marina Romvos from the island of Tinos, who back in 1937, awakened female workers in Mykonos to demand better work condi-tions and a girl, little Angeliki Romvos, who used to work in the brothels of Ermoupoli in 1878 and was hospitalized for a month receiving gonorrhea therapy.

In a 1936 newspaper I also dug out my father’s award for his sculptures «Poverty» and «Pain» in the First Pancycladic Exhibition.

As an adolescent, I travelled everywhere for 2 years, I saw, lived and I admired life in the world. Love in the West and the East, the simplicity and complexity of life from country to country. When I got 18 I came back and found myself serving in the army. This was the utter dehumanization so I disserted, got imprisoned and after 3 years I was dismissed and went abroad right away, never wanting to return back here.

My years in France (Paris), were nice but tough; I was enjoying my youth and carelessness. I was taught by the texts of some free thinkers, Marcuse, Kastoriadis, who developed his ideas on Autonomy, a source of inspiration for young people like us who realized that revolution could start from universities not from factories.

In 1968, young people marched through the streets, comprehending the need of deep changes in education and social rupture.

A number of Greek students and cinematographers occupied the Fondation Hellenique building, as a protest against the dictatorship in Greece.

It was during those years that I had the chance to live in free zones that functioned in a spirit of collectivity and it was then that I comprehended what co-existence means and started perceiving other people as individual personalities not as specific genders or nationalities. Later, I hitchhiked around Europe or travelled with the Magic Bus. I lived in Germany, accompanied by writers of the Beat generation and started making films that were never completed.

Finally, in 1974, when democracy was restored, disappointed by love and friendships, I returned to Greece.

I opened Octopus Press in Exarcheia, a bookstore that functioned as a space for multiple expressions, communication and happenings. It was burnt down in March 1975 by the fascists of the New Order.

In the spring of 1976, some friends of mine and me created the commune of Benaki street, the place where I met my Hara. During those days I published my first book «Tele-Tuberculosis». That summer was created the support committee to Rolf Pole who was arrested in Athens, with the participation of a lot of people. My bookstore no longer exists so I work in the cinema industry, which has always been my job.

Next year, my friend Nikos Alevras starts filming «A Hail of Bullets», a film in which Hara, me and many other friends participate. During the next years we find ourselves moving frequently because the police visits our and our friend’s houses, claiming to be investigating for armor and explosives.

Hara, me and our group of friends start the adventure of publishing «Trypa» (The Hole»), a magazine against contracts and decorum with a thunderous subtitle: OUR HOLE IS OPEN TO EVERYONE.

Unbelievable yet real, we ended up having dozens collaborations with talented friends who all worked for free; our magazine was finally out and exploded as a big success.

In 1981 we move to Kranidi, the place where I dedicate myself to writing and start my inner search. Writing becomes a journey of self-awareness and at the same time a game of questions and answers. I investigate everything that I have experienced and look towards the future more clearly than ever. The life of a man who steps towards self-awareness with critical thought. My relationship with Hara gets better and better.

She is pleased to see me dedicated to writing; she becomes my reader. I dig up memories, I become my own autobiographer, I describe my experiences, my personal search, my agonies, the unresolved issues, the blurry answers; I introspect thinking about philosophy, sociology, history; some-thing similar to the personal testimony of a person on death row waiting for that moment and I fill more and more papers with words.

We never had children by choice. We felt that having children would be a big commitment, we would have to deny our manifest sociability and sink in the family micro-universe. Besides, we would stop being in love with each other.

We participated in the cultural events of the village. Film club, theatrical group, creation of lending libraries, puppet theatre for the kids, cycling races.

Two years after, we left for Congo. We lived in Kinshasa, wondered in the city, took a big trip to the wild side of the country. I documented all of my experiences in my book «Planos Dromos». Leaving Africa, we enriched the Greek community with the school newspaper and the puppet theatre.

Our next stop was Berlin, a place where we spent some great years and then ended up in Syros out of pure love for the island.

Our dream was to taste the uniqueness of island life, the quietness of the Medieval settlement of Ano Syros close the elements of nature, the north wind raging, the wild storms, the simple yet majestic way of living that follows the seasons of the year with the few but meaningful human relations…

But while witnessing the everyday catastrophe of the landscape we realized that islands are victims of a kind of development that has no beginning or end.

We came into contact with sensitive citizens of the near islands and a group of people, the Union of Citizens of Tinos, the Union of Citizens of Syros and the Movement of Citizens of Mykonos and proceeded to the creation of the Aegean Network. At the same time, we started making contact and collaborating with similar groups and movements across the Aegean and soon the Network was expanded with the participation of teams and people from 22 Aegean islands. Our common goal was to oppose the «fierce and uncontrollable development» and to tackle the severe environmental problems that were created because of the lack of central planning in the Polynesia of the Aegean.

A little later, we presented the online magazine «Eyploia», a magazine that became a valuable «data base» for the residents of the islands and a guide about how individuals or teams could face the increased problems of the islands.

We stopped countless completely unneeded projects (ports, airports, resorts with thousands of buildings, wind farms with hundreds of wind turbines and anything else that the sick human mind can think of), projects that were only meant to be completed so that some entrepreneurs can increase their saving accounts.

These things happened 20 years ago. Now we’re working for the vision of the Geopark of Syros and the Cyclades.

For the first time, we gathered four and a half years ago in an Open Assembly, just a few dozens of citizens, residents of Syros, to discuss the problems our island was facing. It was then that came up the idea that in order for our island not to be destroyed by a kind of «development» that has no beginning or end, we should follow a way of subtle development that can be combined with an alternative kind of tourism, respecting the insularity, the landscape and history. We reached the idea of a Geopark the moment we realized the geological significance of Syros and the rest of the Cycladic islands, which compose a geological museum on active duty.

A Geopark according to UNESCO, is an area that gathers interesting geological, archaeological, natural and cultural characteristics. A consequence of this declaration is the increase of the alternative, geological, archaeological, hiking tourism and by extension the quality upgrading of tourism combined with the protection of the landscape and nature and the revitalization of the local economy. The local community embraced our vision so in collaboration with the local authorities we move on to the implementation of our plan. An archetype project aiming at the protection and maintenance of Ano Meria in Syros and in expansion the whole island and the protected area of the Marine Park of Giaros and the subtle utilization and promotion of the natural environment and the monuments and cultural elements that are connected to it as well.


(*) Of the islands that accede to the project… This vision has already started to be materialized with the collaboration of the Municipality of Syros — Ermoupolis and the Social Cooperative Enterprise Ano Meria. This way, on our own initiative and in collaboration with the Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Municipality of Syros submitted a motion for the approval of the program — that has already being approved (€367,000) — aiming at the restoration of 3 paths that lead to positions of great geological interest and the creation, in an existing municipal room, of a Geological Museum that provides the necessary equipment so that the academic researchers can proceed their work. We already collaborate with the Body of Administration of Protected Areas Natura 2000, the University of the Aegean (creation of a data base for virtual tours with the use of GPS, etc.), the Department of Forests of the Cyclades about the issue of the paths, the Developmental Society of the Cyclades, the Chamber of Commerce, the bodies of primary and secondary Education, the Archaeological Service, WWF, MOm and other organizations that are involved in the creation of the Marine Park of Giaros (directly connected with the island of Syros), the Hellenic Society of Environment and Culture, Nature Friends and Geological Departments of Universities in Greece and abroad (professors and students) who visit the island frequently in order to geologically study the land.

3 years have passed since the beginning of the project and 2 from the establishment of the Social Cooperative Enterprise and so far we have achieved: 1. the mobilization of a big part of the local population with open assemblies taking place in the amphitheatre of the University. 2. the formation of working groups focusing on matters concerning the declaration of the Geopark, the maintenance of the paths, contributing to the public awareness and the realization that alternative tourism and the production of organic agricultural products is the new sustainable model of development. 3. the organization of a scientific seminar (5/17) and an art exhibition about the im-portance of the protection and maintenance of Ano Meria. 4. the organization of informative and artistic events (5/17). 5. publishing the magazine «Syriana Grammata» (320 p.) focusing on the geological and archaeological treasures of the island, biodiversity, paths etc. (4/17) and a special issue (500 p.) dedicated to the history of Giaros and the Marine Park of Giaros (’18). 6. the organization of seminars for farmers (5/18).

Our goals are: • Declaration of Syros as a Geopark by UNESCO. • Strengthening and stimulation of traditional modes of farming (unhydrous), beekeeping, viticulture, agritourism. • Development of the hiking routes network. • Creation of a space where the Social Co-operative Enterprise can organize guided tours, sell local products, provide maps, organize educational programmes etc.

Who we are: The Open Assembly of Syros, the Working Groups as well as the approximately 400 people that are electronically informed by the secretariat about the process of the project and all the new matters that come up (discussions, suggestions, decisions). Together we can do something global and unique!,

WHO IS WHO Teos Romvos (1945-) is a writer, translator and activist, characterized by liberal and inspired ideas. He was born in Koukaki neighbourhood in Athens. Night school classes, fights with power brokers, various jobs, vagrancy. He shipped out in 1961, lived periodically in Latin America, Japan, the United States and elsewhere. His most permanent stays were in France (1966-1969), Germany (1969-1974 and 1987-1991), Athens (1974-1981), Kranidi Peloponnese (1981-1984), Africa (1984-1985) and within all these periods in Athens. Since 1993 he has been living in Apano Chora Syros. In France he takes some cinematography courses and produces his first experimental films. Later, in Germany, he joins German writers and produces films he never completes; he works in German TV; he writes scenarios and literature tapes. In Athens, after the democratic transition, he opens his bookstore «Octopus» and works as a publisher. He is the publisher of «Trypa» magazine. Many of his works are published in magazines and newspapers. He published the books «3 Moons at the Square», «Passion Text», «Georgios Negros: The Tiger of the Aegean», «Plotinos Rodokanakis: a Greek Anarchist», «Beguiling Road», «Tele-Tuberculosis», «Secret Journeys», «Assassins of the North, Drosoulites of the South», «Traces» and «Georgios Kipiotis: a Friend of Children». He has also translated a number of books like «Anthology of the Bad Americans», «African Tales», which he collected during his stay in Congo, «New Era Underground», «Ask the Dust» by John Fante, «Notes of a Dirty Old Man» by Bukowski etc. During the last 25 years, while living in Syros, in collaboration with many people from the islands, they create the Aegean Network of Environmental Organizations that includes trips, meetings, discussions about the problems that occur, ecological activism, documentaries about the unique island universe and updating by the online magazine «Eyploia» ( about the uncontrollable destruction of the islands and the Aegean Sea by a shortsighted «development» that does not take into consideration the future.





TRACES – The Stone Chronicle of the Island of Syros …

Thalassea Magazine / Issue 5 / Summer 2020 by …


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