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Grampus initiative and Cyprus village life

When I got a phone call from Martin, a British gentleman living in the village of Lefkara, regarding an initiative to develop rural culture I was a bit confused…was it about advertising Cyprus agrotourism? Maybe about helping rural residents? It was only when he mentioned he was with a group of St Martins university students (yes, THE St Martins in London) and was teaching them to take rural traditions and make more commercial and modern products that he had my full attention. Over the past few months they have been involved in things like “trash for fashion” (taking wasted textiles and other materials and turning them into jewellery, as well as using “Lefkaritika” on more fashionable clothing by teaching local ladies to use different colour fabrics and new designs.
So what is the whole thing about? Grampus is a UK based non-profit organization involved in the management and promotion of European projects concerned with culture, heritage, archaeology and the environment. Apart from Iceland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Ireland and a few others, Cyprus is a part of the countries in which Grampus have projects. What is really interesting is that, instead of using university researchers or established specialists, they use young students and locals for their projects in this way engaging all kinds of people who can apply rural culture into their lives. Most of their projects are EU funded and their cause is split into four parts:
1) Archaeology: UK archaeology students can travel around the world and visit archaeological sites as well as take part in excavations for as long as 6 weeks. This helps the countries involved to enlighten the world of their heritage, and also helps the relevant students by providing them with an opportunity to apply their knowledge into field work.
2) Environmental development: Grampus usually joins with village partnerships to help rural and environmental development in areas with declining income, decreasing population and loss of land and traditional skills. Projects around this initiative include working with the local producers  to re-learn skills and testing traditional products (such as lime-based products in Bulgaria and honey and olive based products in Cyprus).
3) Culture: part of rural development under which Grampus started an initiative to re-learn skills (like “Lefkaritika making”) and re-introduce them into young people’s lives in order to regenerated the local economy and bring back young people back into the villages.
4) Economics: help rejuvenate rural economy in order to decrease migration to urban areas, by creating work for younger people. I don’t mean ploughing fields but more like creating profitable businesses from rural products (olive oil products, honey, carob syrup, “lefkara lace”, etc).
And why am I writing this? Firstly because I think it is a fantastic initiative especially for a country like Cyprus whose heritage is important but also quite strong. Secondly because there are a number of up coming events, including “Lefkaritika” (lace from Lefkara) on colorful fabrics and modern clothes show and sale on Friday 25th of May, “trash for fashion” (the creative St Martin’s students taking other people’s trash, textiles and tiles and making them into jewellery) and many more.
This is not about becoming farmers or wearing old people’s clothes but about supporting our local products, deepening our knowledge and enlighten ourselves about our heritage and using tradition in our everyday lives in a more cool way.

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