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Greek stage of Heterotopia Tour brought the group of participants to make a community living experience in the small village of Panagitsa, situated in the Greek region of Arcadia. Such a background – that of a small reality with people not so much accustomed to receive visits from groups of people coming from different cultures – can reveal some difficulties regarding the total acceptance and tolerance of visitors’ “behavior”.
Not always the connection with local community happens in a smooth way, for this reason we need to define some behavioral norms on this issue in order to avoid unpleasant circumstances. Panagitsa experience clearly showed how the connection with local community must follow a sort of precise path; a fundamental role is played by “intermediaries”, figures that live inside the community and can easily perform like bridges between the community and the hosts. Such intermediaries can address the hosts toward behaviors that could not upset the normal community way of living.
In Panagitsa a school, a hotel and the youth center were made available to the group. Such places were used for the group activities and became also the spaces in which community and hosts came in contact with each other. Even places like restaurants and cafes were usually used by the group for meetings and, in my opinion, they maybe acted as the best touch point between community and hosts. In a small reality like Panagitsa, these places are the first step for the mutual knowledge and those where people can establish the first relationship with others.
Some behaviors considered normal for the group have been disapproved by the community. I want to disclose here just few cases: the vision of a woman walking in the street with summer clothes and with the belly out caused a stir among the elders, some teenagers of the village told us not to practice acro-yoga in the school courtyard or in places where local residents could see us. Such ways of thinking are dictated by people’s education and, in this specific case, by the “normal” way of living of a small village inhabitants little used to confront themselves with people coming from different educations and morals. However, I think the hosts must respect the inhabitants point of view and realize that a different place may mean a restraint to their behaviors.