Nov 202020
 November 20, 2020  Posted by at 8:14 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , ,

Georgia O’Keeffe Red poppy No. VI 1928



High time for another update about our support for what is now called the “Self-managed Social Kitchen Monastiraki” here in Athens (Athina). It’s again been a while, because for a long time so many things were uncertain and up in the air. I guess that is inevitable when the entire world lives through insecure times, and the homeless as always are more affected by such things than anyone else.

For the first half of the year, I wasn’t even here, I spent the first lockdown period in Holland, because I thought Greece would be more affected than it, but I was very wrong. Greece had it down then. It’s only now, 3-4 months after they opened their borders to tourism again, that things go wrong.

But the country needs revenue from tourism, it cannot keep its borders closed forever. There’s a lesson in there somewhere about what I wrote earlier, that “after 10 months, we can’t keep treating COVID as the only problem in town. That’s myopic. We need a bigger picture”.

Athens went into another full lockdown recently, and the city is devoid of life. Which will kill off another large part of the “mom-and-pop” businesses that make it function and kept it vibrant. There’s exactly two Starbucks in Athens, to name an example, one McDonald’s and one KFC, and I think they should be very proud of that. Monoculture kills life itself, both in farming and in city streets.

And countless people working in the “mom-and-pop” businesses, and in the tourist- and hospitality industries, no longer have jobs. They get some financial support, but not enough to pay all their bills. So what do they do? They go see each other indoors, where the infection risk is higher.

Still, here we are. And we have to deal with it. Back in March, the Monastiraki kitchen did that too. A lockdown doesn’t make the homeless any less hungry or needy, it makes them more so. And the boys and girls responded to that under ever more difficult circumstances. When cooking in the street was no longer viable, they devised a way to cook in a private space nearby and ride out the food to Monastiraki Square, on a cart.



Problem with that is it costs a lot more time and money, because every meal has to be individually packaged, and you now in COVID time need sanitizer and gloves and tons of bags, and facemasks. I bought a whole bunch of N95 masks for everyone a few weeks ago, because there are real risks when working close together, and then handing out the meals to the clients. I want to keep these people as safe as possible.


Then this summer, there was another issue. The kitchen had returned to cooking on the square, but in early August was told by municipal police that there were anonymous complaints about them “taking up public space”, and they couldn’t come back. All attempts since to find out what exactly was going on have landed nowhere. At one point some official promised he would come with a solution, only to never be heard from again.

And so, certainly with the new lockdown in place, the decision was made to keep cooking in the private place, and rolling out the food to the square. People are good at adapting. But there remains an underlying threat of the kitchen volunteers being arrested, a threat that was actually made in early August. For feeding people in need. Some world.


And this is a good moment to introduce Filothei, the lady and girl who is the driving force behind the kitchen now. Which she will deny, because it’s all about everyone else, not her, and because she insists she’s only 17. I began to wonder about the kitchen’s finances when I got back to Athens in June 2020, I thought they’d badly need more of the Automatic Earth funds, but they were in no hurry.

Meet Filothei 😉



Digging further, I realized we only provided some 10-15% of the funding. So where did the rest come from? It took some questioning, but sure enough, a large part of the answer is: from Filothei herself. And while that is supersweet, it also makes for a vulnerable situation. And then, of course, she got hurt a month ago when a piece of a mirror fell into (yes, into) her arm and she hasn’t been able to work her job as a physiotherapist for handicapped people since.

By the way, Filothei also has a large organic garden, which provides most of the vegetables for most of the year. For 200 meals every week! Automatic Earth readers’ donations are typically used to buy the staples, pasta, olive oil, canned tomatoes etc.

We decided to run a trial on November 16, when Filothei went to the supermarket with some of the €1,000 in coupons she still had left from what I bought in early July(!), without using anything still in stock, to see the cost for one run of 200 meals, and it showed a total of €242 (in current exchange rates, close to $300 US). While “my” coupons have paid for some €20 per week. We were both surprised at the numbers.



And no, €242 for 200 meals is not much, it’s less than €1.15 per person. While the NGO’s and charities funded by governments and the EU claim costs of €5-€10 per meal. But you still have to have the €242 every week. And it shouldn’t come from one sweetheart of a girl, or from me, or any other individual person. That’s not how you run a social kitchen operation long term.

Moreover, because of the COVID situation, other people who used to provide some funds, no longer can, because out of 30 of them “affiliated” with the kitchen, only 3 now still have jobs. When it rains, it pours.



So on November 16 we did the shopping trial, and the next day I went along for the whole cooking process, about 4 hours. November 17 is the day Greece commemorates its then military junta violently putting down a student protest at the Polytechnic university compound in 1973, and the government tightened its lockdown measures even more, fearing protests, which meant many who usually help in the kitchen were afraid to come in, fearing a €300 fine.

As did I, but hey, hard as it is to understand the details of the lockdown measures when you don’t speak the language, if others take the risk, who am I not to? There was police in full riot gear everywhere, and at the end of the day, around 7.30 pm, we had meals left. That never happens. Some of the guys later went into side streets, where the homeless were hiding from the police, and handed out dozens more meals.


But of course things ain’t all bad. Filothei told me yesterday about a group of people, organized in the “Love Van”, which is an organization made up of Greek athletes, that reached out to her to ask what she needs, and now promised to bring 160 winter coats and 160 sleeping bags next week to the kitchen. That’s such a grand gesture. Coat: $100 a piece, sleeping bag $100 a piece?!



Not everything is bad. And no matter how bad it gets, we will somehow make it through this. Hey, the shortest day of the year is only one month away, and after that things can only get better. But you already know what I’m going to say next: please help me, help us, help the people that need your help most.

Put the Automatic Earth, and the Monastiraki kitchen, in your Christmas donations list in 2020, and contribute to a real effort to help real people beset by real problems. These are mostly not people with drug- or alcohol problems, they are people who lost their jobs or businesses and their homes, through no fault of their own. That was true when I first got here in Spring 2015, and it’s even more so now, because COVID has killed off so many ways to carve out at least a minimum existence.



Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them, especially for Christmas-.

I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.

But I cannot do this on my own right now. To get through the winter in one piece, the Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,000 per month. I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. In earlier times, 2016-2017, we had way more than that with Konstantinos, but both Filothei and I decided a few years back, independently from each other, that we didn’t want to work with him anymore.

So let’s see where we can get today, shall we? I want to write the perfect article with the perfect plea, but there is of course no such thing. Therefore, I will be back in a few weeks time with a reminder -and updates-, hoping that y’all have gotten the message.

I love all you people so much, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier.

Love you. Thank you.








We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.



Turns out, the same Filothei is quite the photographer too:

Filothei Photography



Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.


Home Forums Automatic Earth in Athens November 2020

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    Georgia O’Keeffe Red poppy No. VI 1928     High time for another update about our support for what is now called the “Self-managed Social Ki
    [See the full post at: Automatic Earth in Athens November 2020]



    As @Madamski noted we have a severe homeless problem stateside. It’s spreading from the metro areas at a good clip. I had to deal with the results of a homeless gathering behind the shop this morn. They made a big mess and walked away. I was mad but more concerned about the cause. It’s a symptom let’s be honest.

    You allude to most of the ones there being victims of circumstance. Problem that I see is that if they can not get back on their feet quickly then it becomes a slow slide into disrespect for organized society, laziness and ultimately schizophrenia. I could be wrong but I have tried to help what I call the “campers” for years now and they just keep sliding.

    There is something in human nature that is robust and durable. I’m concerned that because we feel empathy and love we nurture weakness instead of nurturing to strength. I don’t know?

    Filothei is beautiful. I feel in love almost immediately. Make sure the kitchen gets my donation.

    Hahaha! 😊



    Thanks for this post. In the last few years have had many good moments at Monastiraki. First time in Greece, I came up to street level from the Athens metro and realized that my wallet was gone. I saw the Parthenon and said to Pam: Look at that! Wow! Ground zero for western civilization. This is a great day!! What is three hundred evros? It is someone else’s celebration.

    Filothei reminds me of Dmitra on Amorgos. Greek women! I’m learning to paint. Can’t wait to return. Sorry for such a small donation.

    Dr. D

    Stateside all I have is work because everything is broken. But with the work comes food at least.

    Of course they do everything anyone can think of to prevent employment, but finding a line and showing up is about all it takes because nobody can do even that. Legally or illegally, and thanks to government, probably illegally, under the table. Legally they would stop you from showing up, stop you from working if you did, and make sure you didn’t get paid enough to survive. Illegally, well, at least there’s work no one will admit to, and at least it’s cash. I hear Greece knows a lot about that, and Italy too, which is what they’re trying to kill right now: poor people. Free will. Hard work.

    But you notice a lot of ignorant, lazy, poor, entitled, obedient apparatchiks does not make a successful society, much less culture. So human effort escapes into the black market, and all money hides. For 1,000 years if necessary.

    What I see being built is the social connections that will pay later on whether things get better or worse. But when you outlaw all work, people get poor: who knew? It kills thousands. It pushes all poor wealth exclusively to the rich and their minions, such as participating police. Who knew?

    Ready to stop playing along with these rapacious vikings and go work and eat again? I have been for 30 years but I could use a little help.


    @Dr. D

    “Ready to stop playing along with these rapacious vikings and go work and eat again? I have been for 30 years but I could use a little help.”

    I’ve been working since a child. Chores were a required contribution to the household. First real job at 14 as soon as I could get a work permit. Picking corporate farmed strawberries. Thankless work. I had(and have!) much respect for my fellow farmworkers. They did what they had to do … eat. I learned early on that if my work actually added value then I did not contribute as much to the entropic process. At least the entropy that tended to increase at my immediate ‘locale’. Same as you, I’m having trouble getting the work that is available to my little band of laborers done. Saying no to work is hard for me and something I do not do lightly. But we can only do what we can do, so filtering has become almost a luxury. Best year in 15 years…so far.

    I’ve been rattling the rapacious vikings for 50 years. @D Benton Smith could probably point me to the many *lists* I….and prob many of the peeps on AE as well are already on.

    So….. I’m down big bro Dr. D.! I have always been on your team.


    Victims of circumstance -for sure. The talk about need for jobs and job availability – remember this lack of jobs for working class people in the west was brought about by trade agreements and policies off-shoring jobs to places with no government standards for workers or the environment. A get rich quick scheme for hard-working Richie Rich folks. If only we had no government standards in the West, then we could all have “jobs” and work in slave-like conditions making plastic toys. And then we can sit back and wonder why people lose respect for society.



    At the risk of being accused of victim shaming(again) you brief synopsis of what is really going on is right and it is wrong at the same time. How can that be? Well in my view because; it too simple, too black and white and it makes somebody else’s *circumstance* mine. Lacks nuance. I can confirm and refute every point you made, because I have been on one side or the other of every point you made…….in some cases both sides at different times. I hear you. I could tell you a hundred stories but I won’t bore you.

    I wish you the best of luck Carol. Truly. I know I’m going to need it too. I hold hope that I will recognize it when it presents….and you will too. Open heart sorta stuff know? Peace.

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