Erato Xatzymihalaki

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated patterns of nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night and spring after the winter. The rainbows of life follow the storm. Likewise hope colors our attitude & vision as the moving energy of life force. Hope creates, hope sustains, hope inspires…

The Green Angel these months of spring is the Angel of Hope, who dares to dream of a harmonious, sustainable co-existence between man and nature while rebuilding a relationship that can retrieve forgotten truths, bringing people closer to the serenity of nature and the inner serenity of one’s own existence.
‘Hopeland’ is a vision that has gradually, over the last two years found its realization on a slope in the land of Argolis in Peloponnese-Greece, between olive trees that resemble sculptures, preserved holm oaks, an oak tree 500 years old and houses made of straw bales; one of the friendliest, dreamlike human intervention in nature. 


Erato, which is the vision behind ‘Hopeland’?
My occupation is that of a family counselor and for some time now I have worked in parental counseling. Through this activity I realized very quickly how children grow up by chance. How parents are not prepared for it, how they are not ready to answer questions, how they rely on whatother people are doing, and on what their parents did or the opposite.The educational system on the other hand is focused on giving knowledge rather than cultivating critical thinking and all that leaves children unsatisfied, if not miserable. My initial desire was to build a school, but that was something that could not be realised practically, so I turned towards the idea of creating a space that could function as a camp where children could come and learn some hidden truths; things having to do with nature, things that they don’t have the opportunity to learn in the cities, even in villages anymore, learn how to eat well, learn about proper standards of living as well as learn to participate in the actions and decision making. This was the initial concept. I saw this place as a nature camp with a small number of children who will be working the land, will learn to plant, learn about nature and its elements. Which child really knows nowadays that we as humans come from earth, water, air, fire and finally ether, the forgotten spiritual element and such things?
Then I thought that this area in winter should be used by adults for knowledge in the form of seminars that have more to do with self-awareness, ecology, psychology, focusing more on the side of anthroposophical knowledge. Slowly the idea took the form of a community. I visited two communities abroad, ‘Damanhur’ in Turin and ‘Findhorn’ in Scotland. I sought information through the internet and settled on the idea of forming an eco-community which would include the whole process of recycling and permaculture which started in Australia and tends to cover the whole world with the idea of sustainability of an area whether that is our balcony or the roof of our house, or a huge estate. In this context the housings should be passive solar houses, made with as much natural building materials as possible. While searching I came across a natural construction method with straw bales. I found it an easy and quick way of constructing, with earthquake-resistant benefits and insulating benefits for cooling in summer and heating in winter. One leads to another and now we reached ... Hopeland.


What does hope mean to you?
Hope is life. Life without hope cannot be. Hope is the basic quality of human, if hope becomes extinct, life would be extinguished.

...And in your case we see that it’s that which turns the impossible into possible ... how a vision begins with an idea until it takes its practical form ... How would you describe this process so far?
The feeling I have is that it is a miracle. There were too many small coincidental moments together that formed a collective miracle. I feel that there is help for this entire project, the circumstances and synchronicities led me to meet the right people while the initial resources were found to start all this.
I think this kind of community structures have to do with our present as well as our future, where we can begin to construct the transition to a more healthy way of living. The greek financial crisis came to seal this. This damage cannot go on anymore. In essence it is all about a crisis in values that culminates with the economical crisis we are going through now. From somewhere love for life should be fired once again and this cannot be done within the city. The houses, the cement, the lack of colors ... we are living in dead material. Relationships, communication, values, what is alive anymore?

Is there hope in Nature?
The very nature is hope. You see how the cycle of life is within the 4 seasons .... how a flower decomposes and is reborn and decomposes and is reborn again. This is life, hope and creativity.

Considering the way man has intervened in nature so far, do you believe there is hope?
There is hope, it is up to us to awaken to the knowledge that lies within us.No need to look for this knowledge out there, it’s already within us.

Do you think that this is a general awakening period we are going through now where the spiritual awakening coincides with the green awakening?
I think the darkness is about to end, that this time is the kick of death. It is striving to hold on, it’s like the Lernaean Hydra, where you cut one head and ten more come out, it hooks, it bites, it resists but eventually dies in the presence of the good. The light is born ...actually it has been since forever, but now is the time where, in the core of every human there is an awakening, the spark becomes a flame and many flames together make the light. I think we live in great times. Much is said and much is heard and certainly it’s not an easy process we go through, but I think it's only for the course of good ...but how to say this to a man who loses his home because he owes ... how to say ... you know it is for your own good… It’s not a matter of telling now, you have to let him see it for himself.

In a society where the prevalent pattern of well-being is ‘the more we have, the more we are’ what does ‘Hopeland’ have to suggest?
The key is to go back to the truth of 'I am'. We have seen how the 'I have' functions so far. Those who are from middle class and above know this well. We have too many things… from the gadgets in our bags and in our homes, the cars and the bank accounts… In the midst of all these things, we forget the 'I am' and this is the reason that this season is truly an awakening. Because it puts us back to discover that we really are not what we have... because we do not have anymore, so what's left? It is very essential now to turn oneself inwards and indulge in the process of self-awareness.

What is it that we need to cultivate within ourselves that will enable us to produce thoughts that are able to transform our reality?
What I think makes the difference is how you see reality. If you divide people into two general categories, those who see the glass half empty and those who see the glass half full, those who belong to the second category are those who like alpinists and pioneers move forward and all the rest follow. What we need to say again, is that what is needed is hope. Without hope we cannot create anything.

Erato Hatzymihalaki was interviewed by Vasia Pelegrati