Greek Pirates are back on the road and speed up
April was a month of intense activity for the Pirate party of Greece. After a turbulent period with the party on the verge of disolving, Greek Pirates are not only back on the road but accelerating onto the highway.
There are many reasons why PPGR have strengthened significantly over the past month. The Greek Pirates had a strong representation in Richard Stallman’s two lectures in Athens. They organized a very successful beer meeting in the heart of the capital city. They are running a radio station online. However, the most important reason for the improved activity comes from when Greek Pirates sponsored a school team in the recent finals of miniature Formula 1 racing cars (!), an event that attracted the attention of more than 1000 visitors. April has been a good month for PPGR and brought back “the spring” for the party.
Thanasis Gounaris, former chairman of the Board of PPGR and founder of “Pirates in Education”, started the piratiko.radio. In the first phase of its operation the radio played only creative commons music and it receives up to 300 simultaneous listeners with the prospect of upgrading later. For the close future there is an idea of broadcasting another program in collaboration with Pirates from around the world. Also, piratiko.radio announced that it will be live streaming the demonstrations of May 15th that are organized in Athens, as well as in many other cities in Greece and throughout Europe by the “Nuit Debout” movement.
Sponsoring F1 miniature cars
“F1 in Schools” is a not-for-profit educational organisation, which relies solely upon support and contributions from industry to be able to operate and deliver a World-class STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) competition that has engaged with more than 20 million students (aged 9 to 19) from 20,000 schools in 40 countries. The “F1 in schools – Greece 2016” finals, is the national branch of the international competition.
It is a global educational program raising awareness of Formula 1 and inspires students to use IT to learn about physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacture, branding, graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership/teamwork, media skills and financial strategy. This knowledge is then applied in a practical, imaginative, competitive and exciting way to design, analyse, manufacture, test, and then race miniature gas powered F1 cars that are made of balsa wood. Cars are powered by CO2 cartridges (compressed air) and their maximum speed is about 60-70 km/h. The straight race-track measures 24 meters and has two lanes, enabling two F1’s competing heads up. The time of each car is measured by using sensors and suitable equipment.
Penelope Petropoulou (pictured in the featured image) is a member of the Arbitration Committee of PPGR. She had the idea of PPGR doing sponsorship for “Team Infinity” from the Leonteio Patissia High School in Athens. Penelope Petropoulou told the Pirate Times how the idea was born:
“My son, Panagiotis, introduced me to the competition and I decided to research it. I noticed that in previous competitions radio stations were included among the sponsors. So I thought that it would be a good idea to have a sponsorship by our pirate radio.
The idea started from the fact that the competition is carried out through the course of Informatics, which is directly related to the Pirate movement. Suffice it to say that all the components, used by our team, were made via 3D printer and I’m very excited with the contact we had with all these new technological possibilities” – Penelope Petropoulou
The national finals were held during the weekend of April 23/24 and in total there were 29 teams from Greek Schools participating. Sponsors appeared in all events, everything from having a team of supporters to the clothing and other promotional items. The finals gained great publicity among students and had media coverage of several nationwide television channels, magazines, radios, etc. In total more than 1000 visitors watched the 2 day finals, many of them particularly interested in the team of Leonteio and their sponsoring of the piratiko.radio which was recognizable by their pirate flag. Races were live streamed and many photos from the races were taken.
Panagiotis Gounaris, Marketing officer of “Team Infinity” told Pirate Times:
“Every year, models of F1 miniature cars are created, inspired by real racing cars and their construction gets improved by using designs of previous years. Their design is made in a special computer software (solid works 2016) and their construction in computational environment, with the help of various programs, such as “libre office” and include: Study of previous work, testing and redesign, printing of at least two miniature cars in 3D printer, assembling and painting.
After continuous assessment during the school year, we were able to participate in the finals. We were evaluated by our presentation, the appearance and score-times of our car, our pavilion and clothing. It was the most decent result depending on the low budget we had, compared to the other teams that reached up to 10 times the amount of our own. We managed to get into the 16 best teams, in the first participation of our school in those races. We lost at a knockout match against the team that ranked 2nd and will travel, by donor costs, to the international finals which will be held in Texas. We hope to do better next year.”
Talking with Stallman about copyright and free software
On April 11th and 12th, Richard Stallman, chairman and founder of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), gave two speeches in Athens with a focus on copyright. Three representatives of PPGR attended the lectures and submitted questions to Stallman. The question of most importance was about the possibility of a partnership (a joint campaign for the Free Software Foundation and the Pirate Party of Greece) to promote free software. Stallman’s response was immediate and positive. After the end of his speech there was an exchange of views and information on the implementation of the idea, while many of the listeners continued the discussion with the Pirates in a nearby bar.
Beers and discussion in the wake of the Panama Papers
On Saturday, April 16th, in the wake of the Panama Papers and the stunning rise of the electoral influence of the Icelandic Pirate party, Greek pirates thought it would be a good timing for a beer meeting. Pirates preferred to organize a relaxed and friendly meeting rather than a narrow political event with program and speakers. The turnout to their invitation was high. Members and friends of PPGR interested in the pirate movement, representatives from other parties, long time partners, even people that just passed by, all met up over beers and talked about the possibility of the first ever pirate government in the world.
“It was a wonderful night that gave pirates the opportunity to rekindle their relationship! To accomplish anything, you need to build relationships and interact with others, not only between the members but friends and supporters, too. You need to mobilise them, in a physical way or even their minds, attract their attention and inspire them to what you’re promoting.” – Penelope Petropoulou
Learning to cope with political reality inside and outside of PPGR
Penelope Petropoulou also told Pirate Times about what has been happening inside PPGR during the last few months, when they have gone through a tough period:
“We are not professional politicians and we don’t get paid for what we are doing. We are on a voluntary basis and in many ways we explore politics and experiment with it. Sometimes, because of the conditions, you need to lower speed, even stop the vehicle and get out of it to look around you and see where you are while you’re on solid ground!
There were very hard internal conflicts due to the differences of opinion, but now spirits have somehow calmed down, although still the misunderstandings have not been resolved! Anyway, the remaining active Greek Pirates have, with perseverance and patience, managed to deal with this unpleasant situation and overturned it. They had to cope with political reality inside and outside of PPGR. I think that the following 5th Congress in November will be rejuvenating for the future of the party.
When the engine of a car is turned off for a long time, it is very likely to not start when you need it, the same goes with politics! A political party has to be in a good condition, its gears need to be lubricated, its engine used regularly, otherwise it will grind to a halt.
PPGR structures a new political language, not a cliche language, but the one that makes it a stand-out party, in my opinion exceptionally well. Being stuck in crisis for 6 years, Greeks are really bored with politicians and the outdated language they use to justify their inability to find a way out of the miserable reality of the general public.
I watch other political parties in Greece, newly formed or traditional ones, that they adopt what Pirates have experienced and implement so far; transparency, participation of the citizens in decision making, direct democracy. Many parties include a digital agenda in their political programmes, but they can’t do much about it because they don’t know how to implement it.
The representative system has failed and we need equal participation in decision making! The pirate movement is a potentiality for the future that could win the public support. Many people in Greece want the end of the parties! And many pirates agree that a pirate party is a tool, a participation platform that fits any space! In fact, in the digital age we don’t need any leaders but active citizens to implement democracy!”