Chapter

Grassroots community organising in a post-disaster context: lessons for social work education from Ilias, Greece

Maria Pentaraki

in Social work in extremis

Published by Policy Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9781847427182
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303558 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847427182.003.0004
Grassroots community organising in a post-disaster context: lessons for social work education from Ilias, Greece

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On August 24, 2007, a forest fire struck the province of Ilias, a predominantly rural and semi-rural area in the Peloponnesus region of Greece. The fire killed 67 people and affected 5,392 others. It was considered the worst ‘natural disaster’ in Greece during the period 2001–2010. The economic damage was estimated to be about US $1,750,000,000; the environmental degradation was enormous. This chapter explores the immediate aftermath of the fires, the government response and the development of a grassroots network of community activists who campaigned for both compensation and the defence of their own and public lands against property developers. It considers testimony from farmers and activists and then outlines a social work student project initiated by the author at her previous higher education institution, TEI Patras, which involved senior social work students working in fire-affected communities and organising with the community to raise awareness about its situation. The chapter suggests that the educational project offers valuable insight for engaged social work in post-disaster situations, and, more broadly, for a grassroots community organising social work practice.

Keywords: Greece; forest fire; natural disaster; social work; TEI Patras; community activists; public lands; farmers; grassroots community organising

Chapter.  5959 words. 

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