Austerity measures and Greece’s economic crisis have significantly reduced the operational capacity of Athens’ city government. To compound the problem, outdated regulations have stifled necessary reforms to make government work in leaner times, with trust between citizens and government eroding. At the same time, a vibrant civil society has emerged, with large numbers of citizens working together to improve their neighborhoods and communities. Still, there is no centralized platform to either coordinate volunteer efforts or enable the City to engage citizens around priority challenges. Furthermore, citizens’ activities are often restricted or even prohibited by outdated government regulations.
synAthina is an online platform to engage members of the community in problem-solving and reform. Individual citizens and groups can submit volunteer activities, as well as ideas on how to improve their city. Citizens who submit ideas are then connected to the relevant government representatives, non-governmental organizations, and private businesses that can support their efforts. If outdated regulations are needlessly prohibiting the advancement of good ideas, the synAthina project team will work with partners in City Hall to update those regulations, policies, or procedures.
Hundreds of new volunteer opportunities have been posted on synAthina. The synAthina project team is routinely working to identify where outdated regulations stifle citizen engagement. Against the backdrop of Greece’s economic collapse, the synAthina vision is moving forward.