Last week we have had the amazing opportunity to host Seamus O’ Tuama in class through skype and discuss life long learning in Cork with him. Seamus is the director of the ACE program in Cork (Adult Continuing Education) one of the twelve cities worldwide to have been awarded by UNESCO for their extremely well organized initiatives toward life long learning. Cork’s example is the existing proof that communities can come together through learning to enhance their interrelations, cultivate new types of collaboration and contribute to the formation of a new societal status where everyone is invited contribute to the common good and actively participate regardless of age or gender. What was even more interesting was that in terms of space, this all started in libraries.
Today I was going through P2PU’s activities and bumped into these news. I found out that P2PU has launched the Learning Circles Project which is in fact very similar to Cork’s approach in principle. According to the article, people are welcome to join in 6-8 week learning activities in Chicago’s libraries learning together in person, online.
Back to Greece. Experience with public libraries has been scarce apart from this. In a small city in the Northern part of the country, Veria, there exists a library unlike any other in Greece. This library has been involved in numerous learning activities engaging the whole of the city’s population. It has never seized to transform itself and provide Veria with a series of open-to-all learning activities .
While waiting for the opening of the new grandiose National Library in Athens, I can’t help but wonder whether these small cells of community interaction could in fact provide us here in Greece with a spatial remedy for getting to know each other and working with the community in a learning framework. Cork’s experience shows that the power of bringing the people close together can be beneficial even to the economy and help create those disruptive alliances that can change things from within. Food for thought.