On Wednesday 23rd of November 2011, MedWet, the French Institute of Greece and the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival organized a tribute to “Man, Wetlands and Water”. This innovative collaboration succeeded in bringing together environmental and anthropological issues while at the same time proving their inextricable link. The event consisted of a morning session addressed to school children and an evening session addressed to the general public.
The morning activity saw the participation of two hundred high school students from various schools of Athens. It was designed to inform students on the functions, values and importance of wetlands and then consolidate their knowledge through an interactive environmental education game, implemented in collaboration with the Hellenic Ornithological Society. Then, a short presentation on the value of ethnographic films was made and the students watched the classic French film from 1953 ‘White Mane’, which takes place in the Camargue and tells the story of a young boy that tames a wild white stallion. In parallel the teachers had the opportunity to get informed by MedWet on the interactive, Role Playing Game developed by the Secretariat on environmental education through a wetland management scenario.
The evening session consisted of two presentations and the screening of two ethnographic films centered on wetlands, people and water management in the Mediterranean. Aphrodite Sorotou from the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (Med-INA) explained the bond between Man and water and in particular wetlands, noting the difference between sustainable and non sustainable ways of using them. The audience then got the chance to listen to the creator of the first film that was screened “Traditional water management by the indigenous population of the Stromi village” set in Greece around the Mornos basin, a particularly water rich area. The film discussed the traditional water management techniques, the current situation as well as the myths and legends surrounding the water sources of the area. Also present was the President of the Cultural Centre of the village Stromi who noted the value of this film in highlighting and recording the habits, legends and traditions of this region and in raising awareness and mobilizing the locals on the issue of water and their own cultural heritage. Finally, the Italian ethnographic documentary produced by Rossela Schillaci «She River: Meetings around the river Po,” was screened. This film connects the path of the River Po, one of the largest rivers of Italy with the lives of the inhabitants of small villages around it, describing the traditions and legends, their life stories, their relationship with the river and the changes that have occurred due to human interference and pollution.