ΨΗΦΙΑΚΟ ΜΟΥΣΕΙΟ ΒΛΑΧΟΚΕΡΑΣΙΑΣ

The village of Vlahokerasia is located about 20 km south of the capital of Arcadia, Tripolis, and three kilometers from the national road that leads to the capital of Laconia, ancient Sparta. In accordance with the 2011 census, Vlahokerasia had 424 residents. In 1928, its population was 1600 residents. During the 1928-2011 period, there was a reduction of 80%. Undoubtedly, the principal factor accounting for this reduction was urbanization within the country and emigration to the overseas countries. A “census” of all Vlahokerasiotes, abroad and in Greece (1988-1992), conducted under the aegis of the Attica Vlahokerasiotes Association recorded 3,742 Vlahokerasiotes, of whom 42% lived in the Attica region (Athens Metropolitan Area), 20% abroad (U.S., Australia, and Canada), 20% in other towns and cities of Greece and 17% in the village of Vlahokerasia. The residents of Vlahokerasia were mainly senior citizens since the younger generation had taken the road of migration, either for abroad or for other cities within the country. As a result, there followed a shrinking of agricultural activities, traditional businesses and enrollments in the school of Vlahokerasia

In 1991, and in the context of the Vlahokerasiotes Association of Attica, was born the idea to create a Folk Museum in Vlahokerasia, with the ultimate purpose to contribute to the further cultural and economic development of our village. There followed a house-to-house field research by the undersigned and Angelos Bistolas to record the potential items (e.g., plows, hand looms, traditional apparel etc.) for inclusion in the folk museum. The census showed that there was available sufficient material. Unfortunately, at the time there were no buildings to house the folk collection, and the project was postponed. In 2011, 20 years later, two houses had been donated to the Community of Vlahokerasia and could be used for the purposes of a folk museum. The idea of creating an actual folk museum was revived, and a committee of Vlahokerasiotes, permanent residents of the village or Athens, was set up to implement the original idea. Prerequisite, however, was the availability of the folk materials recorded in 1991. With the help of Angeliki Katsafanas and Maria Kopitas we carried out (by telephone) a confirmation survey. Our expectations were not confirmed; most of our compatriots had discarded the folk items. The idea of creating an actual folk museum came to an end. We concluded that it would be best to create a digital museum – the Vlahokerasia Digital Museum (VDM), considering also the costs of refurbishment of the available buildings as well as the costs of maintenance, security and operation of an actual museum. Our new immediate and practical aim became the collection and digitalization of materials (photographs, historical documents, publications, narratives, video clips etc.) that would depict over time the activities of Vlahokerasiotes – at home and abroad. 

 

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The Vlahokerasia Digital Museum Committee during a meeting at the offices of the Municipal Area of Skiritida (Vlahokerasia). Sitting, from the left, are Efstathios Chronis, Angelos Bistolas, Nikos Petropoulos and Anna Martinou. Standing, from the left, are Maria Kopitas and Aggeliki (Kiki) Katsafanas. Vlahokerasia, 21 August 2015. Missing from the picture is Angelike Kontogiannis (Contis), the 7th member of the Committee, omogenis from Vermont, New England, U.S.A. (Source of photo: Eleni Haritos, wife of Nikos D. Haritos, omogenis from Chicago).

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The Vlahokerasia Digital Museum Committee during a meeting at the offices of the Municipal Area of Skiritida (Vlahokerasia). From the lef, are Angelos Bistolas, Aggeliki (Kiki) Katsafanas, Nikos Petropoulos, Angelike Contogiannis (Contis) and Anna Martinou. Vlahokerasia, 13 August 2016. Missing from the picture are Efstathios Chronis and Maria Kopitas (See above) (Source of photo: Angelike Contis).

The collection of the materials did not start from scratch. Most of the members of the Committee had materials in their possession, either because they had been elected members of the board of an association (Angelos Bistolas as President of the Vlahokerasiotes Association of Attica, Maria Kopitas as President of the Vlahokerasia Cultural Association), or because they had played an active role as organizers of extra-curricular activities in the Junior H.S. of Vlahokerasia (Angeliki Katsafanas), or because they had created their own personal archives (Stathis Chronis), and, finally, because as part of the diaspora (Nikos Petropoulos and Angelike Contis/Kontogiannis) had recorded with their movie/video cameras various activities of Vlahokerasiotes during their summer visits to Vlahokerasia. These materials became the “seed capital” of the project; however, these were not sufficient nor were they representative of all the Vlahokerasiotes, at home and abroad, during various periods of their lives. So we publicized our project and its aims, posted it on the website of the Municipality of Tripolis, advertized it in the village newspaper (“The Voice of Vlahokerasia”) and posted a summary announcement of it in public places (community services, cafes and taverns) which attracted villagers. Then the two members of our Committee and permanent residents of Vlahokerasia (Kiki Katsafanas and Maria Kopitas) followed up with visits to families to collect materials. The materials were, in turn, converted to digital form by scanning, photographing them with a digital camera, or computer-processing them [in case of live interviews]. In addition to the materials of the committee members and those that we collected from the families, the collection was enriched by the taking of new photographs and video-clips by all Committee members. In all cases, we make a reference to the source of the materials.

The digitalized materials were in turn forwarded to the Coordinator of the Committee, Nikos Petropoulos, for further processing. The materials were incorporated in a central power-point file and were simultaneously distributed in several homogeneous categories. Hyperlinks with the photo materials in the central PP file were created; these consisted of historical documents, private folklore collections, scientific publications, literary/artistic works, biographies, narratives, recipes for traditional foods/products, film/video-clips, photo albums[1]. In addition, bilingual photo captions (Greek and English)[2] were composed by the Coordinator and accompanied the photos in the central PP file. These captions included information about the identity of the persons depicted in the photos, date the photo was taken, the occasion depicted and instructions for activating the hyperlinks.

The materials were initially distributed in thematic units although there was no attempt to group the thematic categories into fewer categories. Within the thematic categories (i.e. the sub-categories), the materials were organized by content and chronological order, so that the users can form a dynamic conception of the subject under consideration. For each one of the thematic categories, the Coordinator wrote an introductory text (in Greek and English), where we acknowledge the contributors to the introduction, make a summary of the content, describe the relevant hyperlinks and point out the gaps in materials. The introductions were copied to all the members of the Committee for substantive comments/observations and simultaneously sent to Anna Martinou for editing[3].

A significant part of VDM is the monograph (in Greek) by Anegelos Bistolas, Anna Martinou, Kostas Krekouzos and Nikos Petropoulos, whose content cross-cuts most of the thematic units. It includes (a) an anthology of historical events from antiquity until today (2) demographic and public administration changes[4] (3) folklore elements (4) a glossary of local vernacular and (5) corresponding annexes. The visitor can access the monograph (flipping book) by activating the relevant submenu category “historical, demographic, and folklore elements” of the menu category: “History-Traditions”.

Following the completion of the collection, the classification, the processing and editing of the materials, the time was ripe for the implementation of the first phase of the project ― by posting of the materials on the internet[5]. Thus, the Coordinator of the Committee had a meeting with our specialist[6] whom we had selected to design our website. Several models for the presentation of the Vlahokerasia Digital Museum materials in the internet were taken into consideration. The specialist recommended to us that we adopt the “JOOMLA –TRAVEL model, with the basic menu categories on the horizontal, the sub-categories (our thematic units) on the vertical, with an incorporated “flipping book” that will contain the VDM materials by thematic unit. Every thematic category will constitute a flipping book regardless of the number of pages. The model, its advantages and a demonstration, were in turn presented to the members of the Committee at a meeting held in the Community offices during the Easter break (2016). The members of the Committee decided unanimously to accept the recommended model, which allows for projection on the visitor’s monitor and the immediate access to the flipping books (thematic categories), incorporates hyperlinks, has a potential for internal search, is a familiar to all model and above all is user-friendly.

Upon a suggestion by our web designer, the Committee decided to create two website pages, for Greek and English, even though most of the hyperlinked materials are in Greek. The two webpages will differ only with regard to the captions and the introductions to thematic units which have been translated into the two languages. The hyperlinked materials (e.g. CVs, narratives, historical documents, video clips, etc. ) are in the language of the author/producer, which is mainly Greek. Exceptions constitute the scientists and the omogeneis (Vlahokerasiotes abroad) who may have submitted their work and/or their CVs in the English language. The Commitee plans to have Greek-language CVs translated into ELngish for the English page and English-language CVs tranlated into Greek for the Greek page, especially in the following thematic categories: the popular arts; business in the village; science letters and the arts; medical sciences and applications; politics and justice; and business abroad. The hyperlinked Greek materials (e.g. narratives) in the English webpage could constitute an object for practical exercises (translation) for students enrolled in Greek or English language courses.    

During the same meeting, the Committee discussed alternative domain names for the website. All the members present agreed that the word “Vlahokerasia” should be an integral part of the electronic address. The Committee decided to use the domain name “VDM-Vlahokerasia”and took the necessary steps through our web designer to register the following domain: vdm-vlahokerasia.gr. The domain is hosted by a server which is managed by our web-designer and is accessible in the following internet address: http://www.vdm-vlahokerasia.gr and/or http://vdm-vlahokerasia.gr.

For the needs of the website, the initial thematic categories were restructured and grouped, having as a goal a more logical presentation. Thus, the final digital materials were grouped into six basic categories and 31 sub-categories (or thematic units)[7] (See Table). The basic categories constitute the menu and the subcategories the sub-menu of the website. Each subcategory corresponds to a flipping book and every page of the flipping book contains one or two photographs, the English captions and the hyperlinks; the hyperlinks are either “internal” links which are hosted in our server[8] or “external’ links with other websites and the YouTube. The last two columns of the table show the total number of photographs in each flipping book and the number of relevant hyperlinks following the captions[9].

Thematic Categories Number of photos[10] Number of slides with hyperlinks[11]
GENERAL INTRODUCTION 1          9
VIEWS – ENVIRONMENT           
 1. Views of Vlahokerasia, neighborhoods and houses 153          14[12]
 2. The Skiritida Forest and the Vlahokerasia Trekking Trail 35 5
HISTORY – DEMOGRAPHY -TRADITIONS
 1. Vlahokerasia: History. demography and folklore 30 120
 2. The Male Birth Records of the Municpality of Manthyrea (1846-1878) 1 1
 3. Vlahokerasiotes in the struggles for the Motherland 47 38
 4. The cycle of life (marriage, baptism, death) 40 6
 5. Our pastas, breads and cakes 23 11
 6. The washing of clothes 12 6
 7 Vlahokerasiotes with traditional dress        18 4
 8. Vlahokerasiotes and the popular arts 12 15
ECONOMY – PRODUCTION
 1. Fruit tree cultivation and native plants 44 5
 2. The water supply for our village 30 10
 3. Our irrigated fields at the sources of Evrotas 13 4
 4. Our vineyards and the cycle of wine-making 16 11
 5. The cycle of grain cultivation 22 13
 6. The livestock cycle 41 16
 7. Our winter settlements 44 10
 8. Businesses, services, and other occupations in Vlahokerasia 79 25
 9. Other Occupations, hobbies and games of Vlahokerasiotes 37 6
ORGANIZATIONS - SOLIDARITY
 1. Churches, country churches and fairs 63 22
 2. Community and municipal activities 57 13
 3. The school of Vlahokerasia                79 24
 4. The Vlahokerasiotes Association of Attica–History and Activities

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14

 5. Electronic Press Archives of Angelos Bistolas 6 5
 6. Associations with the seat in Vlahokerasia 25 8
 7. Activities of Vlahokerasiotes Omοgeneis 59 19
 8. Benefactors of Vlahokerasia 21 16
OCCUPATIONS BEYOND VLAHOKERASIA
 1. Τhe sciences, letters and arts 31 20
 2. Μedical sciences and applications 14 10
 3. Politics and the justice system 12 9
 4. Businesspersons and entrepreneurs 9 8
Total 1116 500

In the thematic unit on the Skiritida Forest, we make reference to the flora and the fauna of the Forest. The flowers which grow within the village, either on their own or as a result of resident care, theoretically could comprise a separate thematic unit of the VDM. Instead, we decided to intersperse photos of them between neighborhoods or thematic units. The relevant photographs were taken in the past few years either by Angelos Bistolas, the undersigned and Vasilis Karagiannis and are not accompanied by the usual identification information (e.g. name of flower, year the photo was taken, source of photo, and location of flower) that accompanies the captions of other photographs. However, we are certain that the compatriots who care for these flowers will recognize them. We can only thank and congratulate them for their care of these flowers, their contribution to making our village more beautiful and for enriching the VDM collection.

 The Committee for the Vlahokerasia Digital Museum worked assiduously so that the materials in the collection would be inclusive, representative, impartial and accurate as regards the identification of the materials, the formulation of texts, and our compatriots. However, we consider the present project/collection as an open system that can be supplemented, enriched, expanded and corrected. For example, the materials in the last category (“Occupations beyond Vlahokerasia”) are indicative and not exhaustive. Our aim is the specific material to constitute a model for new material in these categories. We are convinced that among the Vlahokerasiotes (at home and abroad, living or dead), we have many more compatriots, who have made their mark in their fields and society and could become part of this collection. We invite our compatriots to send us new materials on these categories but also in all the categories that we have gaps. We call for materials, especially of folklore significance, that will make our collection more inclusive and representative. We welcome the active participation of all in the further development and enrichment of the Vlahokerasia Digital Museum. Finally, we invite our compatriots who detect any errors in the identification of persons or in the various texts, to inform us in order for us to correct them.

From the outset, it is necessary to note that the present cultural project is a non-profit undertaking and is not subsidized by any community, municipal, public or European agency. The members of the Committee worked voluntarily and without any material remuneration; the costs incurred up to now, for photographing, digitalization, word-processing, and research (communication), were borne by the members of the Committee themselves. During the second phase of the project (i.e. to set it up in a physical space), which we expect to be more costly, the Committee intends to seek subsidization from a community development program following submission of a proposal. We hope and expect that our efforts will be and that our project will contribute to the fulfillment of our initial aims which are none other than the reinforcement of self-knowledge, cultural identity and pride for our place of descent, the Greek language and the revitalization of the local economy.

In closing, we would first like to thank the many compatriots and friends who put at our disposal the priceless materials from their family and personal archives, who with their narratives shared with us their memories and their experiences of historical places, events, significant persons and their recipes for traditional products. Their contributions are acknowledged in our collection[13]. Second, our compatriots among which are Christos Mandros, Lefteris Sourlas, Voula Kontogiannis, Stefanos Sotos, Dimitra Chronis, Petros Sarantakis and Ilias Petropoulos, who helped us, either with their suggestions for new sources of materials or with the identification of persons, places and houses or with the cross-validation of data relevant to the materials. Third, our compatriots, Christos Petropoulos and Vasilis Karatzas. for their contribution to the budget of the V. D. M. Fourth, all those who contributed to the promotion of our project: the Municipality of Tripolis for hosting our first announcement in its website, the businesses of Vlahokerasia for posting the announcement in their establishments, “The Voice of Vlahokerasia” for the continuous coverage of the project progress. Fifth, the “National Herald” of New York for the extensive coverage of our project and the call for additional materials from our compatriots abroad. Finally, the Municipal Unit of Skiritida and the President of the Local Council, Athanasios Meletis for the meetings of the VDM Committee.

The Coordinator

Nikos Petropoulos, Ph.D. Sociology, University Professor (U.S.) and Counselor of the Pedagogical Institute (Greece), Athens (Nikos P. Petropoulos.docx)

Members of the Committee

Angelos Bistolas (Member), Elementary School Teacher, Athens (Angelos E. Bistolas.docx)

Efstathios Chronis (Member), Military Veterinarian, Microbiologist, Food Hygienologist, Alexandria, Imathia (Efstathios N. Chronis.docx).

Angeliki Katsafanas (Member), Greek Language Teacher, Secondary Education, Vlahokerasia, Arcadia (Aggeliki Katsafanas.docx).

Angelike Kontogiannis (Contis) (member), Executive Director, Mt. Mansfield Community TV, Jericho, Vermont (U.S.) (Angelike Contis.docx).

Maria Kopitas (Member), Greek Language Teacher (Alternate), Secondary Education, Vlahokerasia, Arcadia (Maria V. Kopitas.docx).

Anna Martinou Bistolas (Member), English and Greek Language Teacher, Secondary Education, Educational Counselor, Athens (Anna Martinou.docx).


[1] A special reference needs to be made to the archival materials (1984-2010) that Angelos Bistolas granted to the VDM and involves the newspaper, “The Voice of our Village”, organ of the “Vlahokerasiotes Association of Attica – the Prophet Ilias”. The materials were digitalized by Angelos and were used in the form of hyperlinks for the further documentation of various thematic units.

[2] Translation into English is restricted to the photo captions and the introductions to the thematic units. The texts accompanying the hyperlinks are mainly in Greek. Exceptions constitute the biographical sketches and the publications of omogeneis. Omogeneis who teach the Greek language could use the non-translated hyperlinked texts for exercising in the Greek language. The translation of the photo captions and the introductions into English was done by Nikos P. Petropoulos and reviewed by Anna Martinou-Bistolas, specialist in the teaching of the English Language and Literature as a foreign language and an active member of the Committee. It is necessary to point out that the translation of folklore terminology is not an easy task. The coordinator used the bilingual dictionaries of D.N. Stavropoulos (Oxford Greek-English Learner’s Dictionary, 1988) and D.N. Stavropoulos & A.S. Hornby (Oxford English-Greek Learner’s Dictionary, 1977), as well as the Google translation facility, and cross-validated the English terms with Webster’s Second College Edition, New World Dictionary (World Publishing Co., 1972). Nonetheless, the Committee is open to suggestions for improvements.

[3] Anna’s editorial work was not restricted to the introductions to the thematic units. She also edited all the bilingual captions and the largest part of the original materials-the object of hyperlinks (e.g. CVs, narratives etc.). A special thanks to Anna Martinou for her meticulousness, conscientiousness and credibility. I would also like to point out that many of our long-drawn meetings which had as an object of work, linguistic editing, took place at Angelos’ and Anna’s house in Athens and the village, using all the modern means of technology.

[4] This part also includes a presentation and discussion of the various theories for the village’s name.

[5] During the second phase, which will follow the posting in the internet, our plan is to install the VDM in a public place in the village (preferably in a vacant Junior H.S. room) in order to make it accessible to the local population, especially to those, who do not have access to the internet and for organized visits. This physical space will require renovation and should satisfy certain preconditions; It should (1) host some actual materials of the local community (e.g. plows, cycles, etc.) which will be donated by our compatriots; (b) be furnished with about 30 seats for educational tours/presentations; (3) have an appropriate infrastructure (e.g. computer, projector, screen etc.) for local projections; and (4) provide for the employment of one person for the operation of the VDM.

[6] Mr. Dimitris Morris, Director of DWX Sound & Media (http://www.digiworx.gr) who keeps the personal account (https://www.facebook.com/dimitrismorris).

[7] The 31 sub-categories (“thematic units”), that correspond to 31 flipping books, are accompanied by 28 more or less extensive introductions that are linked to the respective flipping books. Among the 28 introductions is a common introduction for the menu category “Occupations beyond Vlahokerasia” with links to four flipping books.

[8] Most of the files in the initial “Vlahokerasia Documents” folder were named using the author’s name/surname and code words for the content. For some of them (e.g. CVs), the full name (first name and surname) was used, while for other files we used only the initials of the first name and the surname. The use of initials was done in order to avoid long file names. In cases two authors in the VDM had the same first name and surname, we used the initial of the father’s first name (as middle name) to avoid confusion.

[9] All the film and video-clips that we had stored in our own folder (“Vlahokerasia Clips”) were stored in the YouTube for purposes of economy, upon a suggestion by our specialist in webpage design.

[10] Each page of the flipping book may include one or more photos and does not include photos in the linked documents, the annexes of the A. Bistolas et al. monograph or those in the A. Bistolas scanned press archives.

[11] The number includes the hyperlinks which accompany the photo captions, those in the main body of the A. Bistolas et al. monograph, but not those incorporated in linked documents (e. g. CVs).

[12]Among these hyperlinks are also included three “loci of folklore attraction” – houses with private collections with actual materials used by the house owner’s ancestors-craftsmen or generally by village farmers.

[13] Nonetheless, it is incumbent up us to point out that all signed texts express the views of the author (authors) and not necessarily those of the members of the Vlahokerasia Digital Museum Committee. 

Χάρτης / Map