Nancy Klampatsa is a Project Associate for the Commercial Triangle project. As a part of her work, she interviews business community members for “Humans of Trigono,” a historic and cultural preservation effort.
Athens Partnership: What makes the Commercial Triangle special?
Nancy Klampatsa: It’s a place with a strong sense of identity and history, a neighborhood with its own distinctive character, even though it’s part of the very center of Athens. In the course of interviews for “Humans of Trigono,” I am amazed to hear many fascinating stories that go back generations, and encapsulate the history of the center of Athens.
AP: Can this history be preserved while the area is being “revitalized”?
NK: This is one of the aims of the Commercial Triangle project: to revitalize the area, while maintaining, restoring, and showcasing its historical roots. We are recording the neighborhood’s history and highlighting it through cultural and community events, and making this history an integral part of the Commercial Triangle ‘brand.’ There is no other place in Athens where you can find traditional stores selling ribbons, cloth, and doorknobs, next to modern hotels and cafes. This is a treasure not only for tourists but for us Athenians too.
AP: What’s your favorite part about working at the Commercial Triangle program?
NK: It’s great to be able to immediately see the impact of our work in the neighborhood! As I leave our office, located in the heart of Trigono, I immediately see the results of our efforts – a wall that was vandalized and has now been restored, a new work of public art on display, new benches and LED lighting freshly installed. It is very rewarding!
AP: What does it take to change a neighborhood?
NK: I think building trust is key. Once you have a basis of trust, then all stakeholders can work towards a common goal. Residents and shopkeepers have gradually come to realize and value our project’s special role, as an intermediary between the municipal government, private sector donors and the neighborhood. They appreciate having a personal point of contact with whom they can voice their concerns. I think this project is really connecting all the necessary dots: the neighborhood, the Municipality, our donors and other partners. This idea, that the sum can be greater than its parts, is the underlying philosophy of all public-private projects coordinated by the Athens Partnership.