Solar Heating Panel Workshop in Greece

Petros said “Come to Greece”

First Impressions: Views from a Balcony in Thermaikos

Looking north toward Thessaloniki. The apartment walkway leads to a small road, across which is a sandy beach and the Aegean Sea. It’s a great place to cool down on hot days. This is the only of these photos that I took (used my laptop camera).

The same view at night, with Thessaloniki’s lights shining across the water.

Visible Progress

There was a fair amount of time spent meeting people and having one-on-one conversations to identify specific workshop interests and goals, sources of materials, and to bring me up to speed on the social conditions that motivated the workshop. I think I could probably fill volumes with the stories and lessons I learned – but there was no way to do that and take pictures.

The photos that follow show making parts (visible progress!) for the prototype panel to be constructed in the workshop.

Metric construction from inch drawings – Antonis & Morris

I have my panel web page and CAD drawings on my laptop and pulled up photos and/or drawings to answer most questions. That helped a lot to make up for my linguistic shortcomings! At far left Antonis’ wife is coming to offer iced coffee (bless her!)

Confirming measurements – Antonis & Morris

I have a photo of that to answer your question! – Antonis & Christos in the background.

More of the same folks...

A quick review of the materials list. Note the glass of life-saving iced coffee! – Antonis, Christos, and Petros

Doing what I did most (olive grove in background) – Morris

Hmm, materials list plywood discrepancy – Christos, Antonis, & Petros

Problem resolved. We can get more tomorrow – Same folks

Even Antonis’ dogs wanted to help.

Deciding an order of operations – Antonis, Petros, Christos

The primary toolset – saw, square, tape rule, and laptop

Time to look at pictures again – Christos & Morris

Setting up the saw – Antonis with Petros in the background

More canine help arrives...

Making a test cut – Antonis on the saw while Christos observes

After a small adjustment, another test cut

Discussing the mortise and tenon construction – Antonis & Morris

Verifying what we said – Christos translating for Antonis & Morris

One more test cut – Antonis & Christos

Bringing up the rest of the lumber – Christos, Morris, and Antonis

There it is – all the lumber for one eight-foot wide, or two four-foot panels.

It looked so good we got a second photo!

Let the production cutting begin!

No, wait. The plan had been to build a eight-foot panel, but that’s beginning to look like too much to accomplish in the time available. Maybe a four-foot prototype panel for the workshop, with a second four-footer to follow after...

Discussing changes to material lists – Morris & Petros

Discussing and agreeing on change impacts – Everyone

“Yes” to plan change. Re-checking the drawings

Antonis’ daughters came out to see what their dad is doing

At this point we all felt liked baked potatoes – Petros cools in the sun while Christos takes a phone call in the shade.

Christos is a pillar in the volunteer initiative and his phone stays busy all day.

Tne Next Day

The next day the parts we’d made and the remaining materials were taken to the community center in Peraia, we set up a construction area in the office, and put on a presentation to teach the whys and hows of the panel design and construction approach and to answer any and all questions anyone might have. In spite of me not speaking Greek, and a number of members not speaking English, our success exceeded my wildest hopes – with a lot of help from those who speak both languages. In thinking about the intensity of cooperative spirit later, I realized that our “Greek” project brought together people from five countries. Have a look...

The sign says ΑΝΕΞΑΡΤΗΤΗ ΠΡΩΤΟΒΟΥΛΙΑ ΠΟΛΙΤΩΝ ΔΗΜΟΥ ΘΕΡΜΑΤΚΟΥ which (I think) translates to “Independent Initiative Civil Municipality of Thermaikos”. In conversation it was always shortened to just “Πρωτοβουλια”. It took me a while to figure out than an underlined omicron was a stylized way of writing an omega...

I think all this stuff taped to the window tells about help available (like school supplies and kids’ clothing) and volunteer help needed. Christos’ normal (volunteer) “day job” appears to be matching up people and programs.

Opening up the Protovoulia office – Christos

These three tables in the back room are being commandeered to use as workbenches in the (not yet cleared) front room which has better ventilation. There isn’t any air conditioning (anywhere), so ventilation was important.

Did I mention that August in Greece is really hot? – Petros & Morris

Time for people to begin arriving so I set up screens with show-and-tell information, then put my laptop to sleep until needed.

People are arriving, and there are already a few you might recognize. I’m about to bog down on names – I met too many people in too short a time to retain as many as I would have wanted...

Waiting for a quorum and worrying about my linguistic deficiencies – and hoping that I hadn’t made a huge mistake in agreeing to teach a new technology to people whose language I didn’t speak. This is what I look like under stress.

A friendly face reminds me that we’ve cleared all the language hurdles so far.

Here we go – I’m being introduced to the group...

Making the presentation a paragraph at a time. The young lady on the right is the primary translator and, as far as I could tell, did a fantastic job. There were occasional difficulties with technical vocabulary with fill-in from others in the group.

One of the people who helped fill in the vocabulary gaps and helped the non-technical members of the group grasp the underlying thermodynamics – Dimitris

After the main presentation we switched to question and answer mode. I was stressed, hot, and exhausted and choked on the first question: why would I spend my own money to come to Thermaikos to teach them? I said the question had two answers: Americans are proud of their democracy, sometimes a little too proud, and we know where it originated. I told them that this American had decided that it was payback time. For the second part of the answer, I gave back the answer these people give when asked why they give so freely to refugee strangers flooding into Greece: Because “it’s the right thing to do.”

The poster behind me says “If this is struggle the future is ours.”

More Q and A. Having a copy of my web page with all the photos and diagrams helped a lot.

Somehow, all of everyone’s questions got answers they understood. When we finally called quits, I wasn’t sure that I could have done any better with an American group. I think most of the credit for that goes to the official translator and all of the unofficial translators.

The day following the presentation, we set out to finish making parts and “dry fitting” (assembly without glue to verify parts fitting properly). At this point the working group expanded to all interested members, and the work moved along a bit faster.

My Last Day in Greece
Celebrating Progress!

Final Prototype Assembly

This felt like a final exam for me (did I present well enough for the group to proceed independently?), and I’m happy to say that my they did a wonderful job – especially considering that some significant improvisation was needed to make the absorber fins! See for yourself...

I intend to add comments for each photo, but wanted to make this page available as quickly as possible. I can’t even begin to describe how proud I am of all these people – and I can’t resist mentioning that during this entire time, these same volunteers were collecting and distributing food and clothing and arranging medical care not only for their neighbors, but also to the flood of refugees passing through Thessaloniki and Thermaikos.

Copyright © 2015 Morris R Dovey

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