The pilot implementation of Transition to 8 is taking place in Eleusis, Greece, an industrial city located 23km from Athens, also holding the title of the 2023 European Capital of Culture. The three major social issues identified are: environmental degradation, unemployment, refugee/immigration crisis.

Eleusis differs radically from the stereotypical image of Greece as a country with beautiful beaches, where people are carefree and relaxed, and spend their lives enjoying the sun and sea. Eleusis is a reflection of an entirely overlooked - but at the same time very real - aspect of Greece: productive Greece. Some 30% of the country’s GDP is produced in Eleusis and the wider Thriasian Plain area, a percentage that is roughly equal to the national contribution of tourism to GDP. 

In the 1960s and 1970s, the city’s natural environment suffered major degradation due to pollution caused by industrial facilities operating in the area. For Greeks, the image of Eleusis is inextricably linked to industry and the destruction of the natural environment. Despite the fact that the city’s reality has changed radically since then, the stereotype of a city ruined by industry remains prominent in the public perception, discouraging people from visiting Eleusis and becoming acquainted with the significant cultural reserve currently at its disposal. 

Eleusis is located 20 km to the west of Athens and is one of the 5 municipalities belonging to the regional unit of Western Attica. Since the beginning of the 20th century, this geographical area has been a hub for the country’s industrial development, with dozens of polluting industries, such as 2 refineries, 2 shipyards, 2 steel factories, 2 cement factories and dozens of other industries in the secondary sector, of small or medium impact on the environment. Attica’s main landfill is located at the boundary of one of the municipalities; it is the largest in Greece and accommodates the urban waste of 4.5 million inhabitants. Eleusis is located on the coastal front of this area, a natural harbour that became a natural home for the concentration of industrial activity from the second half of the 20th century.

The city of Demeter - The goddess Demeter has been called the “most Greek of all deities”. She was connected with the growth of grains and sustained humanity with her benevolence and compassion. The myth of the abduction of her daughter, Persephone, represented an exuberant affirmation of hope in the face of merciless death. Her cult in Eleusis invited the initiates to personally experience a realm beyond the tangible reality of mortal life. The sacred rites proved singularly popular. Countless generations visited the sanctuary of Demeter, worshipped the “Earth Goddess”, and transformed Eleusis into the greatest sanctuary of the ancient world.

The first settlement of Eleusis was established in the Middle Bronze Age. It occupied the southern slopes of the hill where the sanctuary was later established. It was here, according to tradition, that the goddess Demeter arrived in search of her daughter Persephone who had been abducted by Pluto, the lord of the underworld. Demeter stopped to rest by the village well, where she was found by the daughters of King Keleus. They persuaded her to come to the palace where she found a position as a nurse to Demophon, the infant child of the king. Demeter decided to grant the child the gift of immortality, so every night she anointed him with ambrosia and placed him in the fire of the hearth. When the ritual was discovered by the child's mother, Demeter revealed her true identity and ordered the people of Eleusis to build a temple and an altar for her below the citadel, where she received her daughter Persephone when the gods ordered Pluto to release her.

In her great joy, Demeter instructed the people of Eleusis in the performance of her sacred rites, and
established a tradition that survived until the end of the ancient world. The cult of Demeter was open only to the chosen few who had been initiated following the ritual prescribed by the goddess when she resided at the palace of King Keleus. The cult was originally local, but it gradually spread beyond the Thriasian Plain to become a Panhellenic institution. When Greece was conquered by the Romans, the Eleusinian Mysteries grew even more in popularity and attracted pilgrims from all over the Roman world.


The transformation of Eleusis into Mordor is (without a doubt) one of the greatest environmental crimes of the 20th century. Within a few decades, the lush orchard of the goddess Demeter was overrun by heavy industries that poisoned the air, obliterated historic hills and fertile fields, and buried the seafloor under countless tonnes of poisonous sediment.
All that happened despite the protests of local residents who watched helplessly as their city and their livelihoods were destroyed. The environmental history of Eleusis is a valuable (and unforgettable) example of human absurdity and the tragic mistakes that exemplify the twentieth century.

In the late 19th century the Thriasian Plain (the geographical area where Eleusis is located) enchanted all visitors. Each spring, daisies and almond trees in bloom turned the fields into an earthly paradise. The verdant mountain slopes charmed foreign dignitaries who toured the archaeological site of Eleusis. The beaches of the Saronic Gulf made train passengers hang from the wagon windows in wonder. According to the French novelist Gustave Flaubert, the sky was remarkably clear, the air had a pale blue colour, and the open country had an intense green colour that made olive trees stand out. The fields retained their age-old fertility and yielded abundant quantities of wheat, corn, olive oil, and wine.

A century later, in 1982, another French writer, Jacques Lacarrière, wrote that “Eleusis, today, is a tanker, beams, scrap metal, dying cargoes, a cemetery for strangled mermaids, Nereids buried in low-quality fuel oil. In Eleusis, I saw a woman watering her bougainvillaea plants on her balcony and purifying the future. I saw flowers blooming on infertile days. In Eleusis, I saw the campaign of the true future against the false present”.

The earliest factories were built in the late 19th century. They were small enterprises that took advantage of local resources. Gradually, though, heavy industries (cement, oil processing, chemicals etc.) were added to the mix and left their fatal footprint. In the postwar period (60s-70s), Eleusis was surrounded by two refineries, two steel factories, two shipyards, three cement factories and 700 more small and large industries. Houses and businesses covered approximately 134 acres, while industries occupied more than 590 acres! A committee was formed in 1972 to study the city’s relocation to make more room available near the sanctuary of Demeter for additional factories.

In the early 1980s, the levels of suspended particulate matter in the air were seven times higher than the values considered acceptable by the World Health Organization. Sulfur dioxide emissions had more than doubled in three years (1980-1983) as a result of the uncontrolled use of leaded fuel, at a time when rigorous measures in Athens forced industries to adopt desulphurized fuel (resulting in a 15-fold reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions). The marble surface of monuments and statues in the archaeological site deteriorated gradually from a poisonous concentration of iron and manganese that fell from the sky.

Employing a specific methodology designated by sociopsychologists and computer researchers, community members participate in sociodrama sessions, where wearable sensors register bodily and emotional reactions to specific social issues. The collected biometric data become frequencies, texts and audiovisual material, which, in turn, are given to artists as raw material for the creation of artworks. 

Electronic music and digital artists, sensitised on social matters, extract and utilise the data located in the interactive platform to create original digital art and electronic music pieces.

The produced artworks will then be presented at a showcase context. What will be the effect of the artworks? Could they offer a liberating or even redemptive way to deal with the social issues at hand? Could they be suggestive of a more demanding stance on areas where the stakes are high?


For each of the three social themes, 8 sub-themes (“axes”) have been identified. Each axis acts as a digital moodboard including multimedia elements such as: sonifications and visualisations of biometric data, images, phrases, data,  midi files and other elements.