The Beautiful Truth: Why I Love Portes Magazine & Why You Should Attend the NHSA Beach Cleanup
In our world where the truth itself is under siege, the truth tellers stand out. Those who tell the facts as they are, and those who offer an opinion that does not disguise itself as fact, will provide synthesis (a favorite word of mine with a Greek origin), a worldview so beautiful and compelling it enters our vocabulary, and better yet, compels us to change the world.
Portes Magazine, founded by the savvy and sophisticated Mitrakos sisters, displays the beautiful, well-told truth about Greece. Launched in 2012, in the heat of Greece’s debt crisis, the publication wanted to steer the conversation back to all that’s right with the country in all its rich heritage and fascinating bridges between past and present, aiming at Greece’s far-flung English-speaking diaspora and beyond. Portes, an anglicization of the Greek word πόρτες, which means doors, follows its mantra of reporting on all that is “chic, Greek, [and] unique” to unlock a portal to the unexplored beauty of Greece, often hidden in plain sight like tucked-away island beaches.
A quick look at the publication reveals what a labor of love it is. The website teases and pleases the eye with its tasteful pastel colors interspersed with a cascade of familiar and fresh glimpses of Greece. At any moment, we may be learning about the great archaeological excavations that gave us the Charioteer at Delphi, or the mysteries of Greece’s unexplored quarters, ranging from the lesser known towns of central Greece to the ghost tales of the Athens First Cemetery. Suddenly, there’s a kylix! We are drawn into the stories of the great past, ranging from the secret life of ancient Greek coins to the stories painted on ceremonial vases and the breathtaking craftsmanship of the ancient mosaics.
Bee pollen and pistachio labneh, anyone? Adding to the sensory feast are mouth-watering food and dessert recipes, with ancient and modern twists, and showcases of Greek crafts ranging from fashion and jewellery to ceramics. The content and its approach is lean and efficient, anticipating the needs of the print and digital editions but also whimsical and inviting (I eagerly await the upcoming next edition, which the editors have been teasing for some time on social media). Portes achieves a deft and distinctive balance of print and digital in a landscape where publications battle for precious reader attention, subscribers, and advertising revenue.
Rounding out the content is the e-shop, where viewers are able to buy the print edition and other stylish merchandise, and make donations. There’s also a section of event reporting from around the Hellenic-American world, including activities that Portes specifically supports.
THE NHSA BEACH CLEANUP (AND WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN US THIS YEAR)
One activity in particular is the NHSA Beach Cleanup. Last year, the National Hellenic Student Association of America (which I wrote about in an earlier post), conducted a day-long cleanup of the Athens Beach of Saronida in July of last year. 50 volunteers from Greece and its diaspora gathered 792 pounds (more than 350 kg of trash) from the beach (including scuba divers who gathered the underwater debris), and we hope to be bigger and better at the cleanup this year in Marathon Beach on July 20th from 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM.
It is FREE to register, and your ticket includes bus transportation to the beach, lunch and a t-shirt!
With the environment so high on our minds these days, with Greece’s breathtaking beaches at stake, and with plastic in particular cited as a major cause of ocean damage around the world, even a small effort to clean up our beaches can make a big difference.