While some opt to spend the pandemic watching Netflix, Winters resident Alex Glaros opted to create a documentary. Not only is “The Icarian Fig Tree” a highlight of his Greek culture, it also provides a blueprint on how to reverse the unraveling of society.
In 1916, Glaros’ grandmother immigrated from the Greek island of Icaria with a branch from her fig tree. That grew into a large fig tree from which Glaros’ father took a branch and planted it on the first property he bought. When Glaros bought his first home, he repeated the tradition and propagated a branch from his father’s fig tree in his backyard. It’s this fig and family line that the documentary derives its title.
“It didn’t take too long to make. I wrote the script in one sitting and did the audio in one sitting. Editing took the longest, maybe a month or two to time everything just right,” Glaros explained. “Most of the footage is from Icaria. In the middle of making the documentary, I found some eight-millimeter film with me in it as a kid. So that’s where all the old footage comes from.”
The fig tree in the back of Glaros’ yard is a direct link to Icaria and his family’s culture. A culture rich in community and comprised of people living long and happy lives. This is largely due to their inclusivity and — as heavily emphasized by the documentary — long nights of dancing.
“Both grandparents came from Icaria. It’s welcoming, and they’re famous for living forever because they’re full of joy and life and that reinforces the parts of the script I was writing,” Glaros said talking about the vivacious Icarian culture. “The old footage I found shows how the dancing goes, and I think that adds to it all. The dancing emphasizes the community cohesion. The community comes together, and we do an awesome job here in Winters, but it could be even greater.”
As it’s no secret society has seen better days, this fact was also a contributing influence in Glaros’ decision to create the documentary. It emphasizes how the communal dancing creates a connection with all who join in. He said the best part is that there is no need for a partner, one simply hops in and becomes part of the whole. This act bolsters a oneness while simultaneously ridding a need for the term ‘others.’
“I see society unraveling and it’s tearing us all apart. I’m trying different ways to approach this problem,” said Glaros. “The oneness is the coolest part of the culture. It reaffirms the community cohesion, and it works like a charm. When dancing together, you can feel that metaphysical collective consciousness of the soul.”
In a time where people are finding any number of reasons to hate one another, Glaros maintains that the dancing transforms that hatred into compassion. To get a better idea of this culture, one can watch the “Icarian Fig Tree” for free on YouTube.
When a community is together, it can overcome any hardship — or differences — that come its way.