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Video
CSA is Growing Big in the Netherlands!

By Klarien Klingen, Dutch CSA Farmer

CSA is growing big in the Netherlands! Five years ago there were only five initiatives, now there are over 90. In Flanders part of Belgium, where the same language is used as the Netherlands, the CSA network is a bit more advanced: their formal association has been existing for several years now and many CSA initiatives as well. 170 Dutch and Flemish CSA farmers and members met for the yearly CSA meeting in Deventer, NL, on the 11th and 12th of January 2020.

When we sat over dinner we discovered that the Flanders people find it very usual to ask a membership fee of 350euros per person per year to participate in a CSA initiative, where the dutch think €250 is normal. It’s just great to be able to discover those differences, speculate on where they come from (is the climate different 300 kms more north? Is that why the Flanders people can produce more veggies throughout winter?), and learn from each other.

The topic of membership fee came up several times through the weekend. It was very new for the participants of the workshop ‘CSA and solidarity’ to hear about ‘the Freiburg’ model where members put the price they’re willing to pay on a note, everything is added up, and if the total sum is not enough to cover the total costs of production (including labor!), another round will follow.

In the same workshop a new idea was presented: what if we ask members to pay for one week of vegetables the money they make in 1 hour. This could provide a whole new way of looking at pricing: the money is not related to vegetables but to labor. And the price people have to pay is very much adapted to their own capacity to pay. Let’s see where this will go.

Land is a big topic in the Netherlands, where a piece of arable land costs on average €100.000 per hectare to buy. This makes it very difficult to pay for with normal primary production. CSA can offer better opportunities of course, but to build up soil and to build up a network of members long term access to land is a prerequisite. One of the farmers of the plenary session finds it unjust is people make money over land, just by owning it. He believes money should be made over labor and not over ownership. With a group of people he bought land and together they now work on how to formalize this land free from profit.

CSA Netherlands/Flanders is a vibrant community that is developing fast and enthusiastically. We can’t wait to meet CSA initiatives to together learn and together work on our common dream: food sovereignty for all!

National CSA Meeting in Norway

The CSA movement in Norway is growing larger year by year. As per December 2019 there are 82 active CSAs in Norway. Given that Norway is a small country with only around 5,3 million inhabitants and around 3 % of the land area being suitable for agriculture, the number of CSAs is relatively high compared to our neighbouring countries. Each year the informal network gathers to get the latest update on the CSA model in Norway and to learn and be inspired by best practices from each other.

Yearly meeting on November 15th in Oslo

The most important event for CSAs in Norway is the national meeting organised by Organic Norway, coordinating the informal network of CSAs. In total 60 people were gathered for inspiration, updates, new knowledge and networking. In total 21 of the CSAs where represented, often with 2-3 persons from each CSA. Most Norwegian CSAs produce vegetables, but a few also have meat and dairy production. 4.300 shares were sold at Norwegian CSAs in 2018, with almost 9500 people eating from those shares.

On the agenda

The day started with greetings from the two farmer unions organizing all farmers in Norway. The head of the small-scale farmers’ union said: “CSAs are good arenas for knowledge building for consumers who are concerned about food production, where the food comes from and how much work which is required to succeed with food production! These consumers represent an important alliance for us working in agriculture”.

Other topics being discussed was how to secure a sustainable economy, and how to work with recruiting members to CSAs and how to succeed with communication within the CSA. There was also talks about two recent research projects and information about ongoing work on how to involve dairy- and meat production in the CSA model.

Networking and experience sharing

There is a wide range of different CSAs in Norway, but there is always a lot to learn from each other. Many Norwegian CSAs are consumer-organized and hire a gardener for vegetable production in or near cities, whereas others are based around an already-existing traditional farm with large-scale production combined with a small number of shareholders. Others have developed their farm into a marked garden growing a variety of crops and having consumers taking part of sharing the risk. It is always very useful to work in groups and exchange practices and ideas during the national network meeting. After the formal program, most of the participants joined for organic vegetarian pizza and continued socializing through the evening.

(Front picture: Group work, discussing communication strategies in Norwegian CSAs. Photo Credit: Organic Norway)

Article from Urgenci, by Alexandra Devik, Organic Norway

A retrospective of the seminar “Building a Solidarity Economy!”

Organised thanks to the support of the Foundation for the Progress of Humankind and the APES, at the Bergerie de Villarceaux from 2 to 4 December 2019, the seminar “Co-constructing the Solidarity Economy! “was an opportunity for the members of the Mouvement pour l’Economie Solidaire (MES France) to launch the first steps of the cooperation action plan around the four national cooperative projects at the heart of the ambitions of the Mouvement pour l’Economie Solidaire for the next three years. The working sessions alternated workshops and round tables on the 4 axes :

  • Social and citizen innovation at the service of territorial development to pool the tools and methods acquired by the members in their participation in territorialized economic development experiences within a space of shared and formative resources allowing systemic reflection on the subject.
  • The evaluation of social utility and social impact in order to establish evaluation as a subject of internal and external democracy within an organization and to integrate it into a continuous improvement process of practices by taking into account market and non-market criteria and the accessibility of existing tools and methods within a space of shared resources.
  • Socio-economic models of small SSE enterprises and organisations to support the creation and development of initiatives in rural and urban territories by establishing a panorama of good practices for the creation and consolidation of small SSE organisations and making accessible the methods and tools that promote the sustainability of their economic models at the territorial level.
  • Strengthen advocacy through the implementation of a communication and action strategy shared and collective between the MES and the member structures around what the national movement defends and its specificity within SSE in order to build collectively its contribution to the national and international SSE work.

These collective working times reinforce the cohesion of the network by reassuring its members in their strategic orientations and ethical foundations and in return give energy to the animators of the national network confronted with a context of hardening of the political authorities with regard to the citizens’ initiative. The meeting was also an opportunity to inform the participants about the WSFTE and to invite them to take part in it. The document resulting from this seminar will soon be available on the MES website.

By Josette Combes

Occitania mobilizes for the WSFTE in Barcelona

In Occitania (France) a 2-day Forum on 22 and 23 November at the Jean Jaurès University in Toulouse brought together about 90 SSE structures, 4 local authorities and 4 SSE networks. The programme included 5 conferences, 4 convergence circles and 16 workshops. About 20 speakers contributed to the conferences, including 7 researchers.

The 1500 or so visitors came from different backgrounds (Political Sciences Bordeaux, Terre de Convergences in the Gard, Delegation of Marseille), a national and an international network and four representatives of local institutions. Forty stands presented SSE actors from Occitania. Twenty volunteers ensured the fluidity of the logistics and three restaurateurs (Ludi Monde, Curupira and the Kasbah) allowed the participants to take their meals, even if the attendance exceeded the forecasts. More than 250 young students took part in the round tables and various workshops. Finally, a concert with a Franco-Brazilian singer offered a joyful interlude. She provided the translation for the speech by Monica Benicio, Mariella Franco’s companion, a militant who was assassinated on 15 March 1918 in Rio de Janeiro (whose assassins are not likely to be prosecuted as long as Bolsonaro is in power).

There was a great participation of volunteers and visitors in this comfortable and accessible place with a lot of available space, a good animation of the actors’ circles, a rich and quality programming. In particular the Flashlab (presentation of initiatives in progress or brand new), its format, its richness, the exchanges were a success.

It is necessary to underline the energy given by the Barcelona perspective, the international dimension, the crossing of the 4 themes, the quality of the conferences. All in all, it was a joyful event, full of emulation, rich in emotion, particularly the speech by Monica Benicio during the conference on eco-feminism presenting the situation in Brazil.

This Forum was part of the mobilization cycle for the Barcelona WSFTE.

The next dates in Occitania related to the convergence towards the WSFTE and transformative economies are the following: two public political events – ex-Languedoc territory with Terre de Convergences, Démocratie Ouverte, La Région Citoyenne – ex-Midi Pyrénées territory; – an economic and feminist event in Toulouse (21 March); an event with the UFISC in Gignac on 30 May; two dates to be fixed in Ariège and Aude; – an agroecological event – ex-Languedoc territory; – an event in Haute-Garonne with FREDD (Film, Research and Sustainable Development).

The MES Occitanie is planning to produce a booklet using materials from FRESS (theory + feedback from the actors) which would promote transformative economies in the Occitanie region.

The creation of an Occitan delegation to represent the region at the WSFTE with citizens, elected local authorities, SSE actors and researchers will be based on a questionnaire with many actors of the transformative economies on the Occitan territory to collect information on their practices, encourage them to come to the FSMET and to propose animations.

You can find the filmed conferences on this link. (in French)

By Josette Combes

RIES: Italian Network for Solidarity Economy established in Rome
RIES Roma founding meeting

On January 18 and 19, 2020, the new Italian national network was founded, bringing together associations, networks and companies from all over the country who identify with Solidarity Economy values and practices.

There are 22 founding members of the new association that on Saturday 18 of January in Rome signed the articles of association of the Italian Network for Solidarity Economy (RIES). The new Network marks a fundamental point of arrival and turning point for the the Italian Solidarity Economy movement, which for about twenty years has operated through an informal network, the RES, and after a long debate has chosen to recognize itself in a single formally constituted entity.

The RIES will thus be the official association of reference and the meeting place of different entities, but moved by common principles and objectives, able both to deal with institutions and public bodies and to relate with civil society, with the aim of promoting and disseminating culture and practices of Solidarity Economy.

The event, saw about forty participants. Saturday afternoon was dedicated to the founding assembly and the composition of the various bodies by elective vote, while the following day the assembly opened the discussion to all the initiatives that are interested in potentially becoming members of the network. The debate was highly participatory and many ideas and expectations emerged, that will form the basis of strategic orientations and work plan of the newborn association in different areas: identity and vision, unitary paths, solidarity development of territories, models of solidarity economy, ethical finance, training, relations with other national and international movements and networks. 

The declared final objective is to promote an alternative to the dominant economic and financial system and a response to the situation of growing economic, environmental, social and cultural crisis.

The 22 founding members of the RIES, Italian Network for Solidarity Economy, are: DES MODENA, GASTORINO, CAES, DESR PARCO SUD, ALTRO MODO FLEGREO, ASSOBOTTEGHE, FEDERAZIONE PER L’ECONOMIA DEL BENE COMUNE ITALIA, AERES VENEZIA, FONDAZIONE FINANZA ETICA, RES LOMBARDIA, CO-ENERGIA, GAS NETWORK PATTANTI MARCHE, EQUO GARANTITO, CRESER, MERCATO & CITTADINANZA (network CS Bergamo), BILANCI DI JUSTIZIA 2.0, DES ALTRO TIRRENO, OLTRE MERCATO SALENTO, SOLIDARIUS ITALIA, ASS. DEGROWTH, FAIRWATCH, OLTRECONFIN.

Here are the 9 members of the newly elected RIES Board of Directors: Jason Nardi, Patrizio Monticelli, Domenico Maffeo, Davide Biolghini, Adanella Rossi, Virginia Meo, Diego Moratti, Pietro Negri, Maria Teresa Pecchini.

Photos by Alberta Cardinali and Riccardo Troisi 

A delegation from Croatia in Geneva to disseminate SSE in Europe!
Une délégation de Croatie à Genève pour diffuser l'ESS en Europe (octobre 2019)

An article from Après-GE, Chambre de l’Economie Sociale et Solidaire Genevoise.

Within the framework of the European project of cooperation between Switzerland and Croatia, in which APRES-GE participates, a delegation of about fifteen representatives from two Croatian cities, Ludbreg and Pregrada, came to discover and be inspired by the Geneva network of the Social and Solidarity Economy, on 28-30 October 2019.

As part of this project, a Croatian delegation of 14 people visited Geneva from 28 to 30 October last. It was composed of the mayors of the two cities, public officials and representatives of civil society.

The aim of this collaboration between Switzerland and Croatia is to present Geneva SSE companies, civil servants and elected representatives, so that our Croatian partners can be inspired by the “good practices” implemented in our canton. This objective has been achieved. Our partners have expressed their great satisfaction with the program that has been prepared for them and have left motivated to implement innovative solutions. In a second step, we will provide training in Croatia to build concrete projects with them. In a third and final step, we will participate in an international conference on the new economy in Zagreb. We are planning a small Geneva delegation for this occasion. Finally, the SSE Chamber could aim to support the creation of an SSE network in Croatia by transferring our expertise in this field and strengthening our long-term links, in the form of partnerships between Swiss and Croatian SSE companies and even between municipalities.

We would like to thank Jean Rossiaud and Lina Yanez from the LES IDEES Design Office – member of APRES-GE – for successfully following up this project for the SSE Chamber.
Part of the mandate is paid in Leman, our local currency.

Solidarity Economy shows its heart again

Article by Reas, Red de REDES, November 14, 2019

For the fifth consecutive year, Economía Solidaria once again shows its heart by publishing the annual report of the Social Audit Campaign, a tool for accountability and measurement of social, environmental and good governance impact, which is promoted by Social and Solidarity Economy entities (mainly, but not only, integrated to REAS RdR). The organizations that carry it out can use the results to improve internally while at the same time obtaining aggregated data from the ethical standards of the Solidarity Economy and the Social Market (Mercado Social).

In this self-evaluation process, the six principles of the SSE are evaluated systematically, objectively and periodically: profit policy, democracy and equity, environmental sustainability, cooperation, commitment to the environment and quality of work. This tool is also allowing a process of confluence of Solidarity Economy companies at the Spanish state level, by which since 2014 the indicators of the Social Balance and Audit systems developed from their different territories and led by its Social Audit Working Group of REAS RdR have been harmonized. It is from this process that in 2018 the technological platform that XES (Xarxa de Economía Solidaria de Catalunya) had developed within the framework of its “Enseña el Corazón” project was put to common use at the Spanish state level. Since 2008, the Xarxa has been offering entities associated or linked to this network a self-evaluation of their performance based on variables grouped into different blocks: economic performance, professional quality, democracy, equality, quality of work, the environment and social commitment.

The data that we present correspond to a total of 530 entities associated and linked to the different territorial and sectorial networks of REAS RdR that have carried out the campaign this year (19% more than last year), which includes: 191 thousand associated people -not workers-, close to 22 thousand volunteers who collaborate in the development of their social and collective projects, more than 4 thousand three hundred who participate in representation of the organizations, and more than 400 employers of entities. If we unite all those people linked to the entities -not workers- to the employees -members or not, a total figure of 235 thousand people related to the 530 entities that responded to the questions of the Social Audit of 2019 is reached.

The following results can be highlighted from the aggregate report of this self-evaluation process:

  • Equity: the wage difference is 1.5/1 between the highest and lowest wages of all workers; 60% of women in positions of responsibility and 88% of entities promote inclusive language.
  • Work: 75% improve legal work-life balance permits, 64% create spaces for emotional attention and care for workers, and 47% have internal regulations for the management of labour relations.
  • Environmental sustainability: 94% apply responsible consumption criteria in the purchase of products, 37% are entities with environmental management and 46% use 100% renewable energy.
  • Cooperation and commitment with the environment: 64% operate with ethical finances, 7% of their purchases are made within the framework of the Social Market and 7% in non-profit entities.
  • Non-profit: 63% of income comes from invoicing compared to 28% from subsidies. With regard to the distribution of profits, 65% is allocated to reserves, compensation for losses or own investments, 10% to initiatives for the construction of common goods and 4% to investments of financial entities of the SSE.

Based on these and other data derived from the Social Audit 2019 Reas network of networks wants to make visible and value the activity of social and solidarity economy companies in the Spanish state, showing that there are other business models truly responsible and whose objectives are not centered solely on obtaining profit but pursue the transformation and improvement of our society. “EstamosEnlaBrecha

See the full report. (in Spanish) Also on socioeco.org

Keep an eye on general infographics and gender infographics.

Welcome to the 4 new members of the RIPESS Europe Network !
September 6, 2019
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RIPESS Europe new members 2019

The RIPESS Europe General Assembly took place in Lyon, France from the 4th to 6th of July 2019. It was an opportunity for the members to meet and plan out the strategy of the network, exchanging on the network’s priority issues as well as ongoing and future projects. 

For almost 10 years, RIPESS Europe has been expanding with many territorial and sectoral organisations joining every year. This year, 4 new organisations applied for membership and were voted in by the General Assembly, adding 3 new countries to the network: Western Ireland, Austria and Russia.

The new members are:

AAE (www.aae.ie)– An Ait Eile Cooperative of Ireland

Represented here by Eamon Molonay and Kevin Flanagan, it is a cooperative social enterprise based in Galway in the west of Ireland. An Áit Eile is Gaelic language which translated into English means ‘The Other Place‘. An Áit Eile (AAE) started in 2015 as a cultural association of artists, musicians, and performers collaborating with communities on events and projects that address social and ecological issues as well as mental health. Today as a cooperative its membership is made up of both individuals and community organisations.

Cultural workers and workers in the social sector often experience precarity and challenges of self-employment. Small community organisations also face challenges in providing sustainable regular employment and increasing bureaucratic requirements. Responding to these collective problems, AAE seeks to provide cooperative solutions. AAE became a cooperative in 2019 and is one of Ireland’s first cooperatives to adopt a multi-stakeholder model. This means that the cooperative has different member types: worker members, user members, investor members and founder members. All classes of members have representation on the AAE Board. The approach is based on the FairShares model.

KSOE (www.ksoe.at) – Katholische Sozialakademie Österreichs of Austria

It is an academy of education and advice. Socio-ethical thinking and action are its guiding principle. The objective of its services is to support individuals and organisations that are actively involved in social change. “As KSOE – Catholic Social Academy of Austria we are glad to have had the opportunity to become the first member of Ripess Europe in Austria. We hope that other networks and organizations will follow”, declares Markus Blümel, representing KSOE and coordinator of a course on solidarity economy there. “Solidarity economy has grown in Austria the last decade. KSOE supports individuals and groups in starting new solidarity economy organizations and to transform into such. […] Being part of the Ripess network now we are sure to be able to strengthen solidarity economy in Austria and throughout Europe.”

NETZ (www.netz-bund.de) – NETZ für Selbstverwaltung und Selbstorganisation e.V.

NETZ is a German association for the Promotion and Support of Selforganisation and Solidarity Economy.  Represented at the GA by Elisabeth Voss, it was founded in 1986 as an umbrella organisation of local networks supporting self-help, networks of workers controled enterprises and other sectoral federations like social cultural centers and training organisations in North Rhine-Westphalia. In 1989 NETZ decided to go national and further regional and sectorial organisations joined Netz.  To strengthen the capacity of NETZ to deliver services to its members and to do joint purchasing, also small enterprises in the broader ecological and social sense as well as freelancers could join as members. Today NETZ still offers its experiences to promote and support grassroots’ initiatives and solidarity economy also trough networking between further actors in the field. Independent regional associations exist and Berlin-Brandenburg and North Rhine-Westphalia.

TPABA (www.trava.education) – Trava Education of Russia

TRAVA is an organization based in the city of St Petersburg. Share experiences of citizen-led change and self-organization as well as peer education. TRAVA (grassroots) started in the summer of 2014 with 33 conferences and workshops on small projects, the city and self-development in parks, squares and embankments. Since then, they have been organizing year-round educational events on politics and culture in friendly venues.

Food saves the world‘ is one of the projects of TRAVA and it includes catering from saved food, waste cooking workshops, regular informal conference about food activism, public actions and articles about food waste problem. Another project, ‘Map for People‘ is a map for responsible consumers that provides information about local places where tourists can eat, drink, buy souvenirs and clothes and, by doing this, support local projects that follow social, environmental and ethical responsibility principles. It is a research and educational project based on peer-to-peer model.

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