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Thessaloniki, Greece: Community Supported Agriculture beyond borders
Urgenci Thessaloniki

We are local small-scale peasant farmers and eaters engaged in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), a direct partnership where the risks, responsibilities and rewards of farming are shared.

CSA is part of our daily experience of creating a genuine alternative to the current economic system, where the decision-making power of food production and distribution is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few financial investors. But we believe even more is at stake.

We believe CSA is a prefiguration of the new social contract between food producers and the communities they are feeding. The European Declaration of CSA, adopted at the last European meeting in September 2016 is a decisive step forward in sharing our proposals. It is a roadmap.

The European CSA movement has come a long way, but much work still remains to be done. Where do we stand when we look at our initial promises? Saving farms, fostering local economies and jobs that cannot be relocated, healing social and environmental wounds, repairing the broken links between different communities, rebuilding social cohesion: what are our achievements? What are our remaining and new key challenges?

The meeting is scheduled to take place 9-11 November 2018 in Thessaloniki.

More information at : https://thessaloniki.urgenci.net/about/

GSEF2018: RIPESS and REAS Euskadi present the Declaration for a Transformative SSE
Declaration Transformative SSE Bilbao

Within the framework of the GSEF2018 (Global Social Economy Forum) in Bilbao on the 2nd of October 2018, RIPESS and REAS Euskadi have launched the Declaration for a Transformative Social and Solidarity Economy. The statement comes when it is the thenth anniversary since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the trigger that ignited the biggest financial crisis even known.

The outbreak of the financial crisis in September 2008 placed capitalism at the centre of all citizen’s criticism. However, in these ten years the much-awaited and necessary changes have not occurred. Quite the contrary: the processes of financialization of the economy have increased, its speculative character has strengthened and, above all, the poverty and inequality rates on the planet have grown significantly.

Therefore, the statement wants to “raise the voice to denounce capitalism that commodifies and threatens our lives and our planet. It is a hetero-patriarcal capitalism that promotes discrimination against women and excludes diversity “.

In this way, the people, organizations and networks of SEE present at GSEF 2018 commit themselves through this declaration to “working together with other social movements for the transformation of the economy through alternative and social initiatives in the areas of finance, production, marketing and consumption. By transforming the economy, we transform territories and communities and thus promote a new cultural, social and political model”.

With this initiative, a commitment is made to a transforming social and solidarity-based economy at the service of a New World that is more just, respectful, democratic and sustainable. It is now a question of joining forces, and all existing practices, to build and impose an Inclusive Global Agenda from the Local to the International, and show that we have answers and proposals to overcome today’s huge global challenges.

In the act of launching the declaration, the World Social Forum of the Transformative Economies that will be held in Barcelona in 2020 has also been presented to the people attending the GSEF 2018.

You can consult the Declaration for a transforming Social and Solidarity Economy here.

E-leman: a local blockchain currency in Switzerland and beyond
October 15, 2018
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[By Jean Rossiaud, Chambre de l’ESS de Géneve]

The Leman is the local currency of the economic life basin that develops around the Geneva Lake (called Lac léman in French), the largest lake in Europe, crossed from end to end by a border. Geneva is at the end of the lake, and the canton of Geneva shares 90% of its border with France (Haute-Savoie and Ain) and 10% with Switzerland (Canton de Vaud).

The Leman currency is complementary to both the euro and the Swiss franc, on which it is based. The currency was launched in Geneva in September 2015, after 4 years of reflection within a group of about 50 people, composed of Swiss and French residents. A little over 3 years after its launch, 560 companies and businesses and several thousand consumers used the Leman. With the switch to electronic money almost a year ago, the leman is giving itself the opportunity to significantly increase its “payments community”.

The Leman stands out in several ways from other local citizen currencies. First of all, its local and cross-border nature makes it practically a rarity on the planet. Secondly, the fact that it combines paper and electronic cryptocurrency (under blockchain technology) also makes it unique. The new Leman banknotes are all loaded on the blockchain, they all carry a QR-code that allows users to check the validity and cash value of the banknote by scanning it. The π-léman (value 3.14 Leman) and the 1 Leman note, easily split into two 50 cts denominations of Leman, are also innovations.

In addition, the Leman is one of the very few complementary currencies to value the combination of pledge (for the BtoC) and mutual credit (for the BtoB), by stimulating the payment of a portion of salaries in Lemans. Finally, it is part of the trans-localist movement, which advocates the ecological and social transition (it is based on an ethical charter for the continuous improvement of business practices) from the local to the global level, by systematically building international networks in a collaborative spirit (peer-to-peer). Read more

WSF of Transformative economies 2019-2020: update about the process
October 15, 2018
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Economias Transformadoras

Last July we officially presented the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies in Barcelona and ever since we have been working starting with the networks of social solidarity econompromoting this initiative: XES, Catalan solidarity economy network; REAS, Network of networks of Spanish alternative and solidarity economies, and RIPESS, Intercontinental network of social solidarity economy.

The Forum aims to be a process of confluence between the local and the international spheres of different alter-economic approaches, which we call Transformative economiesAs you may read in the first Callsome local movements have already begun their meetings to establish priorities, agendas and objectives, mapping of organizations and confluences at local and international level. In parallel, RIPESS has promoted the process through the different membersin all the continents, and we are working with many other international networks and movements through the different approaches to disseminate and articulate the process.

In the last few weeks, we have designed a governance model that will organize the confluences both locally and internationally, in which the different ways of participation and co-promotion are defined. We want this structure to be drawn from the social base of the transformative economies, and that the confluence process will be based on the thematic axes.

We are also working on shared online working tools that will facilitate the confluence at all levels, as well as material and dissemination tools, such us the Forum website and graphic materials, that we will share with you as soon as possible, together with the next steps explaining how to participate in the process that we are just starting. In the meanwhile, do not hesitate to contact us with any doubt, idea or suggestion at forum2020@ripess.org.

Finally, we are happy to present you the new operational team that will be supporting the Forum throughout the process.Itisbasedin Barcelona and composed as of now by 3 people, who facilitate the following working areas:

Coordination: Júlia Granell
International facilitation: Iris Aviñoa
Comunications: Laie Vidiella 

Many thanks and let’s converge!

WSF of Transformative Economies Team

The debt shackles are off: watch Greek social enterprises go!
kalo SSE in Greece

[by Antonis Vorloou | former Secretary of SSE of the Greek government]

This article which appeared in the Thomson Reuters Foundations News (Tuesday, 18 September 2018) is published with the Author’s consent.

Debt laden Greek consumers have been forced to choose cheap but with the economy improving, will they ‘buy social’?

Decades of crony capitalism and regulatory capture have left Greek productivity crippled, eroded trust between the state and the citizens and – most disturbingly – everyone has placed “self-interest” above all else. The 2009 debt crisis revealed in the most shocking way the deficiencies of the “system” with unemployment sky rocketing to unprecedented levels (28% by 2013) and purchasing power reduced by over 25%. A social economy has been successfully proposed in many countries as an alternative to the market economy, yet in Greece it was first introduced during the early years of the crisis and was mostly regarded as a policy tool to restrain growing unemployment.

Some also had the controversial expectation that it could be a way to shrink the public sector by outsourcing to social enterprises. The economic outlook was especially distressing during the period of the euro zone’s debt relief measures for Greece, due to the shrinking demand triggered by dwindling purchasing power. In such an environment the competitive advantage lays with the enterprise which can cut costs and prices and not with the one which integrate a social premium into their products.

For this new way of doing business to be successful, two ingredients are essential – an enabling environment and a culture of contributing to the society. In a growing economy, aided by policy measures, a social economy can thrive and be regarded as an employer of choice, given the reward of doing something good and worthwhile for the society. Fast forward to today. Post bailout, unemployment has dropped below 20%, the minimum wage is on the rise and an air of normalcy is returning to the economy. The ability of workers to choose their employer is increasing and the purchasing power of consumers is on the rise giving them the opportunity to choose not just the cheapest product, but also one that has social added value.

The Greek government, which views a Social and Solidarity Economy as the new paradigm for aligning the interests of the market to those of the society, has introduced a new legal framework for social enterprises in 2016. This expanded the previous definition of Social and Solidarity Economy entities beyond Social Cooperative Enterprises, which were first introduced in 2011 and includes Workers Cooperatives – a new legal form – as well as all other types of entities which have a social purpose, democratic governance and limited distribution of profits. This has given a boost to the sector which includes more than eleven hundred organisations, half of them created during the last 18 months, with a combined turnover of over 10 million euros and employing over a thousand workers as well as mobilizing numerous volunteers.

To strengthen this dynamism, an ambitious plan to provide a supporting environment for the development of new and existing Social and Solidarity Economy actors is also implemented. The plan, which has a budget of over 170 million euros for the next five years, includes business development services, financial support through grants and state backed loans and a multitude of dissemination actions.

Creating a culture of giving and building trust, on the other hand, needs a more subtle and systematic approach.  Efforts to that end are being made in order to mobilize dormant societal forces so that this type of mentality becomes visible and eventually mainstream. These include the promotion of social impact measurement as well as cooperation with international organisations of the sector – such as RIPESS – in order to identify and implement new and innovative actions.

A Social and Solidarity Economy in Greece is still young but with the boost it will be given from governmental policies, together with the improving economic outlook post bailout, it has the potential to create a new way of doing business which is aligned with the interests of the many.

Antonis Vorloou is the former Special Secretary for the Social and Solidarity Economy law, which recognises different kinds of social enterprises in Greece.

Solidarity-based and rebel: Summer University in Grenoble
September 6, 2018
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[by Josette Combes, MES]

For 5 days, from August 23 to 28, in Grenoble (France), more than 2,200 participants took part in dozens of activities, including: 64 workshops, 33 modules, 11 forums. Around 300 organizations were mobilized. Attac and the Crid had wanted to combine their financial and organizational efforts rather than juxtapose two events that often bring together activists engaged in common struggles, under the beautiful title for 2018 “Solidarity-based and rebel: Summer University of the social and citizen movements”

According to one of the organizers, the three fundamental objectives were: “the training of activists and new audiences, the convergence of movements, the defense and promotion of concrete alternatives”.
RIPESS and MES have been participating in these convergence moments for a few years now and have been the initiators of several modules in that direction (Paris 2015, Besançon 2016, Toulouse 2017). This year, we were mobilized by two workshops : On Friday 24, in the morning, “Economy and human rights” (see the interview of Bruno Lasnier (MES) and Laura Aufrère (RIPESS Europe) by TV bruits). In the afternoon, by the workshop “Citizens’ initiatives, general and common interest”. It was emphasized that these terms need to be precisely defined in their context of realization. The MES presented the role of the solidarity economy as a space of mobilization conducive to combining the three dimensions and each contributor detailed how the commons and the citizens’ initiative were at the heart of their objectives (Attac, CAC, the collective “Not without us”). These workshops brought together more than 40 people and gave rise to heated debates.

On Thursday 23rd, among the modules organised during the day, we were able to partially participate in the module: “The Commons : sharing, contributing and organising” which, based on the initiatives of Grenoble, Lyon, St Étienne and Lille, but also on several European initiatives, made it possible to take stock of the situation regarding the structuring of citizen actions around the commons: recovery of vacant spaces, development of local currencies, shared gardens, re-municipalisation of water, planning of public spaces,… These actions raise several questions: what structure around the commons? How to set up assemblies of the commons, with what governance and for what missions? How to build resource spaces (commons charters, platforms, maps, self-management models…) and how to link all the initiatives that are part of the commons? What links with the SSE and ecological transition networks already structured in the territories? All these questions were discussed throughout the day. Several movements of the commons organized a “COMMONS CAMP” during the five days of the university so that contributors could meet, exchange ideas and continue to strengthen the alternatives in our territories. More information (in French) here.

The Forum “When Feminists Move the Lines” brought together a large assembly in a packed amphitheater and not just women.

Florencia Partenio (DAWN, Argentina) described the struggle of Argentinian women for the right to abortion, the law of which has just been passed on by the Argentine Senate. Itzel Gonzales (Red Mesa de mujeres of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico) described the horrendous situation of women in factories on the Mexican-American border, who are exploited, beaten, raped, killed with total impunity, and her organization’s fight to have these crimes punishable. Louiza Belhamici and Fatima Ouassak (Class Race Gender Network) discussed the theme of intersectionality and animated with a frank anger spoke of their fight of mothers of immigration against the discrimination that their children suffer at school, and the disregard for their values, the straitjacket of confinement in communitarianism as soon as they meet, in short, all the discriminatory behaviors that are legion on the French territory (and elsewhere of course). The last speaker, Assumpta Barbens (IAC Trade Union, Catalonia), raised an unbridled enthusiasm by telling with great humor the success of the women’s strike in Spain and their mobilization in the face of the unfairness of the Pamplona judgment. “We will not let anything go in. The revolution will be feminist or will not be!” These concluding words sparked an ovation from the entire room.

Saturday the workshop “Actors and actresses of local solidarity and international solidarity: how to work together to raise awareness and mobilize more widely” organized by the festival of solidarity gathered a wide range of organizations that have tried to find answers to questions raisedon the same topic: how to get out of speaking to already convinced people, to escape from the aggregation of all middle class/white people and organize broader solidarities and reach a less organized but eager to act public. (see the ATD Quart Monde article)
I circulated the information
on the flyer announcing the April Transformative Economies Forum in Barcelona, ​​whose perspective appealed to most of those present.

The weather favored the strolls in the city that had been organized outside the walls and the party organized by Alternatiba which hosted the Tour; Grenoble was one of the stages before its arrival on October 6 in Bayonne.
Several independent media were present (Politis, Reporterre, Basta,
Le Media, Médiapart, Silence, Alternatives Economiques, Sans transition!, Le Ravi, Le Postillon Grenet). Radio Campus made live broadcasts throughout the university and we can see a TV Bruits “summary”video (Video of TV Bruits).
A university that
sparkled energy and where we could note the absence of local authorities with the exception of Eric Piole, Mayor of Grenoble, though municipalism was the subject of a very busy module.
In the end we regret not having been able to attend
more proposals of reflection and debates but convinced that the gathering of mobilizations is getting better and better to transform the economic and social vision which is so toxic at the moment while decidedly another world is possible (see the ATTAC web site).

GA2018: more inter-cooperation and convergence!

In a lively Zagreb filled with people enjoying the world cup festive atmosphere, RIPESS EU – Solidarity Economy Europe celebrated its 7th General Assembly meeting with members from all over the continent, from Spain to Russia. The first day – Friday 15th of June – was dedicated to the “Good Economy Conference” sessions, in the beautiful setting of the Kino Tuskana theater, with a small yet rich and colourful local producer fair and many sessions dedicated to sharing experiences from Croatia, the Balkan region and the rest of Europe.

The dinner party in Zmag’s Recycled Estate Farm – 30 km out of Zagreb – was the most welcoming, convivial and social networking evening there could be, where new members got to know the rest of the RIPESS crowd as well as the great Zmag team.  Pizza and local craft beer, as well as reggae music, helped create a true multicultural atmosphere.

One of the oldest schools in Zagreb, in the old part of town, was the setting for the actual Genera Assembly for an intense day and a half of strategy discussions (on convergence with other alter-economic movements, public policies and SSE, education, peer training and cultural change), elections for the renewal of the coordination committee and admission of new members.  Three new members joined the network: Bio Fair coop from the Czech Republic, Fair Trade Poland and Good Earth cooperative from Macedonia.

One of the main issues discussed was the promotion of the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies, a three year process of alliances and convergence with two main events planned to take place in Barcelona in Spring 2019 and 2020.  More to come about it…

The last day was dedicated to foster the inter-cooperation among members, sharing ideas, projects and areas of work where new exchanges and common actions can be discussed and help advance SSE concretely all over Europe as well as at the international level, connecting with the other continental networks of RIPESS.

Last but not least, lunch and dinner were assured by the excellent food prepared by two catering cooperatives, Taste of Home (whose main worker-members are refugees and asylum seekers) and Avocado, with the participation of local “Food not bombs” food recyclers…

No Agroecology without farmers and Conscious Consumers !
April 19, 2018
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The 2nd International Symposium on Agroecology took place at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) headquarters in Rome, 3-5 April 2018.

700 participants, representing Member States, FAO agencies, farmers’ unions, civil society organisations and social movements as well as researchers from all over the world exchanged on their practices and visions of agroecology.

Urgenci, the international network of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) raised the voice and the visibility of local solidarity alliances between producers and consumers from all parts of the world. Jointly with the other Civil Society actors from the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty, Urgenci supported a clear common message: without women, there is no Agroecology, without small-scale food producers, there is no Agroecology, without conscious consumers, there is no Agroecology.

In their various interventions, Urgenci delegates stressed the importance of the role of conscious consumers in scaling up agroecology:

“A global consumers’ movement exists today. This movement is creative and diverse and stands for a vision of agroecology that is clearly connected to food sovereignty and solidarity economy , said Judith Hitchman, President of Urgenci, during one of the plenaries.”

Shi Yan, President of the Chinese CSA movement and Vice President of Urgenci shared her experience as a CSA farmer outside Beijing as one of the keynote speakers during the opening session.

Community Supported Agriculture and other types of local solidarity based partnerships between producers and consumers all contribute to many of the Sustainable Development Goals. They should be considered as a central element of the Scaling Up of Agroecology initiative that was unveiled by the FAO.

Nevertheless, several aspects of the implementation of this Scaling up initiative require caution on Urgenci’s part. Especially, that of major investors and large private sector operators who lay claim to agroecology, coopting the principles of peasant agroecology without transparency and accountability. Most importantly, there is a need to tirelessly refer to the fundamental systemic, social, environmental and political changes implied by peasant agroecology.

As the Forum was closing, Simon Todzro, an Urgenci International Committee member from Togo, declared: « Although the FAO scaling up initiative shows a clear paradigm shift, we will continue our own daily work of scaling out, farmer-to-farmer, eater-to-eater dissemination of alternative food partnerships and practicing peasant agroecology on the ground in Africa and around the world ».

By Urgenci, Rome, 5 April 2018.

Farewell professor Paul Singer, promoter of Solidarity Economy
Foto: Agência Brasil
Professor Paul Singer, Austrian economist and tireless promotor of the Solidarity economy in Brazil, died at age 86.  He published several books on the subject and is a reference for studies on local development. His performance in Brazil and his intellectual production yielded him the honored Grand Order of Merit of the Republic of Austria, received in 2009..
From Austria Paul Singer arrived in Brazil in 1940, at the age of eight. At age 20, he worked as an electrotechnician, was affiliated to the Metalworkers Union of São Paulo and had active participation in the 300,000 strike that paralyzed the city in 1953. He graduated in Economics from the University of São Paulo (USP) , he received his doctorate in Sociology, he became a free teacher in Demography and a professor in Economics at the same university. He was one of the founders of Cebrap (which brought together intellectuals against the military dictatorship), of the PT in 1980 and of the Technological Incubator of Popular Cooperatives in USP.

From 2003 to 2016, he was National Secretary of Solidarity Economy, where he worked in close collaboration with the FBES (Foro Brasileiro de Economia Solidaria) and where he defended, among others, the creation of community banks as an instrument for the eradication of poverty.

In the month that Paul Singer completed 86 years, the book “Ensaios sobre Economia Solidária” organized by Rui Namorado of Editora Almeidina was launched in Portugal. The book integrates a theoretical perspective of solidarity economy, which values ​​its historical depth, with its anchorage in Brazilian reality. It is divided into two parts, each of which comprises eight texts. The first is predominantly constituted by essays in which Singer shows how he conceives solidarity economy theoretically, valuing it as a struggle against the exclusion of the exploited and as a possible emancipatory opportunity, towards a future that consubstantizes full humanism. The second one leads us through experiences of the solidarity economy in Brazil, in interaction with the political position of Singer, as a member of the federal government, taking as a backdrop his fraternal closeness with the organizations involved.

See his site for this book, documents, interviews, articles and videos: (in Portuguese): http://paulsinger.com.br/

See socioeco.org documents, interviews and videos in Spanish, Portuguese, English, German and French: http://www.socioeco.org/bdf_auteur-71_fr.html, among others:

RIPESS at the WSF2018
FSM / WSF 2018

The World Social Forum 2018, will be held from March 13 to 17, 2018, in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, where several members of RIPESS LAC will be attending, as well as members from RIPESS Europe and XES, who will be presenting the Thematic Social Forum on Economies of Change, which is planned to be held in Barcelona in 2019.

The World Social Forum (WSF), which began in Brazil, is one of the largest gatheringswhere civil society experiences are shared and solutions are agreed on solutions, in terms of solidarity and democratic perspectives. The event brings together tens of thousands of participants from around the world, who will be debating various topics, from social development, to the solidarity economy, the environment, human rights and democratization, among other themes.

The slogan of the WSF 2018 is “Resist is to Create, Resist is to Transform” and it points to the need for alternatives for another possible world.

As mentioned in the forum application letter, strong resistance movements are once again emerging in Brazil due to the Neo-liberal reforms being implemented in the country. This context will be sure to generate opportunities for cooperation between the alternatives that already exist both there and in the world.

RIPESS LAC, the RIPESS network of Social Solidarity Economy of Latin America and the Caribbean seek to consolidate alliances and facilitate the convergence of alternative practices at a continental level.

We invite you to join the conference: The Solidarity Economy Movement in Latin America and the Caribbean: cooperate in the network! (on 15 March from 9.am- UFBA – Faculdade de Comunicação – Room 3), in which several members of RIPESS LAC will be present: Luciano Mina and Rosemary Gomez (from the Brazilian Forum of Solid Economics – FBES) and Alicia Canaviri Mallcu (The Solidarity Economy and Fair Trade Movement of Bolivia). To contact RIPESS LAC write to: americalatinacaribe@ripess.org

The event will also be an occasion to present the project for the Thematic Social Forum on Economies of Change, which is currently being promoted by RIPESS Europe, the XES(the Catalan Social and Solidarity Economy Network) and RIPESS Intercontinental, and which is planned to take place in Barcelona, Spain, in April 2019.

Besides bringing together networks of public authorities, universities and social movements, this forum aims at strengthening alliances and strategic actions in the whole range of today’s transformative alternatives (SSE, the commons economy, feminist economy, collaborative economy, fair trade, ethical finances, degrowth, food sovereignty, etc.), by focusing on creating practical solutions for a resilient, co-operative and solidarity-based society.

You are invited to participate in the construction of this forum, contributing with your experience and skills. You can contact the organizing team at: forum2019@ripess.org; and for those who will be at the forum, to also attend the presentation event (on March 15 from 1.pm – UFBA – Faculdade de Farmácia – room 1)) where Jason Nardi and Josette Combes from RIPESS Europe will be present, as well as Fernando Paniagua from XES.

Finally, RIPESS has been invited to participate in several conferences, among which are (dates to be confirmed – See the final programme):

 

We hope to see you at WSF 2018!

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