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After the pandemic, no going back to the “abnormal”

What is a pandemic? An epidemic that is highly dangerous and is developing on a global scale. The coronavirus has indeed spread throughout the world and has thus highlighted the dangers of unregulated globalisation, based on the lowest wages, which encourages companies to relocate their production to low-wage countries which, in addition to the indignity of the process, runs the risk of severe restrictions as soon as the flow of goods is interrupted while threatening localised industries. The abrupt cessation of tourism highlights by contrast the damage it does to ecological balances. Confinement has forced populations, by reducing their mobility, to buy goods at a local level, even if, with the help of the Internet, the use of distribution companies has consolidated their supremacy. But this halt to previous forms of consumption and production has shown that many of them were not essential or even useful, and this beyond the circle of convinced activists. It also highlighted the importance of food sovereignty and the quality of agricultural products The pandemic has paradoxically revealed our interdependence by forcing the closure of borders to preserve each nation from a worsening of the pandemic. The shutdown of economies due to the lockdown heralds an unprecedented economic crisis if governments (political and economic) want to “make up for lost time” and restore profit levels, or even deregulate working conditions.

However, since the beginning of the pandemic, chains of solidarity have been set up and virtual meetings have abounded to lead a collective reflection on the “post-Covid 19” period. Internationally, RIPESS Intercontinental has facilitated a series of webinars in three languages organized by its members and published a text reminding us that the globalization of solidarity is the response we need now.

There is a tendency to join forces, because it is clear that there is a tug-of-war between those who support a return to “normal” and those who reject this return to “abnormal”. The major difficulty is to oppose in a firm and effective way without triggering bloodshed because the reaction has the military force at its disposal and the recent mobilizations that have inflamed the streets of many countries on all continents have met with more or less ferocious repression. There are also many calls to organize collectively to have the virtues of the solidarity economy recognized in order to respond to the challenges before us. A certain number of these proposals are listed in this newsletter. Among those that we do not reproduce but that you can find by following the links : A manifesto signed by more than 3114 researchers (at last count) from 600 universities around the world calls for lessons to be learned from the unprecedented health, social and economic crisis that humanity has been suffering for more than two months and for politicians to act now. Immediately. Its title: “Work: democratize, demarcate, depollute.”

In France a group including two former members of the National Council of Resistance calls for the creation of a National Committee of the New Resistance (CNNR), recalling what was set up just after the war for a new social pact. In Belgium, the Regional Council of the Transition brings together 70 associations that wish to advance the solutions of the future. This review is not exhaustive, we can find others in this newsletter and on the website, do not hesitate to let us know about the mobilizations that are taking place in this direction in your countries.

The World Social Forum of Transformative Economies originally planned for June in Barcelona has been postponed but in the meantime a virtual version of the Forum will be organized to publicize the alternatives that exist to the capitalist system, as well as to build new ones.

Many virtual meetings are planned while waiting for the end of the lockdown to come to an end. We publish them on our Facebook & Twitter pages whenever we are informed.

We have enormous challenges in the years to come. More than ever, solidarity will be the glue that will give strength and coherence to what we will undertake collectively. It is gratifying to see the number of those who want to roll up their sleeves.

By Josette Combes

Confronted with Covid-19, the Solidarity Economy is mobilising

Our April newsletter will be entirely devoted to the Coronavirus crisis. This is not to be redundant on what the media are reporting on: the number of people infected, the number of deaths, the state of the stocks of masks and respirators, etc. All information undoubtedly useful but whose effect on the population is anxiety-provoking. In this newsletter we have chosen to collect the initiatives that are emerging in European countries and in the world to face in solidarity the difficulties generated in daily life. Some initiatives come from public authorities, such as the European answer here. We are also publishing texts for reflection on the post-epidemic period in order to drastically renew the economic model that many of us consider unsuitable for the advent of a society compatible with the well-being of humanity.

This period places under the microscope the negligence of a system that endangers the lives of the most fragile people and places the burden of the crisis on the shoulders of personnel exposed without protection, and subjected to a lack of means and a pace of work that is incompatible with the serenity required in dealing with the sick and bereaved families. It is a glaring example of the inequalities resulting from the unfairness of the rewards allocated to those who contribute to the smooth running of a society and the neglect of a system that considers those who do not have access to jobs to be useless by putting them both at risk of death.

In spite of and thanks to the containment measures, civil society is showing its creativity to compensate for the disorder caused by the deregulation of economic organizations. In this issue, we will therefore find an anthology of initiatives, links and cooperation to save local producers who can no longer sell their products in the familiar channels, dressmakers who are transferring their activity to the production of masks and protective clothing, improvised canteens to help those who would otherwise die, accommodation for those who are “confined outside”, and so on. Finally, the civil society that was previously mobilized to bring about the economies of transition is organizing itself to prepare for the post-Covid 19 period so that we do not go back to the deadly direction of the “business as usual” of the rentier economy and the absurdities of producing useless objects that waste resources and energy. Many are joining together to publish their demands. Others are organizing online debates to gather imaginations and knowledge. Can we hope that this unexpected slowdown will lead to a deeper reflection on the essential needs, among which cooperation and solidarity are currently making a dazzling demonstration of their merits?

RIPESS is participating in these clarifications, these perspectives so that tomorrow will not resemble in any way what has prevailed in recent decades. And if for the moment the date of the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies in June is cancelled, we are thinking about how to continue the collaborations begun during the preparation period and we will inform you of the follow-up that will be given to them.

Let us stay together and vigilant.

Link page Solidarity and pandemic crisis

By Josette Combes

Solidarity economy everywhere: the challenges of the new decade
Hundreds of people warn governments "there is no planet B" when it comes to climate

For this first newsletter of the year 2020, the members of the Coordination Committee of RIPESS Europe wish you all the best for your initiatives to spread solidarity in a context that requires from each one of us a lot of pugnacity and wisdom to resist the destructive tendencies of a world in full upheaval.

What to wish for at the turn of a new decade? The abandonment of nuclear weapons, the end of the scepticism on climate change and the initiation of real and effective measures to reverse the current trend of a deterioration in the living conditions of all species, including our own, the awareness of the obscenity of the fortunes of plutocrats compared to the appalling levels of misery in all countries that suffer the predation and devaluation of their wealth, the cultural change that breaks down borders and walls to make it possible to establish equality and fraternity among peoples. These are all pious wishes, but one cannot help but express them at the dawn of a new year.
In the meantime, RIPESS Europe continues its peaceful advocacy for a world where these wishes would become the norm.

The Coordinating Committee returned to work during a meeting dedicated to the development of the strategy for the current year and beyond. It took place in Elne, where we meet every year in January at the invitation of Eric Lavilunnière, whose knowledge of this region of France enables us to meet some of its local development figures.

Among the network’s projects, the WSFTE represents one of the most salient issues of this new year. It will take place from 25 to 28 June 2020 in Barcelona. All our members are invited to promote this Forum during their events. Its main objective is to encourage meetings, dialogue and the elaboration of common strategies between the movements that are building here and now economies to fight against the current decay and to propose solutions for the future.

In Occitania, the Regional Forum had given itself this mission. The 2019 edition welcomed more than 1500 people. This high point of information and mobilization allows MES Occitania to consider organizing a bus in June to transport SSE actors in the region.

The site is already ready to register proposals for workshops and events.

In Italy on 18 and 19 January the Italian SSE network RIES was officially constituted in Rome after a long maturation. A rejoicing news. All our best wishes to this network with which we are already communicating thanks to the Italian members already involved in RIPESS EU.

In Madrid the international climate summit was held while social movements such as Extinction Rebellion (among others) organized an animation. Jason Nardi participated in a round table on circular economy, as well as RIPESS members or allies in various workshops.

Europe is finalizing the Green deal and the Social Economy Europe Intergroup of the European Parliament is also manifesting its intention to promote an economy that respects the Planet.

Let’s be optimistic and hope that this new year will be a real turning point in the awareness of the ecological, social and democratic urgency. Solidarity economy everywhere!

By Josette Combes

The world is on fire….. let’s join forces with peaceful counter-fires

By Josette Combes

This November, we can only be concerned about the state of the world: Sydney threatened by the flames while bushfires burned more than 10,000 km2 in Australia. Similarly, Amazonia has been the victim of devastating fires, California is facing the same devastation while Venice is experiencing one of the highest floods in its history and this list could grow longer and longer. Despite denials from climate skeptics, there is a link between these series of disasters and climate degradation and between this degradation and the now uncontested absurdity of our energy-intensive lifestyles. According to the World Climate Risk Index (WCRI), even if developing countries are the most affected, because they are exposed to harsh climates, Europe is far from escaping the threat. For example, France is 18th, Portugal 21st, Germany 23rd and Italy 25th according to the IRC ranking. The cause of climate change is identified: greenhouse gas emissions linked to the production and frantic consumption of modern countries, and in the process the eradication of biodiversity through the concreting of agricultural land, and intensive monoculture. All this is now well known and documented. Solutions exist, those that citizens are striving to implement as they organize to fight against this deadly entropy that threatens the present and even more so the future. Waiting for governments, who will meet for the umpteenth Climate Summit (COP25) in Madrid in December, to decide to declare the climate emergency and act accordingly….

RIPESS brings together within its networks these initiatives which demonstrate that the drift of an economy totally disconnected from the consequences that its development entails is not a fatality and that it is possible to sustain life by avoiding the appalling costs that accompany the current hubris. There is an urgent need to unite the forces of the various movements and initiatives that are building forms of post-capitalist economies, transforming economies for systemic change that can no longer be postponed.

There is an urgent need because people all over the world are rebelling against the unfair conditions in which the economy of transnational corporations – which are champions of tax evasion – is forcing them to live or even barely survive. No continent is free from this rise of popular anger, even if the triggers may – at first sight – vary. Hong Kong, Bolivia, Haïti, Venezuela, Chile and Brazil are facing fierce repression in the face of the protest that arises from the confiscation of democracy by authoritarian powers supported by major predators who are calling for the suppression of social achievements. The movement is reaching the Iranian people despite a very coercive system, in Lebanon, in Iraq the same effervescence. In France, all demonstrations are marred by violence, whether they are those of demonstrators or even more of armed police officers. And in Syria, in the midst of a long and atrocious war, the resistance and development of a society based on solidarity and cooperation like Rojava is a lesson in hope and tenacity to which we must connect and that we must defend. The rise of fascisms is a real threath.

Multinational companies are losing ground even if they do not risk communicating on this chapter for obvious reasons, including the GAFAs (1). It can be hypothesized that large groups feel the end of their supremacy coming because humans are gradually becoming aware that the danger of an uninhabitable planet is looming over the human species and that it is the consequence of the over-consumption of products that are not really useful, or even harmful, starting with agricultural production filled with pesticides and inputs. The search for relocating production and related consumption is accelerating.

That is why it is urgent to join forces to build and continue to build areas of resilience, to invent peaceful counter-fires, to animate agoras of hope. This is why the members of the network, on their territories, boil pots of counter-poison. You will have some examples in our November newsletter. And don’t hesitate to let us know about your own recipes. Let us remain vigilant to maintain the taste of good living.

(1) GAFA: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon

With SSE, let’s march together for the climate

This month of September has been marked by climate demonstrations around the world, particularly those that saw the mobilization of young people who are rightly concerned about the deterioration of living conditions on the planet. We can welcome and congratulate them on these demonstrations, which are supposed to shake up the inertia and carelessness of governments. For us, one of the fundamental axes of the solidarity economy is ecological vigilance, which questions the meaning of production and consumption in relation to the close link that must be sought between these two poles. It is the root of agroecology, which works for the quality of food, the preservation of the land and that of its inhabitants. But in all areas of human activity, it is urgent to rethink the aims and means underlying it, and to be creative and proactive in finding solutions.

As we have already announced, the central objective of the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies (WSFTE) is precisely to organize the convergence of organizations that have set themselves the essential goal of resisting the harmful effects of a globalized political and economic system that threatens the vital balances of the planet. The process initiated by the first preparatory meeting in April 2019 is ongoing and should be reflected in each country. This is the case in France, for example, with the Regional Forum of the Social and Solidarity Economy. Feel free to share your own initiatives with us. And please note already the dates of the WSFTE which will take place from 25 to 28 June in Barcelona. Let us be mobilized to ensure that a fundamental awareness generates proposals to significantly transform our imagination and put into action an economy at the service of humans and respectful of the planet.
We will communicate regularly on the process by regularly inviting you to participate in the different steps.

The General Assembly in Lyon has enabled new members to join us and this is welcome because social and climatic emergencies are accumulating and demand more than ever that we broaden the circle of people of good will.

In conclusion of this very brief editorial, it should be noted that in October two Peace marches will start, one the Jay Jagat from New Delhi in October and the other “La caravane pour que vive la terre” from Senegal in January. They will meet in Geneva on 25 September 2020.

Editorial: another Europe is necessary
vote SSEurope flags

This newsletter is a special edition dedicated to upcoming European parliamentary elections.

In the critical times we are living, all efforts to counter the anti-democratic specter which is sweeping across Europe are crucial, as well as the citizen-led initiatives to build a better Europe, starting from our everyday practices in our communities to the global policies that affect all of us, from climate, to migration, to agriculture, human and social rights, etc.

We need and want a Social Solidarity Europe.

As a network of people committed to profoundly transform the financial and economic systems, we have values and proposals in common. In the Open letter to the candidates, we’ve spelt out the main ones that look well beyond our community, collective and cooperative practices.

We’ve joined forces with other movements and networks for a campaign on sustainable production and consumption: the Fair Times is the result of a common venture – read the Newspaper dated 2024, where we imagine what could happen if the European parliament actually developed some of our proposals, 5 years from now.

But there’s more: some of our member networks have engaged organising events in their territories towards the European elections as well as towards the many local elections taking place in the same period. You may read about some initiatives below.

The preparatory meeting (april 5-7) for the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies (which will take place in Barcelona in May 2020) brought together representatives of different movements from all over Europe and the world. Joining forces in these times is no longer an option – it’s more necessary than ever. What we are trying to build together is an ambitious and precious space for concrete engagement and co-construction of a different financial and economic system. As RIPESS – with all our members, partners and allies – we are fully engaged to make it possible.

These are dangerous times, but also times for opportunity to really change the wind if we (re-)act positively together.

Transforming Europe in the world we want
Drawing New World

Every year in January, the RIPESS Europe Coordination Committee meets, hosted by Eric Lavillunière in the pretty village of Elne to work on the movement’s strategy. This year two important topics were on the agenda: the European elections to be held in May and the meeting to prepare the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies (WSFET) in April in Barcelona. Everyone is convinced that a race is underway to reverse the course of an economy that is outrageously predatory of the planet’s natural capital, leading to increasingly serious imbalances in human relations with their biotope and among themselves. The role of the European Parliament is becoming fundamental in harmonising the responses that European countries must urgently put in place to combat climate change and the authoritarian abuses that threaten democracy, in Europe but not only.

For several years now, we have been working to bring local authorities closer together to build public policies based on the territories that support citizen initiatives in the solidarity economy. But it is also essential to address European political leaders so that they encourage all the measures that act positively to maintain the democratic and ecological health of European countries. We are in the process of drafting a text that anyone can send to their Candidate for the elections of the European Parliament. The more of us do so, the more difficult it will be for them to ignore our claims. Alain Caillé’s proposal for a “European Republic” has something to say on this subject.

RIPESS Europe is also participating in a campaign for these elections on production and sustainable consumption with other networks such as FTAO and IFOAM. And with Friends of the Earth and several other organisations, we have developed a guide on how to talk about “the Europe we want”.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of initiatives that are invigorating to boost energy and hope. Whether it is a question of local currencies, renewable energy or the organisation of commons, the mobilisations are there.

European projects that allow cooperation between members are focused on transmission through training. It is essential to train new generations to continue to invent the solutions of the future.

In addition, during the meeting in Elne, Jean Louis Laville, member of the RIPESS EU Advisory Council, joined us to consider how the Advisory Council could contribute to research within the network, in order to allow for “change of scale” of SSE.

This change of scale must be seen not as a race for growth but as an intense process of disseminating the fundamentals of SSE so that they virally replace the culture of competition, profit at all costs, concentrations of power and wealth at the expense of the quality of life for the majority of people.

By Josette Combes (MES)

Flowing through the RIPESS stream
GA2018 Vukovic Drazen Simlesa

By Drazen Simlesa (Good Economy Platform – ZMAG)

Very often local activists are reluctant to join international networks: they don’t see direct benefits for themselves, it is time consuming and they give up very soon because the network didn’t solve some of their daily issues or meet some expectation. But a network is not here because of that. It is here to allow people to meet, to inspire each other, to connect, to not feel alone, to be empowered and gain new strength, to make us more visible and accepted…

So yes, we network together also to help and mutually support each other, to create a better world, to push us beyond our territories, to explore our horizon. I can’t describe better what RIPESS means to me. Here in Croatia we are still flowing through theRIPESS stream that we got during the Good Economy Conference and our network General Assembly that took place in Zagreb last June. We are still riding that wave.

One short drop: during those days we had a meeting with representatives of Croatian cities and one of the RIPESS members, RTES – the French network of local authorities for Solidarity Economy. The main subject of the meeting was how to integrate solidarity economy within Croatian cities in partnership with administrations and other important actors in the local community.

Today, not even three months later with some of them we are applying for two open calls for project proposals, meeting and communicating on a daily basis, preparing the ground for real implementation of solidarity economy in our local environments, we are visible and accepted partner to them. It is a part of our overall work and openness, but without RIPESS and its members’ support, it would be much harder for us to be on that inspiring and new wave.

This newsletter is a good mirror of RIPESS Europe abundance from Bilbao GSEF2018 to Barcelona 2020, from education and training initiatives to the “Europe we want campaign”, from local currency in Switzerland to solidarity economy growing in Greece.
All drops in a bigger wave and many more to come…
From Portugal to Russia, SSE is the “Good economy”

The RIPESS Europe General Assembly took place on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th of June in Zagreb, Croatia. It was preceded by the event organised by the “Green Network of Activists Groups” and the “Good Economy” platform: “Konferencija o dobroj ekonomiji”

The “Good economy” conference is an annual event (5th edition) offering an opportunity for exchanges and information to the actors of social transformation who implement initiatives on a daily basis to make territories live in harmony with their natural environment and their populations. The programme was rich and has been an excellent “warm-up” for the General Assembly (see program here).

In May, RIPESS Europe was mandated by the British Council to draft a series of recommendations to better promote the Culture of social solidarity economy in Greece. In addition, the Erasmus IVET project devoted to the introduction of SSE training into initial vocational or professional training courses has come to an end and the final report will be available following its official presentation at the last transnational meeting planned in Porto (Portugal) on July 13th. These various requests attest to the need to link SSE organisations in Europe, all the more urgent as institutional solidarities are crumbling under the effect of the hardening of governance methods by both private enterprises and public authorities.

Socioeco.org has been working for several months on many maps, including two that link the Sustainable Development Goals and SSE. The site will soon publish the contributions issued during the last conference of the Réseau Interuniversitaire de l’ESS (RIUESS) which was held in Rennes in May (in French, see here). “To associate, to self-manage, to emancipate”, the theme of the conference is a useful form of incentive in the face of the consequences of the hardening political times mentioned above.

In the meantime, the work of convergence and alliances with major networks continues: in Brussels with the fair trade (WFTO and the FTAO), in Florence with the REVES, the European network of Regions and cities for the ESS.

To conclude, it should be stressed that interactions between RIPESS Europe and its members are intensifying and the countries of Eastern Europe are now better represented. The region of Northern Europe is also very active:  in April the NESEM (North Europe Solidarity Economy Meeting) took place in Helsinki, a promising meeting for the creation of a “Nordic” SSE platform, which will include Scandinavia, Baltic countries and… Russia!

By strengthening each other, we give each other strength!

On the way to the 7th General Assembly in Zagreb
April 16, 2018
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Zagreb
By Josette Combes
RIPESS Europe’s activities have been intense lately. We went to Salvador de Bahia where the World Social Forum showed a great vitality bereaved by the assassination of Marielle Franco, activist city councellor on the front of favelas black communities rights  whose young people are killed without any prosecution against the militias and the military responsible for it. Gus Massiah of the French association CRID makes an exhaustive account of it. During the WSF, Ripess presented the World Forum for Transformative Economies project, which will take place in April 2019 in Barcelona. A very important project that will combine the strengths of RIPESS Europe and RIPESS Intercontinental, the XES of Catalonia, Barcelona City Hall and several other partners.

Previously, the second meeting of independent media was held, bringing together some 20 media representatives dedicated to alternative information. A manifesto will be published soon after this meeting. It should serve as a basis for cooperation and collective support among journalists with the general objective of producing free information and making the alternatives to the ultra-liberal system. known.
Several new projects are in the process of being validated, including the next phase of the IVET project on Vocational Education and training, as well as other European projects with many field and academic partners.
Ripess Europe has been asked to produce a strategy plan for the Greek government that wants to implement an ambitious policy for the development of SSE in Greece. A team of ten experts from our member networks are working on it.
Among the important projects, the preparation of the General Assembly which will take place on 15 and 16 June in Zagreb as a continuation of the Good Economy Festival in partnership with our Croatian members. To make your arrangements you will soon have more detailed information and we hope that you can join us at this annual meeting.
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