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Let’s stand together and stay vigilant

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

Let’s stand together
March 24, 2020
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For more texts, messages and articles about alternative solutions to the Covid-19 crisis, please visit our page :

Dear all,

These are very problematic times. The Covid 19 crisis has created a totally new situation: a threat of pandemic that everyone, after possibly doubting its reality, is forced to take seriously. Epidemiological issues are not new (HIV, mad cow disease, SARS, Ebola, Zika, H1N1), not to mention the major pandemics such as cholera, smallpox and tuberculosis, which killed several million people before medicine found the means to treat and immunize populations. What is undoubtedly changing is the realisation that our lifestyles are in essence vectors of pandemics and first and foremost the flow of people and goods. But this has to be linked to the possible failures of health systems that are highly dependent on components manufactured abroad but above all very weakened in their organisations by the attacks on public systems due to the ideology of “cost cutting”.

It would be indecent to welcome a demonstration to the advantage of what we have been advocating for a very long time, namely the relocation of survival economies: food, health, energy, education. Yet this crisis calls into question globalized systems while endangering local structures that were resisting the hegemony of the major groups. The logics are questionable to say the least: resorting to mass distribution for supplies and banning local shops when the latter are better able to regulate access by imposing a limited number of people at the same time. The result is likely to be catastrophic: small producers, bookshops, performing arts venues, small rural or neighbourhood cinemas, self-employed workers, etc., to the benefit, alas, of mass distribution which benefit fully from the confinement of consumers. 

In the face of this situation, solidarity is the essential response. Almost everywhere, people are organizing to save what can be saved: solidarity grocery stores, group purchases, conversion of stocks in deserted restaurants to make solidarity meals, support for caregivers, platforms for listening to isolated people, etc.

We have the privilege at RIPESS to work a lot by teleworking and we are preparing an April newsletter that we would like to concoct in connection with our members. We are asking you to let us know what measures you are taking to implement this solidarity, which is the revitalizing glue that binds human beings together.

Please send us your texts and suggestions before March 31 so that we can circulate the bulletin at the beginning of April.

Take care of yourself and others. Let’s be humanly responsible for a rapid end to this epidemic and we all know that we will then resume our work of advocacy and implementation for a solidarity economy that respects humans and the planet.

And we cannot conclude without paying tribute to all those who are on the front lines to care for, feed and accompany their fellow men and women in this dangerous adventure. May they be warmly thanked here. 

By Josette Combes

The future of Europe beyond green growth

The Corona virus crisis is dominating all the news and indeed the daily lives of many people are being constrained as governments impose strict measures to slow down and prevent a pandemic contagion.  People are forced to rethink about many things, including resorting to local consumption and production, reorganising mobility, distance / online work, reducing social and public interaction, etc.  This has some positive effects, if communities don’t close themselves and Europe doesn’t become even more a “fortress”, violently rejecting refugees and migrants (as is happening now on the boarders between Greece and Turkey).  Of course this does not mean undermining the pandemic threat – which by the way was not brought here in Europe by “migrants” but by international travelers.  Emissions have been reduced more in the last 2 months than in planned longer periods – so it is possible to actually implement climate friendly policies rapidly, if we really want it. The recent Green Deal by the European Commission seems to be going somewhat in that direction… but is it really?

The European Green Deal was launched by the European Commission at the end of last year and it became a hot topic for debate and reflection in SSE activists circles. It sounds like a gigantic plan for the urgently needed step forwards on the path to become carbon neutral continent by 2050. The main areas of the €260-300 billion per year investments are: energy and climate change, circular economy for industry, building and construction, mobility and transport, biodiversity, food and pollution-free environment. There are few new, unexpected, fresh, promising, approaches and concepts. At least fresh and promising for strategic documents by the EC. The use of terms such as “just transition”, from “farm to fork”, a praise for “biodiversity and nature” (well, very not fresh in the name of “natural capital”), or citizens involvement and protection catch your eyes.

However, when you dive more deep into the document, you realise that the whole plan is still addicted to the growth paradigm and is more of an allusion that there is a need for little bit of green and little bit of money in the current system to become more just and sustainable. In RIPESS and other SSE oriented movements, we continuously push and work for a paradigm shift that will transform our economy and democracy deficit system
So while a “greener” Europe may benefit the issue of climate change or environmental pollution and go in the right direction, there is still a lot to do for a really just and ecological transition to take place.

The European Green Deal is here to stay and we will have to address it in the next several years. Some time ago, not so far from now, it would have been a science fiction idea or wishful thinking to have even the rhetoric shift in the core institutions. After a long term and dedicated work of many activists, workers and promoters of just, fair, solidarity and sustainable concepts we have some part of it in this Green Deal. It is not enough and it not good enough nor solidarity based. So, we have to continue with our advocacy and daily based practical SSE living so that in the next years this kind of framework policy document will include more important concepts, practices and systemic change focus such as: solidarity based economy, deep democracy and participatory decision making, nature rights and ecological footprint tax policies, workers protection and commons enhancing…  RIPESS will do it, so join us!
We’d like to open a debate on this members and other networks and organisations who are working to change the economic system (and are looking forward to participate in the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies) – please read the article in this newsletter and react, send your comments and proposals!

By Drazen Simlesa & Jason Nardi from RIPESS Europe Coordination Committee

Open Call for the Transformative Cities Initiative 2020

Since 2017, the Transformative Cities initiative has been celebrating collectives around the world that have transformed their community in systematic ways with the Transformative Cities People’s Choice Award.
 The winners of last year have become a global source of inspiration

  • The Our Water Our Rights campaign successfully resisted water privatization in Lagos, Nigeria.
  • In Spain, Barcelona Energia lit up people’s houses with renewable energy and stood up against corporate power.
  • In Mexico, Cooperación Comunitaria A.C. worked with the community’s traditional techniques and rebuilt their homes after an earthquake destroyed them.
  • In Kenya, the Dajopen Waste Management Project turned waste into valuable nutrients that regenerated the soil. 

 Today, begins the recruitment for new inspiring examples of transformation in 2020: an open call to find those who are the local leaders of global change. 
Maybe it’s your collective! Apply here for the Transformative Cities Peoples Choice Award 2020. Or maybe you know other collectives that should be introduced to this opportunity. Please share with them this Open Call. 

Three key stories for each category will be chosen by expert evaluators in different fields. These 12 stories will receive widespread promotion, as they want to share the most inspiring initiators with as wide a public as possible.   As a finalist of the 2020 edition your story will be included in the Atlas of Utopias 2020, which this year will feature all finalists from all the three editions so far. An inspiring mosaic of real transformative utopias


 Their goal is not to create competition between different political practices, but rather to put a spotlight on transformative practices and encourage their spread internationally

Ready, set, apply and share!

Erasmus + BUSSE project & Forum on Food Sovereignty (Poland)
BUSSE - Building up SSE

Elena Tzamouranou, who works at Dock, Greek member of RIPESS Europe, relates:

“A few days ago, we went for a 3-day trip in Warsaw, Poland, as part of the BUSSE (Building Up SSE) program we participate in. The program is a strategic collaboration of SSE actors for the development of innovation and exchange of good practices, while aiming to disseminate SSE practices and activities, providing relevant knowledge, skills and competences.

BUSSE is about to develop an innovative 4-module training program and relevant supporting material for both, trainers and trainees. The training modules consist of:

1) Development and Conversion of a vector into an SSE project

2) Empowering Communities within the Framework of SSE

3) Principles of SSE in Cooperatives

4) SSE practices based on values ​​of Food Sovereignty

The first 2 days were dedicated to the BUSSE program including working on the 4 modules as they have been formed to date, discussed challenges that arose, identified gaps and worked on improving them.

The third day we visited the Dobrze cooperative in Poland, which owns two grocery stores in the center of Warsaw, and we exchanged experiences on issues such as governance, participation, organization & operation of a food cooperative.

After that, we visited the 2nd Polish Forum on Food Sovereignty. We participated in the workshop on networking for regional and interregional partnerships. The workshop included three main axes:

1) Empowering SSE through regional programs,

2) Synergies for Food Sovereignty and Agri-Ecological Education and

3) Synergies between Alternative Food Networks.

We would like to thank our partners in the BUSSE project, Ekumenická Akademie (Czech Republic), Dobrze (Poland), Utopia (Ukraine), Ksoe (Austria) for the opportunity to learn and discuss about Social Solidarity Economy in Central and Eastern Europe and for all the experience we have gained in the above mentioned topics.”

Do you work in SSE training?

Are you dealing with the issue of food sovereignty?

Want to know more about the program and its training modules?

If yes, please go to the program page

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!

The RTES – Network of Territorial Communities for a Solidarity Economy – launches the SSE kit for March 2020 municipal elections in France!

On the occasion of the municipal elections of March 2020, RTES offers a MunicipalSSE kit for future municipal and inter-municipal teams wishing to support the Social and Solidarity Economy. It was presented on January 22nd on the occasion of the RTES Board of Directors meeting. A total of twenty sheets will gradually be published by the RTES, dealing with the levers available to the municipal block and fields of activity. This action carried out by the RTES is part of a collegial approach with the actors of SSE France and the SSE Lab, “No municipal elections without SSE”.  

The MunicipalSSE kit aims to provide tools for future teams:

  • What is SSE? Why support it locally? What are the links with the competences of the communal unit? What are the first keys for the implementation of a structured voluntary policy?
  • What can be the principles and mechanisms of communes and inter-communalities to support the development of SSE (knowing and mobilizing the actors of your territory, public procurement, access to land, SCIC, co-construction and evaluation, territorial animation, transversality, resources that can be mobilized by local authorities…)?
  • How to illustrate very specifically the way in which the different thematic public policies can integrate SSE (mobility, food and agriculture, urban policy, waste, business revitalisation, digital, youth, culture & sport, silver economy, …).
THE COLLEGIAL APPROACH LED BY THE RTES WITH SSE FRANCE STAKEHOLDERS AND THE SSE LAB, TO HELP PROMOTE THE SOLUTIONS PROVIDED BY SSE.

The joint press release states:

“The upcoming municipal elections must make it possible to respond to the democratic, social and environmental emergencies raised by citizens in recent years. The Social and Solidarity-based Economy (SSE) is a solid response and must be strengthened at all levels. …

Local authorities have an essential role to play in providing incentives and support with a global vision, and in their role as regional leaders. This can take the form of the co-construction of multi-year plans to act transversally within the local authorities but also in conjunction with the inter-municipal and regional levels.

We are convinced that action can be taken here and now. Everyone of us in our networks is making proposals that concern citizens, elected officials, economic players, researchers, etc. Together, we invite you to consult our various advocacy materials in view of the municipal elections and to get involved with us. Let’s network, at different levels, to bring together the transitions in the territories! “

Article written by the RTES team

RIPESS contributes to GSEF’s – Global Social Economy Forum – policy dialogues in Europe and Latin America
GSEF Liverpool UK November 2019

The GSEF Regional Policy Dialogues are organized to promote the exchange of knowledge between policy-makers and key SSE actors. RIPESS has participated in both dialogues with the objective of contributing to the promotion of SSE and bringing the vision of local SSE projects to international fora.

RIPESS EU joined the 3rd edition of the European Policy Dialogue organised by Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF), our long term partners and collaborators.

This year, the Dialogue took place in Liverpool, United Kingdom, between the 18th and 19th of November 2019, around the theme ‘Building diversity and inclusion through the social solidarity economy’. A rich and open debate took place around this theme with a specific focus on 3 major topics:

  • How local governments must proceed with new approaches to create true inclusion
  • Moving beyond inclusion through innovative work-integration practices and policies
  • Social and Solidarity Economy: a driving force in enabling diverse future leaders

As RIPESS EU, we presented our work based mostly on the third topic, but of course with connection to all important SSE areas. Regarding the location of this year GSEF event, it was organized in partnership with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) and the University of Liverpool. And they were quite amazing hosts.

The day after the conference they organized an SSE actors tour across the city. Liverpool City Region is indeed a dynamic and vibrant SSE scene where they employ over 40,000 people in SSE organizations. We visited  Kuumba Imani Millenium Centre , main local spot for community activism, Baltic Creative CIC ,a unique area for gathering start-up and creative industries with huge focus on ownership and sharing, and Homebaked Bakery and Community Land Trust, a place of inspiration, with the best pie in the world and an amazing struggle against gentrification and speculative capital assault on land and houses.

Written by Alfonso Cotera (RIPESS LAC) and Drazen Simlesa (RIPESS EU)

A renewed Social Economy Europe Intergroup
Event Photography by Dani Oshi. Constitutive meeting of the Social Economy Intergroup at the European Parliament. Assignment for Social Economy Europe. Tuesday, January 21, 2020. Brussels, Belgium.

With the last EU elections, the inter-parlamentary group of Social Economy ended its term and a new inter-group had to be formed.  As RIPESS Europe, we supported the campaign led by Social Economy Europe for the renewal of the  bringing on board some of the newly elected MEPs and not just a repeat of past ones. In the communication we sent last October, we advocated  for a much more ambitious agenda, a transformative agenda, that would take into consideration not just sectoral issues (like reforms of the third sector, business models, job creation or public procurement that includes social economic enterprises), but a more structural change in trade, cooperation, climate and environmental justice, as well as in finance. And since the term Social Solidarity Economy and Finance has now been widely adopted at all levels of the United Nations, as well as local and national framework legislation), we proposed this term should be harmonised and become an integral part of the renewal of the Intergroup and it’s Action Plan.

With the new EU Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen and Commissioners like Nicolas Schmit (Luxembourg, Jobs) and the European Green Deal agenda for a stronger social Europe and just transitions (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/fs_20_49), we feel there is now some hope of pushing for a more transformative agenda. We would like the Integroup to truly represent this hope, ambition and engagement. We are committed to working collectively on these issues, involving a much larger movement than the SSE, which is also expanding fast (including in Central and Eastern European countries) and with contacts with MEPs in several European countries.Here is the news about the first meeting of the new integroup (from Social Economy Europe).

Article from Social Economy Europe

On Tuesday 21st January 2020, the first internal meeting of the renewed Social Economy Intergroup (SEIG) took place at the European Parliament in Brussels to appoint the co-Chairs and vice-Chairs of the Intergroup and to draw up a strategy for the next five years.

Five Members of the European Parliament were appointed as Co-Chairs of the SEIG, among whom, Patrizia Toia (S&D, IT), Sven Giegold (Greens/EFA, DE), Leopoldo López (EPP, ES), Monica Semedo (Renew, LU) and Manon Aubry (GUE/NGL, FR). Furthermore, the Intergroup appointed MEPs Leszek Miller (S&D, PL) and Jordi Cañas (Renew, ES) as vice-Chairs and agreed to appoint three more respectively from the EPP, the Greens/EFA and the GUE/NGL, in the coming weeks.

Also, the Intergroup agreed on a strategy for the next five years. At a moment in which the European Commission has just announced the launch of a European Action Plan for the Social Economy in 2021, in its communication on “A Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions”, the SEIG aims to cooperate with President Von der Leyen, Vice-President Dombrovskis, and Commissioners Schmit and Breton in co-designing an effective policy, that will play a key role in building an economy that works for people and the planet.

By Jason Nardi

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

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