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.
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 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.