It is a type of economic entrepreneurship because in reality most of the social and solidarity economy projects are enterprises of a small group of people, in many cases with the legal form of the cooperative or simply speaking about it, but that is not so usual, even of autonomous people who decide to start a business under certain criteria, environmental, social, and ethical. The RRCC of the big companies say that what the telephone does is wonderful, but the problem is that there is no system or network that has the criteria in place as we do. That is to say, the social and solidarity economy allows all the entities there to be discussed because the criteria are created between everyone. The interesting thing is that you don’t create a thing. You can say you are very responsible with the environment but the network is the one that says if you are really responsible socially and environmentally. In Madrid now, there are hundreds of social and solidarity economy entities. We share practically the same environmental, social and other criteria. If you want to participate in that network, you have to pass a personal interview and show that you meet that criteria…
If you want to participate in this network you have to undergo a personal interview and you have to meet those criteria, and in addition they’ll be analyzining you yearly. You have to fill out your social balance in which they ask you specific questions to find out- how many kilowatts you use a year? what challenge has this environmental year posed to you? The network itself exercises the controlling force over the entities that are within it and, in fact, if you do things that are obviously outside of the scope of the social and solidarity economy it’s the network itself that is watching over and can say to you, “we’re seeing that you aren’t meeting the criteria that you said you would meet in order to form a part of this network. That’s what’s interesting to me. It’s the network that really exercises supervision. You have a social balance, which is a tool that you have to fill out every year, and every year you have to show how you’re working as an entity…
I work in the entities of graphic design and communication. Now with Salmon contracorriente and El Salto, we have these three entities within the social economy of Madrid. Working with other entities and making a network with them is highly valued. We have very good ties with the entities of Aragon which is another social market. The criteria must be specified yet they vary depending on each of the themes. The labor, transparency, democracy, and decision making within the entity is a shared responsibility between men and women. Most of the entities do not have any problems fulfilling certain things because they are cooperatives. For example, they are nonprofits that reinvest the cooperative’s profits in new projects, and there is no owner that takes the money. You have to meet certain criteria, which is then displayed to consumers, so they can see how well you are fulfilling these criteria. By Javi Vázquez (Sosterra)
Sosterra is a good example of a network of consumption and of the implementation of a social currency: the “roble”. Sosterra proposes the creation of a tool- the network of consumption- that gives an outlet for social currency and brings together not only members but also providers, cultivators. They hope to be able to compete publically in order to offer services to schools, until now they haven’t been able to compete with businesses.
For five years now we’ve been working on a network of exchange and, thinking about the same themes of sustainability of life and the rest, we thought that the economy was largely responsible for many of the consequences that we didn’t like that we saw around us. A group of us joined together and decided to create a network of exchange. Meaning, a group of people coordinated in the form of a network that values goods, services, and knowledges that it possessed without having to go through the euro and taking as a given that the euro is quite guilty in all of this. From there, seeing other people’s experiences, always copying, trying to adapt them, improve them, modify them, adding and taking away, our own network of exchange was born. A network of exchange whose tool is a social currency, that’s to say, a currency created by the people who make it up in the economic sovereignty that we wanted and giving value to what we wanted. In this network, people offer their goods, they offer their services, and they connect and pay these goods and services, 100 percent in social currency, or converging with the euro, according to the circumstances. All of this was sprouting, germinating, and it become a network of 140 people in the area that we live in, which is very disperses, very rural and not highly populated in terms of population nucleus. And right now what we do is incorporate this tool in the distinct project that have been born around the network of exchange. So members of Sosterra can pay, and in fact do pay, part or all or none of what they buy in social currency. This has huge potential and that’s how we see it, it has other difficulties and other challenges that we’re also aware of. There are people who don’t have an economic income and they can directly pay for their products in social currency, or there are people who sell their services and they don’t have anywhere to spend their ‘robles,’ which is what we call our currency, and they spend them here. Then at the same time we’re trying to close the circle, looking for providers that will accept social currency. We have agricultural providers and other products that are sold in social currency. So, social currency fixes wealth in a territory. So the circulation of money stays in our region.
By Isidro Jiménez (Consume hasta morir)
I believe that with gender issues it is clear how we cannot talk about work only linking it to employment and the monetary economy. Also from the environmental perspective one cannot talk only about what things cost because we understand that each aspect has to be assumed to have its own value, what is the air worth? What is clean water worth? What is the care that right now in our society is not recognized at all worth? So, there is a part that has to do with the non-monetized and with giving it value, recognition, space and giving it all that it requires and on the other hand, what the social economy or the third sector is. We not only move in the world of institutions and in the private world, but also there are a number of organizations that are contributing and assuming a large part of the social and that must also be taken into account. It is another leg in how the economy is distributed.
By Marta Román (GEA21)