I have updated this post just before going to Edgeryders in order to improve my report in our mission “How else could your community get its food?“.
Catalonia, long way to collaboration
The cooperative movement started in Catalonia in the last XIX century. The movement arrived from Rochdale. Before then, except for some exceptions, rural life was based in individuality. Cooperation, on the one hand, allowed rural communities to survive. On the other hand, communities generated a democratic methodology to decide. In spite of that, things have not been so nice. Some people of each cooperative have had more power than others and democracy has not been so clear.
In conclusion, even though there have been some successful episodes, crisis periods have been really difficult for rural areas in Catalonia. At the end, cooperation, as it has been applied, has not been the final solution.
ICT4RD, another opportunity for rural community
Nowadays, when I go to rural areas to speak about how ITC could improve rural life, everybody mentions collaboration. My research, in fact, focuses on how that process is possible thanks to ITC. Technology allows collaboration, linking interests, as Network Society works. For that reason, I guess rural areas have another opportunity in Catalonia, at least, to work in a different way, far from individuality.
Despite that, the results of my first investigation were not good enough. Individual producers, in general, are using better ITC to improve the way they launch their products in market than traditional communities. However, that would not be strange if the communities did not work well. But there are some good reasons to believe things could be improved:
1. Virtual communities have a new approach to participation. Maybe, that is closer to Rochdale facts than traditional cooperatives.
2. Technologies are beating geographical gaps between rural and urban spaces.
3. Open Source Ecology links FabLab concept to rural life. Farmers can make their own machines (by copying); even more, they can create (and share) their own discoveries.
4. Transition Towns Network shows another way to approach to consumption (sustainability or ecology, to name but two, are important values).
5. Consumers want to control origin or business related with products they consume. (The People’s Supermarket, for instance). That urban community is willing to spend a few hours of their time and a little quantity of money so as to know product origin and marketing benefits.
In this way, there is another amazing debate in Edgeryders community about the resilienceconcept.
Resilience is a measure of a community’s or a society’s ability to adapt to sudden changes in ecological or social circumstances, while still retaining its social and material.
Thinking about the session regarding the above mentioned, I will try to propose some key concepts linking resilience and local consumption:
1. Changing the general approach (young people specially) to consumption. It is important to change the point of view: in the end, it will be better to use things than to own them.
2. More knowledge about the products we intake: not only related with properties/ origin, also about environmental responsibility (transport from origin to the market, for instance), social responsibility (social farming has a big opportunity).
3. Thinking about local (even personal) and deep (as Alberto Cortica has suggested) to reach global movements. Network Society could connect all the local communities (even personal attitudes/examples).
In conclusion, the change seems to have started at the end of the long tail (in each community) but with enough strength to engage the rest of the community. Learning with all its dimensions (specially thinking about young people) is the best approach to get good results in our mission.
Presentation for Edgeryders Meeting.