Democracy and participation, Urban and rural development, interrelated in the cooperative supermarket model: democratic participation of members trough sociocratic method to get fair purchasing with the planet and people, and sustainable rural and local development.

"A vecinal": Cooperative and Fair-Supplying

Democratic and participative project to provide a purchase with sustainable environmental, social, economic, inclusive and local criteria.

Creators

Who is behind this?

Leyre Fernández

Coopolis Sociedad Cooperativa

http://www.avecinal.org

Spain

Idea

Idea pitch

Contribute to caring for the planet by offering an alternative for transforming the consumption model: we have started by opening a storing plac to connect little producers, artisans and agroecologists with members of the cooperative. There is no price increase in products (beyond what`s necessary, as the renting) because it´s sustained by voluntary work of the members. We have firm criteria for choosing products: local, fair to the earth and people, no innecesary plastics, affordable price.

Where will your project idea take place?

Management from Zaragoza, all the region of Aragon affected (from Huesca to Teruel).

What is the local challenge?

Aragon has some areas as unpopulated as Siberia (Teruel) with a very old population and many difficulties for local economy to commercialize their products in a sustainable way: few distribution channels, bad roads, etc. However, it is a community with workers with many possibilities because the base remains: good product, good land to cultivate, people with a desire to work. The biggest problem of the territory is that it is geographically wide and poorly communicated (little internet) so the big capital is disconnected from the rural world. In addition, the distribution chains have been grouped in such a way that they control the price of the product and the quantity to be sold, so that many small producers cannot access these channels. We are sadly loosing quality and knowledge.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

This project is only possible from the point of view of the active participation of members. To avoid the in-store cost overruns (no benefits because no owners), 2 hours of volunteer support work is required every four weeks. Each family decides in which area his work contributes according to their interest and the needs of the cooperative. Big decisions are made in an assembly of partners, and day-to-day decisions are made by a group of non-salaried volunteers. Only store customer service work is salaried. Providers, financing, structure, teamwork and communication tasks are also made by voluntary work. All points of view are welcome and appreciate in each area of work! We have also starting to connect with similar projects in Spain and in Europe, learning from them and sharing barriers.

Who are you doing it for?

The project is open to all people who are consumers of food, hygiene products and household hygiene products. That is, for all people! Making the purchase is an action that does not distinguish between conditions, so our target audience is all types of families. Furthermore, by establishing the commercialization channels of the rural world with the city, we put small producers in the rural world of Aragon in contact who otherwise are not abble to access the conventional market in the city.
We divide our target group in two different groups: in one hand, people who live in rural areas in Aragon (50.000 square kms), who are producers (farmers, ranchers, artisans, etc.), and in the other hand people who firmly believe in other consumption model (from all Aragon, 250 families in May 2020).

How do you plan to get there?

A vecinal has been running since March 2019 with the store open. Before the opening, 2018 was a year of thinking about the proposal, and convincing a first group of 150 people. Now the work we are doing is dissemination. and keep working the mechanisms that have worked so far of decision-making and democratic communication strategies between partners. We want to go further, to families who live even further from the territory and who cannot travel to make their purchase, as well as producers who can not bring their products to the points of sale. First of all, we need to set the project in Huesca and Teruel. Then we need an informatic system and a place to prepare deliverees, and one person working in this, and after all we wold need a ecotransport to make distribution and get to producers

What are the expected results?

The success will be access to all possible local producers, and at the same time, to all the families who demand that we make the purchase from home and whom we cannot access due to lack of means. We don't have a means of transportation, for example.
We want to grow in a line in which we can maintain our principles, and for this the eco-sustainable distribution is essential. It is also essential for us to continue maintaining horizontal decision making, as our estatutes say. Right now we are working with about 160 producers from Aragon and other regions, and 250 families, getting them in contact. This is only in one year openning and only for the Zaragoza environment, so we are very excited thinking how many people we could reach in one year more and with better distribution systems...

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Making democratic decision is a difficult exercise for which we rarely learn in school.This project is absolutely novel in that sense, and we believe that training in better communication tools implies improvement of all social democratic structures. Our way of organizing ourselves; working in small work groups (financing, structure, teamwork, communication, criteria) of about 5-15 people is the perfect example of socio-democratic system. Horizontal decision-making implies that 1-2 people from each of theese working groups take part of another working group responsible for the biggest decisions, which is called "motor group" and also works with sociocratic system. Unlike "classical" democracy, which focuses on majority rule, our system upholds that all voices are essential (deep democrazy)

What is your story?

Our consumption is in fewer and fewer hands, basically in those of large agri-food and distribution companies that mistreat the land with intensive agriculture and livestock of enormous impact environmental (use of water and energy, soil depletion, animal welfare), at the
people who work it (local communities os peasantry) and our health (decreased quality). That is what a few people (150 people) thought one year ago, so they formed a cooperative and are working for today and demonstrating that another way of consuming is possible.
The motivation of the cooperative is the conviction that another way of doing things is possible and it can also have a very good impact on the planet. We don´t want lose our rural world, and we want to feed ourselves in a sustainable, fair and economical way

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 50000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

personnel costs: one person employed 12 months, 15.000€
eco transport: hybrid van, 20.000€
workplace: rental costs store place, works on it, informatic equipment to operate, web plattform, broadcasting, travels to rural areas costs, 15.000€

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

All possible in the commented lines, we are in the process of learning and growth, so all feedbacks are welcome! Please feel free to contribute!

Team

A Vecinal

monikerke

Txupi

eduromo

Idea created on May 9, 2020
Last edit on May 26, 2020

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