Programme of activities for 2011-2012 : the learning journey process goes on

1.1 Lessons learnt from Learning Journeys 2007-2009.

The results of the 6 Learning Journeys that took place before Lux’09 enabled the group to formalise a shared approach to a strategy for evaluating and opened up the perspectives of “putting the economy back into the right order”. How?
1. “The starting point was the actors involved in field work and concrete realities, needs, aspirations and human inventiveness rather than institutions, power-based strategies or fragmented, biased visions”.
2. “By declaring that the other economy is one that is grounded in shared responsibility: what is my responsibility in economy, society, culture and nature? And how are these fields interconnected and linked to my own life?”
This strategy was validated by the participants in Workshop 7 and redeployed in the programme of activities for 2010-2013.

1.2 June 2010: the second cycle of Learning Journeys began in Mulhouse.

We checked and validated the fact that it is possible to include solidarity in the concrete solutions to basic needs; political convictions and ethical values can be converted into acts of resistance and solidarity; restoring fundamental human rights at local level - working with those who are close to us - and connecting them to other solidarity-based initiatives elsewhere. People who are committed and determined in their actions bring these initiatives together in an approach of collective joint construction, and guarantee a sustainable, shared space... ”La Maison de la Citoyenneté Mondiale” Mulhouse.
Together they keep the spirit of moving forward together alive. The current situation in February 2011 is described by Roger Winterhalter in « Colibri » magazine.

1.3 February 2011, the journey continues to São Brás de Alportel in Portugal, hosted by Associação In Loco.

Following the fall of the dictatorship in 1974, several people with strong convictions and considerable experience left the north of the country and committed to the democratic process in Portugal in the rural hinterland of the Algarve region. They didn’t know the region, but it was to become their home. Their initial evaluation showed them that opportunities and means existed, as well as a small solid team that shared values and experience. The conditions for autonomy and creativity enabled them to implement an approach of action/research at territorial level that was both integrated and participatory; it gradually became formalised, and was subsequently adapted to the changing context.

Over a long period - more than 20 years - projects deliberately included a dimension of collective learning and appropriation. This produced results that were both quantitative and qualitative that “snowballed” and allowed those involved in leading the projects to become more independent in the way they responded to the needs expressed, to help young people remain in stable jobs, help local companies to survive. These results enabled In Loco to scale up (from 4 villages to the Algarve region and the South Alentejo) and to gain the institutional recognition that they still have today.

We validated the fact that this approach provides an appropriate framework for solving the issues related to employment, the organisation of local services and collective management of public funds, creating both activities and businesses. It creates intellectual capital and re-enhances local culture as well as commitment to social aspects of local life. In Loco is a structure that creates high added value in terms of its social contribution and citizenship.

Today’s context is less favourable, and the Association poses the question as to what economic model would prove viable to continue implementing these values. Members of In Loco have been involved in implementing a participatory budgeting process to regain methodological access to the political process. They developed hands-on know-how in small territories in Portugal, and became involved in international networking in participatory budgeting. The method developed gained recognition as applicable to different contexts, particularly urban ones; it involves a multicultural approach.

The current context of collapse of the systems of dictatorship on the other side of the Mediterranean allows us to confirm the accuracy of our commitment, based on the experience we have built in our territories, their constraints and resources; they can be used to:
-  Re-establish a democratic approach: How can people build a more peaceful road to forms of organisation that alienate less? This is not something that springs to life in a spontaneous manner; it requires a collective learning process!
-  Develop an economy that meets people’s concrete, essential needs at local, territorial level.
-  Work together openly in horizontal networks to learn from one another, and develop tools to enable these changes, and to organise, because united we stand.

Brigitte Carraz : “In Loco’s mobilisation to prepare for our visit has demonstrated how a people-centred approach to local development can mobilise resources, how the structure has evolved over a 20-year period, developed tools that have helped it to survive, without losing sight of the initial objectives. This shows how being clear allows us to commit to the approach, an approach that is helpful and useful to people. We should not be afraid of change, but ensure that our values are present in the change process”.

1.4 How should we continue?

France Joubert : “The Learning Journey is interesting, because it allows us to learn and keeps us connected with our own realities...which is the same thing! The issues of finance, aging teams, keeping activities going are the key”.

The 2nd cycle of Learning Journeys continues into 2012: what are the themes, places, means, and mutualisation required for developing co-operative territorial economy, and that will allow us to formalise out “tool kit” so it can help people to act?

Relevant fields of activities:
- 1 - basic needs: food, housing, production...
- 2 - energy: water, waste management...
- 3 - local culture;
- 4 - environment: repair damage done, take preventive steps for the future;
- 5 - local tourism and leisure;
- 6 - infrastructure and services.

Crosscutting issues (these are not considered at the same level as the 6 above-mentioned fields)
- money, currency, value
- work, employment
- governance
- popular education and other methods that help develop interaction from local to international levels (understand, experiment, resist, regulate, negotiate...) (Text adopted in Mulhouse: Extracts from the minutes of the LJ, June 2010)

Preparing for the future: How can we transpose collective learning? How can we organise, become more efficient in our affirmation?

Mutualisation: We need to check if the analysis sheet established in 2007 needs to be adapted or not to structure our results:
-  What type of economy can/has the action created?
-  How has the action increased empowerment and responsibility in terms of the solutions that have been implemented?
-  What means/links/levers did the action use or develop to succeed/achieve breakthroughs?
-  What was it that enabled the dynamics to become sustainable and to create sustainable ways of doing things in a territory?
-  What lessons have been learnt that allow future dissemination? Quality indicators + territory this aspect still needs to be given more consideration in order to:
-  raise awareness and report on how autonomy has been regained
-  demonstrate what can be achieved by building trust and organising solidarity
-  establish and operate a space for public dialogue and negotiation (not to save the system, but to transform it, i.e. to prepare for the future) Communicate on what is essential in order to impact decisions: we need to work on the following …
-  “We need to become a recognised actor in the political landscape in order to re-establish the balance of power and become involved in the decision-making process of social affairs” (Roger Winterhalter).
-  “It is essential to include local development (local-social-economy) in the European agenda now, because it is still not taken into account” (Karl Birkhölzer).


The Collective that was created to prepare for the 23rd of November 2010 guarantees the approach, the continuity and the transparency of an open approach.

It is responsible for:
-  Defining the priorities for the programme of actions 2011-2012.
-  Inviting people to join, to co-ordinate the moderation, supervise the implementation of planned actions
-  Deciding on how to organise as things progress, to prepare an active participation in the 5th Meeting of RIPESS in Asia and continue to exist beyond that date
-  Providing specific members with a mandate to carry out explicitly designated work and agreements.

End goal: The (re) construction of co-operative territorial economy

Markers towards a mid-term objective “We are aiming for 2013 as our objective in the continuity of what we achieved at Lux’09: using hands-on practice to build” (Introduction France Joubert).


-  Sharing experience among members is a key asset of the collective. It is their common good. They hope to collectively multiply this common good through active contributions.
-  The cycle of Learning Journeys is a process that they successfully experimented between 2007 and 2010; they wish to continue at European level to add value, transmit and disseminate their achievements.
-  They hope to become an independent collective, a partner in discussions with civil society to dialogue and propose means for concrete solutions to essential problems that people face on a daily basis; and to do so with an open perspective that is anchored in solidarity between territories.
-  They hope to create a dialogue and interact with the following as determined in the meeting of the Collective 14th September, 2010, FPH: European and national parliamentarians, representatives of regional and local governments and European institutions. This is aimed at defining and carrying forward policies that will open up new paths of action.
-  And social actors who are themselves committed to building a co-operative territorial economy, who are able to carry the achievements of the P’Acts forward, to ensure that relevant contributions reach them. These are all requisites for linking shared actions.

Establishing the Collective (general principles).

-  Participation is based on the active, voluntary contribution of members in terms of sharing their experience of how to restructure co-operative territorial economy.
-  The Collective shall try to ensure that there is an effective presence that represents the diversity of a cross-sector of cultures and European countries, as well as maintaining intercontinental relationships.
-  Different kinds of resources shall be pooled: knowledge based on experience (or hands-on know-how), availability, networks and contacts, influence, financial contributions, access to equipment...
-  Members of the Collective participate in their own name. Being elected to office in an institution makes no difference in terms of a person’s status in participation.
-  The network is made up of partners as equals, not subordinate to one another, all working to serve shared objectives. They accept that it is possible to have different opinions, and try to accept these in a positive manner, to work towards specifically determined improvements.
-  Members of the Collective agree on the stages and means of internal governance. Content is produced during meetings and structured through the discussion lists on-line.