"If you want to change the world, join producers and consumers directly through a trust network, if necessary, use a decentralized currency"
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Based on the FairCoop idea, in some regions of the world we are developing economic relations outside of capitalism using decentralized currencies as a tool. This involves creating local circular economy networks in natural bioregions. That is, establish economic relationships based on mutual trust in areas that are understandable to our human scale. And, thanks to modern means of communication, establish links between these different local economies.
As a result of the first FairCoop Iberian Local Nodes meeting that we did in Valdelinares at the beginning of June 2018, among many other interesting ideas, the idea of carrying out a route that transported products between Iberian bioregions arose. The objective was to connect producers and consumers from different areas within an affordable geographical scope. Products of one zone that were necessary in another or, also, give exit to surplus products.
BEFORE AND AFTER VALDELINARES
For some months, we were chatting in a group of "Iberian Nodes" the possibility of making a meeting of nodes. It was not easy to define the date, but once it was agreed that it would be the first weekend of June, everything began to flow. Valdelinares, the highest inhabited town of the Iberian system, at almost 1700m altitude was the chosen place: an incredible place that hosted us, over a long weekend, 35-40 members to work intensively on key issues such as cohesion between nodes, transparency and management in the accounts, the circular economy, the analysis of tools that we use from the FairCoop ecosystem for its improvement, etc. Face to face meetings, without telegram chats in between! A lot of energy and synergies that, without a doubt, gave rise to concrete actions, to results: the organization of what has been the first of what will be many routes between Iberian nodes transporting products in FairCoin!
Carrying out this route was a pilot experience whose main objective was to exchange knowledge and see in practice everything necessary to replicate it as often as necessary and, at the same time, facilitate the implementation of smaller routes in different bioregions or between nearby regions. In the near future, it is intended to create a distribution network in the Iberian Peninsula, which, in turn, will lay the foundations for broader interconnections. To this first experience that has been a remarkable success we call it, for reasons that are not relevant, Punk Bubela.
BUBELA BIRD & BUBELA BEER
After the meeting of Valdelinares, in a natural way, we established conversations with some Iberian nodes and sub-nodes of FairCoop that expressed their enthusiasm and support for the project: Galiza, Asturies, Aragón, Manresa, Tarragona, Valencia and Albacete. Since in the Iberian Levante already work or are about to work certain connections, the goal was to unite Galiza with Tarragona and vice versa, passing through the intermediate nodes. From Catalonia, and thanks to the existence of a local distribution (rebost) in Tarragona, the products to other points would be transported later from there.
On this first occasion, the organization has been as complex as it was exciting! One thing balanced the other. The offers and orders were reflected in a spreadsheet and this, apparently simple, involved many hours of work and conversations. Without a doubt, solid foundations have been laid down that little by little this aspect can be improved. Also - special mention from here - to the bureaucratic paperwork that was provided to us from FreedomCoop https://freedomcoop.eu to be able to make the journey with guarantees.
We started receiving the merchandise from the different producers of Galiza in a central point, we loaded a van to the limit of its capacity and we began to roll.
We made two stops in Galiza to load more products and reach Asturies: the welcome there was marvelously warm after surviving the storm that fired us in Galiza and that almost made us stop the route.
We spent the night in Asturias and left the next morning for a town in Huesca, our second stop. There, we repositioned the merchandise and we replaced our strength thanks to the unforgettable kindness of the comrades who, rather than receiving us, took care of us.
And the next day we left for the next stage: Manresa. It was another wonderful stop because of the heat (not atmospheric, that too) but because of the human warmth that is truly worth it. That same day we started for the final objective of this first part: Tarragona. At the end of that day, which was unusually hot as we expressed before, more unforgettable companions and some cold beer awaited us.
The following two days were incredibly fruitful: we were able to establish synergies and learn a lot by visiting really interesting projects such as La Cooperadora in Igualada or the postindustrial colony of Calafou. It has become perfectly clear to us that the Local Nodes must generate their own resources to sustain their own projects. The Descapitalizadora de Tarragona for example, is an excellent example worthy of being replicated in many other places. We refilled the van with products from Catalonia to make the reverse route. In total, a ton of products moved, more than 4000 FairCoin and an incalculable amount of companionship and cooperation in what has truly been an initiatory journey.
Route continued south to Valencia
THE SENSE OF THE ROUTE
Uniting regions through economic and human links was the fully satisfied goal. Although on this occasion the route did not link some large intermediate cities (either because they still had nothing to offer to the others or because they did not express interest in this respect) we are aware that relations can be established spontaneously, depending on the arising the need or the idea of cooperation.
We have started with food, hygiene and cleaning products that cover basic needs and are easy to transport. However, in future routes, when we have vehicles of greater capacity, other types of products such as crafts, clothing, tools, electronic components, etc., may be incorporated. many of which are already available in the fairspots and online stores.
"The routes will make many more people accept Faircoin and the network will expand, so there will be new producers and more local consumption and more exchanges."
"The route has been a reality and a success, it has also helped to weave a network, and that the consumption is more local, but taking into account that there are things that can determine consumption at certain km of its production, as well as surpluses, regional products or special, for camaraderie, ... or live in a city for example. "
"The wheat flour from here (Catalonia) is not bad, but like the one from Galicia, I assure you that it does not, so if flour comes from Galicia to Manresa, it will be very welcome".
Hand-made bread in Manresa with the tradicionally-made windmill flower from Galicia bought in Faircoins
We are confident that the next routes can be managed with greater diligence and effectiveness because we are developing administrative tools based on this initial experience. Thanks to the inestimable and disinterested help of the partners of the cooperative Komun.org each participant node or group will have a virtual store in which to make and organize the orders of the next routes. In this way, it will be much easier to make payments and obtain delivery notes for delivery in each place. This will save a lot more time than has been used on this occasion to manage the route.
Whether a route works depends on its sustainability. There are many ways to achieve this by distributing the resources in a fair manner.
On this occasion the vehicle was generously given by one of the participating partners. Although it would be logical to respond with a contribution for the fuel and the wear of the vehicle, this time, the two companions who have carried out this route have done so voluntarily. It could also be considered the possibility of thinking about an adequate and fair remuneration in future regular routes, in such a way that we can generate a job for those who may need it.
So far we have seen a route can be a sustainable project based on different contributions:
1.- The main one: the producers can offer discounts since they move important amounts of products, as if it were (it is, in fact) a wholesale. That discount percentage can perfectly finance a route. According to our calculations a 10% discount can cover all expenses (fuel, vehicle wear and contribution for the person who acts as a carrier) especially on shorter routes. On this occasion we have discounts of 5% in some cases. All the data will be published soon in a detailed report https://org.fair.coop/issues/192 (in progress).
2.- The FairCoop nodes can complete the expenses proportionally to the requested products thanks to the contributions they receive quarterly from FreedomCoop and that are destined to finance their activities. Obviously, they can also contribute to complete financing of transportation routes.
3.- And if necessary, the final price of the products can also be added 1% or 2% (although we will always prefer that the families or final consumers reach the same sale price that the producers consider fair).
ADDITIONAL SUSTAINABILITY MEASURES
We are considering additional methods to lower transport costs, for example:
Many diesel vehicles can work perfectly with vegetable oil (100% or in part) which is notoriously cheaper than diesel. We even have a project (disobedient, as we like it) to create an oil recycling plant that could serve to fill the vehicle.
We can collectivize vehicles. The van we have used in this route is an old model that cost 1500 euros. Sometimes we like to imagine that we could have a fleet of collectivized vans making routes around the peninsula, which is not utopian. A van (or more) at the service of the common could be an excellent idea since it would lower the costs by not needing to compensate the wear of a private vehicle. It would simply be used throughout its useful life, maintaining, however, a fund to cover insurance, necessary repairs or sanctions in in case they are imposed making a task for the community.
All operations with products were made using FairCoin. Be clear about why it is important.
Our objectives are totally outside the capitalist orbit. Using centralized currencies issued by States or communities of States is unacceptable for various ethical reasons so, as far as possible, we avoid using Euros. It is appropriate to mention some of the reasons:
The Euro is a centralized currency whose issuance, circulation and control is in the hands of interests, in our opinion, very far from ordinary people. The Euro is based on a capitalist ideology that encourages the impoverishment of salaried people (especially) and promotes "infinite growth". The saved Euros lose purchasing power over time, force to fight constantly for decent wages that counteract inflation which, obviously, is not achieved satisfactorily due to the interests of markets and corporations whose profit forecasts are far above those who truly constitute the work force. The profits of companies must be greater year after year to maintain the purchasing power of such benefits (infinite growth) which encourages the need to increase production (almost always at the expense of workers), increase sales by promoting excessive consumerism and all this with the negative impact on the environment that is well known. The Euro is not an ethical currency.
On the other hand, the so-called social currencies are a good option but they are usually limited to a geographical scope that is too local, which at the same time is a virtue but makes them inappropriate for exchanges between regions or, in most cases, for saving in anticipation of difficult times. FairCoin is a decentralized electronic currency with characteristics of social currency thanks to the global community that uses it and the ethical values that sustain that community. At the same time it is a deflationary currency that allows savings and favors the necessary decrease. It is easy to use, safe and respectful with privacy. Even more, if necessary, producers and merchants who accept FairCoin can switch to Euros to cover expenses that can not be payed with FairCoin.
It is true that we could use other decentralized electronic currencies or create one for our exchanges, which is quite simple today. But, for the moment, we decided to support FairCoin since it has an interesting implantation, at least in the Iberian Peninsula. For example, in Galiza https://galiza.fair.coop/dir we have no fewer than 44 shops and producers, as well as numerous people who already use it. In other regions, particularly those with which we have created links, it is also being used increasingly. The currency is a tool that makes commercial exchanges simpler. It is true that it is not absolutely necessary. We could use a exchange system based on addition and subtraction as a sort of peer-to-peer exchange. But there is no doubt that a currency as a representation and reserve of value has its utility and facilitates economic relations.
This successful experience that we have carried out with a long route has laid the foundations to establish exchanges in a bioregion and connect it to others. The next step will be to establish periodic routes in the "Atlantic corridor" linking towns of Galiza and the north of Portugal which, now, seems a much simpler approach. In order to facilitate these exchanges we will start creating points of deposit, distribution and collection of products (Fairspots) that are simply locals in which to have a stock of products ready to be acquired by cooperative members and that can also be distributed from there to other points. . The routes will be carried out as soon as the volume of products to be transported makes them sustainable and thus be able to operate with the necessary periodicity. Shorter routes can be connected together when it is necessary to link different regions and establish links. The rest of the participating nodes are also developing their own projects that this first initiative gives a greater and wonderful sense.