Field study in solidarity economics

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Theory is crucial, but more than useless when separated from practice.  This morning I read a blog entry on The Commoner* entitled "Branding + Mingas + Coops = Salinas" that brought this home in a deep way. 

Salinas is a small town in Ecuador that is the center of an area that "comprises 32 communities ranging from 600 to 4500 meters above sea level" and 6,000 people.  It is a living experiment in building what we call a solidarity economy network.

The people who have developed it since the mid-70s (that is, long before our terminology) refer to it as ?the organization,' which is a "quick name for several associations, foundations, consortia and cooperatives, ranging from cheese producers to textile, ceramic and chocolate making, herbal medicine and trash collection, a radio station, a hotel, a hostel, and a "office of community tourism". To have a general idea of the scale of this, watch the video (in Spanish) at"

The blog entry is a preliminary field report that highlights the significance of this experiment to all the various movements and discourses committed to building "another world":

The Salinas reality is one that deserves more attention and study, because it helps us to pose the big questions we need to pose if we are preoccupied with processes of radical social transformation. Questions such as: how can local commoners be actors of their own social renewal? How and to what extent can they access the social wealth they need for the pursuit of the good living through their commoning as opposed to their work disciplined by the market? How can they access circuits of wealth generation outside their local circuits? What forms of distribution and exchange can they invent with other commons? To what extent the existing market circuits can be safely used as a way to access wealth? How to set up limits?

To read the whole entry >


*The Commoner is a journal that is the work of a very committed group that seems quite aware of the deep linkage between theory and practice.  The work out of a commons/enclosure discourse.  Here's how they describe their journal:

In the beginning there is the doing, the social flow of human interaction and creativity, and the doing is imprisoned by the deed, and the deed wants to dominate the doing and life, and the doing is turned into work, and people into things. Thus the world is crazy, and revolts are also practices of hope. This journal is about living in a world in which the doing is separated from the deed, in which this separation is extended in an increasing numbers of spheres of life, in which the revolt about this separation is ubiquitous.