An initiative of collectives and individuals of
Heraklion have been discussing during the recent months about creating an Integral Cooperative (I.C.) in our city. We have been inspired by the corresponding Catalan Integral Cooperative (C.I.C.), the global organization of FairCoop that promotes the idea of Integral Revolution, thus try to cooperate and shape a way to self-manage our own lives.
Having realized the disastrous consequences of the followed political model, both to humanity and to our broader society and the environment, we seek for an alternative route predicated on an agreement and cooperation between us and disobedience to the existing system. The values that unite us, putting at the center the human and the common good, were the foundation of our efforts. We place great importance on solidarity and confidence between us, as we believe that the development of a healthy community, which members will support each other, has emancipatory power -fore mostly to us- that can multiply to achieve the desired expansion to an horizontal network with equal relationships between autonomous projects and respective anti-systemic actions.
Beyond this general framework of values developed, we agreed on the basic functions that will regulate relations between us and the decision making process of Integral Cooperative in whole. Thus, some initial working groups were created for the thematic discussion of our activities, as well as a plenary which is our main assembly and the body that decides about the overall plan and strategy. We pay special attention to the harmonious coexistence of all of us inside the I.C. structure, supporting our joint effort, while protecting the autonomous action of the participants.
The sustainability of I.C. is mainly based on an economic disobedience scheme, that promotes the construction of an alternative economy based in the community and which serves its needs, in contrast to the central-governed and authoritarian economic system that prevails today. Therefore we already adopted two important tools that have been created with this purpose; IntegralCES which is a local exchange system that allows us to use a local mutual currency, and the FairCoin cryptocurrency which is supported by FairCoop and promotes our common values in a global level. The coexistence of these two coins that implements each other is planned to enhance our gradual withdrawal from Euro, the banking system and the state taxes, which in the most unjust way absorb the product of our work and largely determine our existence.
The first productive projects which are already participating in I.C.H. are actively engaged in agricultural production and disposal of their products, so the formation of a respective first Thematic Working Group was obvious. We consider the issue of agricultural production and food in general as a basic need that we must cover and manage within our framework of values. In our area there are several active collectives and producers using ecological methods and achieve a good level of self-sufficiency in products, strengthening the producer and promoting their conscious choice as part of a local ethical trade and more than that.
As a next step, we decided to hold a public event which would signify an open invitation to everyone in order to find out about I.C.s, to strengthen the proposed economic disobedience plan and actively participate in our local procedures. This event took place on Saturday, May 28, 2016, and included an all-day bazaar with products from solidarity producers, a collective kitchen during the midday and the afternoon main presentation, concluded with the discussion that followed. Throughout that day-event, people had the opportunity to buy products using eitherEuros or alternative currencies which were our local mutual currency named “Kouki” and the FairCoin cryptocurrency. Everybody was informed and several joined our new exchange network in order to use it and strengthen it with products and services they offer. Soon indeed will be having the first assembly of the mutual exchange network which will define many practical and organizational issues with the participation of all its members.
Great participation and interest existed in the afternoon presentation as well, as many people wanted to learn more about this initiative. We discussed quite a lot about the I.C.s in general and also about the economic model and the alternative currencies that we had used throughout the day. We were fortunate to have with us a partner who, having recently visited CIC and having seen up close the corresponding autonomous projects of the Catalans, presented extensively many of their successful projects. In conclusion and as a general feeling at the end of the day that comes from everyone involved, we keep the positive image of a set of people who came together and contributed to a political act of self-determination, taking strength to continue against those oppressing us.
The future of the Heraklion I.C. will be determined by all those who decide to come along and participate, enhancing both individual projects that are already active, as well as contributing to the creation of new ones, covering our needs outside of capitalist limits. Our future plans are numerous and will certainly be determined in more specific terms in the near future, before starting their gradual implementation. For example, agricultural production group already organizes a regular supply of products in the context of an “Autonomous Bazaar”, where we may exchange under conditions set by the community, implementing the economy which strengthens our I.C. network. At the same time, we encouraged new projects that will connect and contribute to food thematic, such as the introduction of a collective kitchen group, linking production with the availability and consumption of agricultural products while communicating our values for locality, self-sufficiency and solidarity.
The next opportunity given to us to introduce the Heraklion I.C. and talk to a wider audience is the “En Oiko” festival, organized in our city every June. Hopefully even more people will be able to approach us, join and co-shape this transition to a society of free people, based on our self-organization.
We are waiting for you!
* Visit Heraklion I.C.’s website and find out about our news and developments: http://heraklion.cooperativas.gr/