Autogestió: Adventures into the New Economies of Catalonia
Hello! We're filmmakers, and we're called Enfable. We want to make a research film about the New Economy in Catalonia, Spain, exploring cooperatives, local currencies, and community governance.
What is Enfable?
We're videographic storytellers. We explore alternative narratives to those we see represented in mainstream media, to make sure that the quiet voices are heard. You can find out more about who we are here. One of our projects at the moment is supporting the Exeter Pound, a new local currency that will launch in the city of Exeter, Devon in September 2015. There are many more set to appear in the UK over the next few years, and we're hoping that our research in Catalonia will be timely, enabling the wider movement to benefit from the ideas being generated in Spain. We asked our friend Gill Westcott, one of the Directors of the Exeter Pound, and a member of Transition Exeter, to explain why this project is so important.
What is Autogestió?
Autogestió is a Catalan word, meaning collective self-management. It is a concept that is widely used in the region, to refer to groups and movements that are democratically organised, without reliance on the State or business structures that are unequal. We're naming our film 'Autogestió', because we want to explore the spirit that is fuelling the New Economy activism of Catalonia, and to see what we can learn from it.
What is the Cooperativa Integral Catalana?
Catalonia is a region in the North-East of Spain, and it is a place with a fiercely independent spirit. Historically, its culture and language was suppressed by the Franco dictatorship, for a large part of the 20th century. More recently, it was the 2008 financial crisis, and the following State imposed austerity measures, which have been prompting many Catalan’s to join autonomous movements that are promoting social wellbeing and economic justice.
One of the most significant movements has been the development of alternative currencies. In Catalonia, there are at least 23, working in a variety of ways. Some are entirely ‘goods and services’ based, and act like Time Banks, and others, like the Eco, are Euro-backed, where 1 Euro can be exchanged for 1 unit of a local currency. These currencies, whatever form they take, are designed to facilitate social transformation, enabling those who have been disempowered by the global financial system to participate in their local economy.
What makes these alternative forms of money so exciting is that there is a layer of social fabric weaving them all together, creating a network of solidarity in the face of economic inequality. This fabric is the Cooperativa Integral Catalana and it has a fascinating story. The tale begins with Enric Duran, an activist from Catalonia, who became a modern Robin Hood when he borrowed €492,000, used it to fund anti-capitalist publications and buy an abandoned industrial factory, and then refused to pay it back to the banks. He called this an act of ‘financial civil disobedience’, and wanted it to spark economic reform on a grassroots level.
In his free magazines, he started to make the suggestion that an organisation be set up that was self-organising, self-managing, and working towards the common good. From this grew the concept of the CIC, a multi-stakeholder cooperative, which holds bi-weekly assemblies for all members, provides legal support, co-housing opportunities, and an interest-free investment bank. It is a ‘commons’ for members; providing a space, both real and digital, to start-up social enterprises, exchange value in the community, and have truly democratic relationships, without relying on the State or capitalism.
The CIC is a new model that could revolutionise the economy in Spain, providing solutions to a multitude of problems: nearly 50% youth unemployment, intense taxation for the self-employed, austerity measures, and a corrupt banking system. It is creating legal structures that work for people. The CIC does have a physical space in Barcelona, in an office called Aurea Social, but it is fundamentally a decentralised structure, with horizontal decision making, and members/activities/projects spread throughout the region.
We want to make a 40-minute film about the alternative currency network that connects the activities of the CIC, making it a model that we could learn from in the local currency movement in the UK. Although we’ve found out a bit already, we think this is the only way we can really understand what’s happening in Catalonia, and making a film is the best way to share it with as many people as possible. Often, the ‘economy’ is a concept that is kept from us by global, financial institutions. This film is about co-creating a new knowledge so that we can start to generate the New Economy ourselves, with true-cost accounting, democracy, and community in mind.
What are the funds for?
We need help with travel (ferry and fuel), accommodation (campsites), equipment, editing and promotion (our time)! If you want to know more about our budget, or if you have any other questions about the project, please get in touch - [email protected].
Thank you for your interest in our project - we can't wait to share the journey with you!
Hannah and Adam x
Reaching our stretch target would mean we could make our New Economy Film Festival in Exeter, which will take place in October 2015, truly special. We'll be introducing new ideas to our local community with guest speakers and a collection of some of the best films about the economy.
Here's some of the films we'll be showing:
Boom Bust Boom – Terry Jones
Love in the Time of Crisis – Theopi Skarlatos
Greece: Dreams Take Revenge – Paul Mason / Theopi Skarlatos
Commons – Kevin Hansen
The Emperor’s New Clothes – Russell Brand / Michael Winterbottom
The Economics of Happiness – Helena Norberg-Hodges
The UK Gold – Mark Donne
Oikonomos – Ingrid Rieser
This will be a week-long event, held in a variety of places across the city, accessible to everyone. The screenings will be free, and we're hoping to provide some lovely food and drink at each showing, as well as inviting some great speakers.