Since June 2012 I started working part time as operations manager of RIPESS (Network for the Promotion of Social and Solidarity Economy). Below is the letter that expresses my motivations to assume this task. It was sent to Ripess' Board of Directors as part of the selection process in April this year.
Letter of Intent
We are experiencing a turbulent time in history. A moment of multiple crises: environmental, economic, political, social and cultural. A civilizatory crisis. It has given rise, on one hand, of manifestations (an example are the indignados and occupy movements) and on the other hand the increasingly harsh reaction of the representatives of economic powers. The idea that "something is wrong" is starting to be perceivable to the common citizen. This means a window of opportunities to propose alternatives to the current model of society and development.
It's no wonder that the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2010 went for a woman who argued that collective management of commons is more efficient than private management. We are at an impasse paradigm that allows the affirmation of Social and Solidarity Economy as a more effective strategy to address the crisis than "more of the same". Of course denouncing those in power – who will not want to leave – must continue, but I think the novelty is that we expand our actions to the symbolic field, to the sense of personal fulfillment, happiness, how we see the world and quality of life (the vivir bien perspective).
My first motivation for the post of operations manager of RIPESS is the opportunity to be vividly connected to this sphere of international events and to contribute to the construction of concrete alternatives to these crises based on the initiatives and reflections brought by Social and Solidarity Economy.
I see Social and Solidarity Economy as a social movement that has much to offer to the world in the present historical context. I think that RIPESS has a major role in putting forward the consolidation and the public expression of this movement that aims at the democratization of the economy from the bottom of the networks and the struggles of the people in the different countries and regions.
Because of its identity as a social movement, I find it essencial that Social and Solidarity Economy does increase its coordination and bounds with other social movements – both locally and internationally –, especially women, indigenous, agroecology, land reform, food sovereignty and security, environment, responsible consumption. A systemic crisis demands greater convergence and coordination among the social movements, and I think RIPESS, through its networks and national and regional realities, needs to contribute and be connected to these processes. I have a great interest to take part in building convergences between social movements through the struggles and practical experiences in the territories.
It is also necessary to change the way we do politics. I think there is a need to address inextricably the criticism of the current model, the resistance of the various oppressed actors of society, and the construction of alternatives. You can not just talk about alternatives because it would imply losing the structural and political notion about the situation of society and actors involved. Nor is it enough to stay only in the criticism of the model without any concrete and viable proposals to point to other paths of development. Finally, we can not stay in the resistance, because the isolation and fragility have important consequences in terms of violence and abuse by local elites or economic powers. I feel compelled to contribute on evolving the process of organizing the movement of Social and Solidarity Economy in a way that these three dimensions are always together: political criticism, resistance and proposal of alternatives.
Another motivation I have is to creatively and dynamically render available informations on the worldwide initiatives of Social and Solidarity Economy as a way to establish a close and increasingly public dialogue with society, as much as a tool to encourage local actors to exchange and learn from the experiences in other parts of the world so they can multiply and promote these alternatives in their territory. This can be expressed by reports, communicatin campaigns, maps and standards for communication between information systems of the various networks of Social and Solidarity Economy. I am interested in contributing to make Social and Solidarity Economy increasingly visible to the society in its diversity and plurality.
These elements have been part of my work in recent years in the Executive Secretariat of the Brazilian Forum of Solidarity Economy (FBES) and ESSglobal project. I was fully engaged on the construction and organization of the Solidarity Economy movement in Brazil, which involves thousands of solidarity economy enterprises, support organizations and public policy makers.
In 2011, I decided to leave the post of executive secretary, a process which was consolidated from May to December. The main reason is the end of a cycle of seven years of deep involvement and the arousal of new motivations and challenges that encourage me today. For years I've had a dream of living again in a small town in Brazil's hinterlands, contributing to local struggles, and to participate directly as member of a solidarity economy initiative.
That's why I'm today back to Caldas, a town of less than 20 000 inhabitants in the interior of Minas Gerais, Brazil. And that's also why I'm building with other people the EITA initiative (Education, Information and Technology for Self-Management), a self-managed cooperative which develops opensource information technologies (and methodologies for their use) designed to support the struggles of social movements.
I am therefore very interested in the post of Operations Manager of RIPESS, given the opportunity to work part-time online for RIPESS while dedicating another part-time to the struggles in my territory and to the setting up of EITA through its first works. In other words, I'm motivated by having one foot in the global processes of articulation and organization of the movement of Social and Solidarity Economy, participating and contributing to the challenges of this historical moment, and other foot in local struggles and the consolidation of a professional space in a concrete solidarity economy initiative. It is very important for me not to separate these two aspects of life.
I feel that my profile is quite in tune with the job of operations manager of RIPESS. I'd like to emphasize though that in order to succeed, it is vital to have an environment of deep political, institutional and ethical trust among the RIPESS Board, the Executive Coordinator and the Operations Manager. In addition, there should be a very dynamic, fluid and collegiate work among the members of the Board, especially in political manifestations and dialogues of RIPESS with formal/governmental institutions or social movements. I believe that it's essential that RIPESS be represented, whenever possible, by members of its Board, preferably from the continent where activities will take place, or by the Executive Coordinator. The role of the Operations Manager, in these cases, should be to support these representations with informations and analysis, without having to travel all the time, except when necessary and the positions to be taken are built openly and transparently on dialogue with the Board.
A word about my profile that may not be so clear in my resume is that I don't have good skills in administrative and financial management. This is an important limitation and I hope that these tasks do not fall on my work, in the case of being selected.
I have a very deep and passionate commitment to the struggles for the transformation of society and the defense of life in all its aspects. This commitment guides my life. It is to these struggles for a just and solidarity based society that I dedicate my activist and professional efforts, built upon my local roots. This is the motivation that made me decide to apply for this job and from which I have no intention of losing focus.
Life wants to live
For an economy in the hands of the 99%