Article by Georgia Bekridaki, Dock, Greece

It’s always very difficult to describe a lively meeting where 27 participants-members and 8 invited guests spent three days together in a beautiful place like La Bergerie de Villarceaux. During formal and informal sessions people met, exchanged experiences from 25 different networks and from 14 countries, they created bridges and common understanding about social solidarity economy. Despite the terminology used in every country such as SSE or Community Supported Economy, or Good Economy, participants explored the concepts, the vision, the agency, the actors and they re-assured that despite the different terms the conceptualization is based on common ground. SSE has claims and works in the here and now for a more just, inclusive, and environmentally sustainable economic system!

So the first day was dedicated to Ripess Europe as a Network and as an agent of transformation. The session focused on what has been done the last year in the framework of the network triennial strategy which is a) the promotion of territorial ecosystems b) the co-construction of public policies and advocacy strategy c) the strengthening of alliances at the institutional level and with other transformative economy movements, plus one decided at the Strategy Meeting 2023 (Paris) d) strengthen the capacity to re-imagine and update the narrative of how we build our future economy and society.

The Statutory assembly illustrated the actvity report 2022, the renewal of the coordination committee was voted and partners got invited to shortly present some of the projects that Ripess Europe as partner implements. There was a presentation of HATI -SOS by Karolina Silna from Ekumenicka Academie, Czech Republic a project focused on implementation of alternative educational approaches, expanding and promoting the offer of educational curricula that include soft skills for SSE. Subsequently, the Devisus project (Development of an Ecosystem for Valuing Social Impact and Social Utility) was presented by Berenice Dondeyne from MES – Occitanie, a project aimed to create a common ground to evaluate social impact and social utility in the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) and Laure Hubert from Ufisc presented the Manifesto for Territorial Cooperation as the result of the CoopTerr project that aims to foster networking between actors involved in territorial cooperation and disseminate their practices and methods.

The second day was more focused on the network strategical objectives and orientations for the next years, on organisational aspects such as working groups activation and open space, in order for the members collectively to share their projects and activities. Members elaborated in a collective exercise for the renewal of the Charter of Principles aiming to update the narrative in the current geopolitical context. Next session was based on four specific thematics, on public policies, territorial cooperation, care commission and knowledge sharing/ education while participants formulated working groups and set an agenda related to their interests and priorities. The working groups reflect the thematic areas that Ripess Europe is focusing on more these years and the same time is an “open” invitation to relative alliances and networks to work together on the topics through advocacy or projects. At the end of the day, a network space was created – a social market of ideas and projects – where members shortly presented topics they already work together or shared  proposals for inter-cooperation between members and allies and opportunities. In that way the network benefits from possible synergies and joint work on the continent (and beyond).

The third day was dedicated to an open round table (“fish bowl”) named “The Europe we need, the Europe we want: Joining forces to raise our voices”. Ripess Europe members met special guests and representatives of allied networks to discuss common advocacy and campaigns at local, European and intercontinental level. For Ripess Europe advocacy and co-construction of public policies allow to go forward by joining forces with other networks for a more powerful institutional recognition.

The 12th General Assembly was completed and all of us returned home with positive feelings, motivation to keep up the work, knowledge and plenty of opportunities for common actions!