What do we do?
We promote the exchange of knowledge and the coordination of joint local and global actions that strengthen associative structures and community sovereignty practices with a differential and gender perspective, as well as activism and territorial defence efforts, together with leaders, collectives and rural and urban communities in Latin America and Europe.
Principles of our work
We always approach our work from a holistic perspective. Although each of our processes has a particular focus, depending on the territories we cover and the priorities of their inhabitants, each and every one of them is framed within the four central principles below.
We understand associativity as the dynamics of non-hierarchical collaboration between actors with common objectives, in which affection, trust and care prevail.
The fundamental elements of associativity are:
Communication: Communication must be active, transparent and affectionate in order to achieve a space in which disagreements are openly shared and overcome, thus helping the continued growth of the collective.
Trust: Affectionate relationships, transparent communication and collective decision-making and action allow for the consolidation of effective cooperation between actors.
Leadership: Shared leadership and distributed responsibility among all members ensure that work and decision-making are not concentrated in the hands of a few; when we all take leadership, we also accept a responsibility towards others.
At RICO, we seek to strengthen associative dynamics, both within the framework of regional and international networking, as well as within each of the processes. To achieve this goal,
- We promote initiatives for the exchange of knowledge and interdisciplinary and intercultural collaboration on all of the Network's work themes.
- We open spaces for dialogue on the importance of community leadership, the equal participation of women and ways of creating collectivity based on affection and trust.
- We also offer training and support in organisational strengthening, including topics such as legal constitution, decision-making mechanisms, accounting and fundraising.
Community sovereignty is the autonomy of a community to decide and practice Buen Vivir, in harmony with the territory and its ancestral values.
The fundamental elements of community sovereignty are:
Self-management: The ability to grow food, obtain drinking water, generate energy, practice medicine and other subsistence activities, based on a dialogue of knowledge between ancestral practices and new technologies.
Responsibility: Sovereignty implies the responsibility to preserve life and balance in the territory that hosts us, understanding that the territory (rivers, forests, mountains) can provide everything necessary to achieve the desired life.
Identity: Community sovereignty is a way of life that reproduces ancestral community values through intergenerational dialogue to achieve favourable conditions for integral development.
Interdependence: The exchange of knowledge, experiences, goods and services between communities helps consolidate community sovereignty.
We support community sovereignty processes through:
- Spaces for training and dialogue between ancestral knowledge and new technologies for the satisfaction of basic needs, for example through renewable energies, access to water, family gardens, and medicinal plants.
- The exercise of memory, positioning and visibility of the knowledge that constitutes the identity and history of the communities.
- Activities that vindicate ancestral knowledge and the recognition of the territory as a space that shelters life and human relations.
- Gatherings and exchanges between communities related to ancestral knowledge, local struggles, and territorial dynamics.
Gender is a cultural construction of what it means to be a woman and a man, which we can transform towards more equitable and respectful ways of being with each other and with the territory.
This commitment is based on the following elements:
Equity: Participation mechanisms in which men, women and non-binary people can feel safe, express their voice and be taken into account, as well as the adequate distribution of benefits and responsibilities among these diverse groups.
Affection: The creation of bonds of affection, trust and friendship between men, women, diverse people, and even non-human beings, which require constant reflection on how and whom we can love.
Care: Living these loving relationships in a healthy way also depends on how we take care of each other, always making sure that our words and actions contribute to protecting each other physically and psychologically, as well as the territory and non-human beings.
At RICO, our commitment to gender and new masculinities includes the following activities:
- Workshops and exercises for critical reflection on the impacts of patriarchy on our bodies and territory, including gender-based violence, and on personal and collective tools for thinking and building new masculinities based on affection and care for the human and non-human.
- Activities that strengthen women's leadership at the personal, family and community levels, based on women's productive sovereignty, the equitable distribution of care work and their positioning as important leaders.
- Actions to raise awareness of instances of gender violence and feminicide and support for women in a state of threat or vulnerability.
- Collective instances of care at community and network level in which mental health is addressed, as well as support in cases of threat and violence.
Our actions seek to ensure our participation in the decision-making centres, so that we can have an impact on institutions and general opinion for the benefit of the dignity of the territory and its inhabitants.
This commitment is based on the following elements:
Denouncement: Analysis and visibility of social, economic, environmental and cultural problems that negatively affect the life and dignity of human and non-human beings.
Construction: Actions to repair our ecosystems and communities based on mutual care, which also offer examples of alternative ways of living in harmony with the Earth and with each other.
Narrative change: Exercises to re-signify our links with the community and with the Earth, with the aim of generating new discourses and practices that facilitate our survival as a planetary ecosystem.
At RICO, these efforts include the following activities:
- Actions aimed at participating, proposing and having an impact on decision-making centres (municipality, department, national government, companies, council-governments, etc.).
- Communications and education campaigns to promote narrative changes in public opinion, including critiques and proposals for territorial management, with economic, legal and public policy recommendations, etc.
- Actions to make visible and denounce the socio-environmental impacts of extractivist projects, corruption, paramilitary or gender violence.
- Actions to restore ecosystems, protect biodiversity and care for non-human beings.
RICO offers several Articulating Working Groups in which network members can establish dialogues with other collectives and actors working on the same issue, fostering knowledge exchange and collaboration. Each working group defines its own dynamic in which all participants are also leaders, of course, always in line with the four principles.