What do we weave?
The Community Initiatives Network seeks to catalyze exchange between communities in Latin America and Europe, in order to promote local self-managed initiatives that foster economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being. Seeking to challenge the traditional development discourse, RICO is committed to a self-governed and non-hierarchical way of working, both within and between communities. Therefore, the very definition of what constitutes the “well-being” of a community is built in dialogue with that community – there are no magic recipes or universal solutions, as each context contains different challenges, priorities and ways of working. Adapting and understanding each other is one of the fundamental pillars of our work at RICO.
What is a "community"?
We understand “community” as a group of people who feel an affiliation with each other, as well as with a number of elements and symbols. This broad definition allows us to work with a large group of allies, from indigenous and Afro communities, to neighborhoods and community councils in the cities, members of civil society and the sector.
With these objectives in mind, each and every one of our processes departs from three key components:
We support communities in the development of capacities for the generation and execution of initiatives that foster their own and their territory’s well-being on a spiritual, social, economic and environmental level.
We manage solidarity networks in Latin America and Europe to support community initiatives, as well as to build new alliances and working relationships, which are both responsible and sustainable.
We use our positions of privilege and our experience of working with communities to inform cultural and public policy debates in Europe and Latin America in defence of life and the territory.
Over the last two years and based on local priorities, we have developed actions in six thematic areas: (1) Associativity and Self-management, (2) Gender Equality, (3) Food Sovereignty, (4) Energy Sovereignty, (5) Climate Justice, and (6) Decoloniality. These thematic axes are not independent from each other. We understand all these axes as complementary and the vast majority of our activities fall under several of these at the same time.
Transversal to all our activities is the mission to strengthen collaborative processes within the communities with whom we work – our long-term goal is to become irrelevant.
We seek the multidimensional empowerment of women in public and private decision-making spaces. In addition, we reflect and act for the construction of new references of masculinity at a social, cultural and political level.
We seek to inform European and Latin American public opinion on the impacts of the fossil energy chain on the territory, and invite reflection on our relationship as human beings with nature.
We support local agricultural production of food for the subsistence of communities – rural and urban -, based on ancestral cosmovisions and practices, which are in harmony with nature.
We support community strengthening processes for the self-production of energy consumed in the community, through renewable energies, particularly photovoltaic energy.
We think and act from the transversal axis of Decoloniality, making visible the power relations between the North and the Global South, as well as between the Centre and the Periphery at a local level.
We aim at designing comprehensive processes, which depart from an interdisciplinary perspective, and also include the empirical and ancestral knowledge of the communities with whom we work. Thus, most processes can be categorised in two or more thematic axes at the same time. To aid the reader, we have broken down our processes into four different types: (1) Learning, (2) Construction, (3) Protection, and (4) Encounter, although we emphasise that these categories intersect at many points.
Our learning processes are focused on generating spaces for reflection on one or more thematic axes from the reality of the community and its territory. Learning is not “teaching”. For us, learning is always bi-directional; we use the tools of Popular Education to facilitate reflection from co-research. To date, we have facilitated learning processes in the areas of associativity and self-management, gender equity, and energy sovereignty.
We support the reconstruction of the social fabric and community sovereignty through associative strengthening and the development of initiatives in the area of food, production and energy sovereignty. Our objective is to collaborate in the construction of strong and just communities, where everyone can live in a dignified manner and in relation to their territories. An example of our construction work is the support of productive projects for food and health inputs.
In addition to supporting the construction of new realities, we recognize the need to actively protect our territory and its inhabitants. Through nonviolent activism, work with political authorities, and international visibility campaigns, we contribute to the defense of nature and its ecosystems, as well as the lives and traditions of those who protect it.
We open up spaces of encounter and exchange between the communities with whom we work, in which experiences are shared, ideas are developed, and possible futures are imagined where we can all live in dignity. These spaces facilitate the creation of new alliances from a deep and sincere appreciation for each other. To date, the meetings have taken the form of cultural festivals with pedagogical elements, and solidarity concerts.