29 May 2013
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Franz Nahrada report on Vienna conference

Franz Nahrada report on Vienna conference

The Vienna Solidarity Economy Congress 2013 had almost a thousand visitors, and was very significant by bringing various streams of people together – people from different movements and backgrounds, gathering around the idea of cooperation and commons as the main pillars of any future economy. This is not a real mass event, but almost a must for activists and networkers in Central Europe, allowing them to forge new relations, get informed about other initiatives, bring forward their agenda. They got confronted with a plethora of offerings in two days: 120 lectures and workshops in the framework of the beautiful old Vienna University of Agriculture and in particular the modernist, bright Schwackhöfer building, plus booths, social events and so on.

In the preparation of the congress, several initiatives had decided to merge their planned meetings with this event. Amongst them was the initiative “demonetize.it” together with the solidarity economy winter school, who decided to run three parallel tracks on moneyless practices and theories of demonetization. It became obvious that demonetization is a discourse of its own and attracted at least two hundred people following one or the other of the 18 lectures/presentations/workshops focusing on the End of Money. When the demonetize tracks called for a final plenary, about 50 people were present and showed their dedicated support for the idea of “networking our way towards demonetization”.

The spectrum consisted of many people with many different “trades”. People who distribute free music, farmers who engage in community supported agriculture, people who want to build build tractors and other open hardware, people who educate children, people who create maps, and so on. It was consensual that building demonetized alternatives consisted of the practical coming together of complementing activities. “If you truly want to make it complimentary, you have to compliment each other”. This is an exciting new phase. Every single person in the room agreed with the notion that the logic of exchange and also LETS is not enough or even obsolete, that the idea of “paying back” is an obstacle and that the real future rather lies in “pay it forward”, but this works on the base of agreements and reliable cycles of cooperation and the enormous productivity that comes from people doing what the really want.

To form cycles of cooperation is primarily a local task. You can only cooperate with people you have easy access to. This was the reason and the rationale of creating a new mailing list, which was aptly named “miteinander” (together), and which is meant to promote immediate cooperations and the know how about how to establish long – lasting, successful cooperations. The new list will be in german language mainly and focused on practical issues of establishing cycles of cooperations, whilst the discuss list should continue to focus on theory and fundamental issues of demonetization.

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