Within the SIC social economy network, one of the 10 SIC networks, Aleksandra Kowalska (AEIDL) organized a site visit to the Tejares 11 (T11) cooperative, which provides work spaces for freelancers from creative industries in Sevilla. It integrates co-working with creative spaces for offices and design work, meeting areas and a space created for training and wellness activities (e.g. yoga), as well as fully equipped workshop spaces for handcrafted and digital manufacturing — both with laser cutters and 3D printers. We share costs and resources by providing a common roof for a range of projects and activities in the name of creation, invention and recycling; but we also share knowledge, energy and hope – said Antonio J. Pérez, one of the co-operative members.
Think global, create local
T11 took shape in 2013 during the worldwide financial crisis that hit communities in Spain very hard, leaving workers and businesses vulnerable throughout the country, and especially in Andalusia. The post–property crash austerity measures meted out by European governments were translating into inert economies, rising unemployment, reduced labour rights and increasing domestic and professional costs. In a storm at sea, a change of tack can be a matter of survival. At T11 we chose to seek out new opportunities by responding to the chaos together, in cooperation with and investing in the local productive economy. Then as now, we recognised the need to explore new ways of working, where economic balance ceases to be the single prime objective and becomes a means to achieve a collective goal: the welfare and well-being of everyone involved – explained Tim Nolan from the T11 team and added: We believe in promoting cooperative models, business transparency, and traceability of production processes and raw materials as a means to democratise organisations and markets.
Supporting community-led social innovations
The Social Innovation Community managed to put together the Social Innovation Declaration, in order to influence policy and practice on behalf of all organisations, individuals and groups that pursue social innovations, both in their goals and means.
SIC identified five priorities that Europe should address. They include two very relevant ones to T11, whose members admitted that they barely receive any public support due to the lengthy and complicated procedures, these are:
1. Making funding suitable for small-scale experimentation, spreading and scaling impact.
2. Enabling citizens and civil society to lead local change initiatives through community-led innovation.
The SI Declaration recommends to the EU and its Member States . to take action and set up a strategic initiative to better enable smaller socially focused organisations, enterprises and facilitators to access EU funding, as well as establishing Social Innovation “Diogo Vasconcelos” Fellowships for people developing local change initiatives