Sketching cooperatives in Portugal

The final piece of my response comes in the form of action. From everything I experienced during LoCDI what really stuck with me the most was this itch to get out of the house, away from my computer, and do something in real life with the communities near me. 

Rizoma Cooperative

After a (non-exhaustive) online search it became apparent that finding community led projects near me was difficult (websites were poor at best, non-existing at worst). This provided a starting point for action: to map the community-led projects within a 25km radius from me together with the communities themselves. 

The Rizoma Cooperativa was the first initiative that I engaged with because, as luck would have it they were running an introductory session on week 03 of LoCDI. I attended the session and afterwards had a conversation with one of the organising members. The sketches I produced during the introductory session were useful to introduce my work and acted as an example of what I mean by sketching cooperatives. In this exchange we created a map of the other cooperatives part of their ecosystem, together with thoughts and needs for how they would like to connect with them. 

Sketches of Rizoma Cooperativa

In this conversation I learned that they also haven’t found it easy to understand who are all the other food related cooperatives in the country. Having access with this information would support them in achieving one of their long term objectives, to create a collaborative network between coops. Another insight that emerged relating to difficulties with accessing information, was around the basic steps that it takes to set up a cooperative – this is not an easy process and it would be the kind of knowledge that could help other people interested in starting their own community led projects. 

Rizoma’s map in the Hand drawn publication

As part of my commitment to local and sustained action, I have joined Rizoma and will be working 3 hours per month in the shop. I have also joined the governance working group with the aim of understanding how I can contribute to the specific aim of creating a collaborative network between coops and continue the mapping initiative. My aim is to continue the journey initiated in LoCDI, finding ways of bringing climate change into my creative practice through locally informed responses to localised challenges. 

Elvia Vasconcelos

Élvia Vasconcelos is a design researcher, wannabe activist, compulsive drawer and dressmaker. Currently she is investigating the politics of participation and accessibility as a part of her PhD at the Technical University of Eindhoven.


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