For the past three years, my wife Karla Scherer and I have been organizing, maintaining and gradually developing an informal consumers cooperative. Currently we use a room in the university, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), to help us receive, store, and distribute products (mainly food – grains, flour, brown sugar and other “non-perishable” food). We are still looking for a proper place that could function as a permanent, commercial shop, backed by some project / funding. We are doing this distribution just once a month and are trying, with other people beginning to take part, to create an ampler and stronger group that can function as a kind of organizing nucleus for the consumer’s cooperative.
The same process is underway in the local market. We are still helping to organize, maintain, and slowly develop a small, local market – mainly for organic farmers, artisans, and food producers (we belong to this last activity). This market happens once a day weekly right in central plaza of UFSC.
We also decided this year to start a “local economy web” – that is, get contacts of “alternative” local producers, and service providers, and organize all these contacts in a way that the public can have access to the list, so that there could be an increase in economic (and also social) interaction, or even incentive, for these small producers and service providers.
Also, the consumer’s cooperative and the small market deal mostly with food of organic or agro-ecological type. This means that we are trying to be careful not only about the “form” but also with the “content”, so to speak. For more than 2 years, our only provider for the consumer’s cooperative was another cooperative of agro ecological familiar agriculturists, located on the other side of Santa Catarina state. (We like this because it is like PROUTs idea of a web of cooperatives, though on a very small scale.) It was only in the 2nd semester of 2008 that we began to gradually include other producers in our list.