Las Indias in English

Towards a New World

las Indias Cooperative Group

Manuel Ortega

Manuel Ortega 6 ~ February 20th, 2015 ~ 0

Island in the net or an alternative to the net?

Mar_de_floresAt the end of 2010, we published several posts on the nature and the consequences of the FbT-model, that is, socialization on Facebook + Twitter. The conversations that fed these posts were born of the question of whether new, free systems, thought of as alternatives to Facebook + Twitter and with a distributed structure, could create a different logic and dynamic from these born on centralized services.

We knew well the general dangers of centralized services, but beyond that, it became clear and obvious that the FbT-model had serious consequences for the culture that was born on the Internet. Little by little, it endangers the birth of conversational communities, and consequently limits the birth of new identities and social models.

Three years later

Not long ago, we installed two nodes of GNUsocial, one of these alternative systems. The two nodes are and In these first days of experience with GNUsocial, we learned a lot and begin discover interesting and important contributions to the above-mentioned conversation.

David: On the other quitter nodes, I think there is less sharing of links than on Twitter, and more characters and conversation.

Jacinto: How nice to have a space for calm conversation without all the noise.

First David and later Jacinto made reference to the existence of conversations in the nodes of GNUsocial. Reading their messages and rereading past posts, I believe I have found the key to understanding where this difference comes from.

It’s curious that when service is thought of for a real community and the software on which it is based is released… it loses its centralizing role (like Facebook’s), because it focuses on the building of an “island in the net,” provides tools for others, and distances itself from the totalitarian idea of making an alternative to the net.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Esperanto)

David de Ugarte

David de Ugarte 84 ~ February 13th, 2015 ~ 11 ~ 0

Full speed ahead with GNU-Social!!

la Matriz

Almost five years ago, thanks to the Garum Fundatio, we began the development of our first program based on a distributed server architecture: Bazar.

ficha empresa bazarThere were two objectives: on the one hand, to give a tool with free code and a distributed architecture to all those SMEs, cooperatives and communities that decide to take the leap into the market. On the other hand, to start on the path towards a global alternative to the centralized and misnamed “social networks” and their culture of adherence.

Learning from doing

But with Bazar, we made a mistake: developing it in Ruby assumed that groups that were interested in installing it in Spain, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Brazil demanded an installation, administration and maintenance service that the Foundation couldn’t offer and that we should have avoided developing in PHP.

The next distributed development, Letxuga, was built on Python. The idea was to create a standard free program to manage networks of consumers of ecological products. Having been developed for the very concrete needs of a very concrete client, it was developed rapidly for functionality, specific needs, and detail, leaving aside things like the graphical interface, which were unnecessary for daily use, but very important for expanding its use.

Joshua de EnspiralAs we were starting discussions with our friends from Enspiral about how to integrate Loomio into WordPress, we became aware that while all this was happening, “Status” had successfully been migrated to PHP and had become GNU-Social.

Why not turn Bazar and Letxuga into plugins for GNU-Social?

We’re on it. GNU-Social can become the basis of a whole new free software on distributed architectures. We’ve decided to make our contribution with new plug-ins that allow the new distributed architectures to find the direct economy.

Full speed ahead with GNU-Social

But to become familiar, we’ll begin with the most simple, most basic functionality: microblogging in 1000 characters, reviving an old Indiano site originally opened in 2007 as a first distributed response to Twitter:

On La Matriz [which translates into English as “head office,” “matrix,” or “womb”], because the GNU-Social server architecture is distributed, you’ll be able to connect with users and other GNU-Social servers, like, BlogSoviet,,,, Vinilox, gnusocial.of or So, we’re waiting for you to share in the daily conversation and organize your own networks!

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

David de Ugarte

David de Ugarte 84 ~ February 12th, 2015 ~ 11 ~ 2

Time to make a revolution

nat tedxgijón

Last night in TEDxGijón, we witnessed one of those magic moments that occur once a decade… if we’re lucky. Natalia had twelve minutes to tell the structural origins of the crisis, reclaim Boulding, distinguish neoliberalism from the globalization of the small, explain several success stories from the direct economy and propose P2P reindustrialization

tedxnatThe result was much more than that. Even in practice, she had surprised us. As Nat talked, the public, made up mostly of other conference-goers and their friends, paid more and more attention and at the end, broke out in applause — the only case we saw where that happened.

In spite of being scheduled to speak at night, when the public already was very tired, the effect was amazing. Natalia, alone on the stage, got excited, improvising parts of the speech she had previewed for us in the morning. She started directly and got right to the point. She presented Asturias, the “natural paradise,” as a place of productive desertification, not very different, and for similar reasons, from Eastern European countries. But her focus was somewhere else: on turning away from dependence both on grants and on financial capital. And she brought a warning: the “saviour business” isn’t coming, and start-ups won’t rebuild industry or create employment.

She started to give examples, models from the vuvuzela to BQ, outlining a true small-scale, large-scope program for local reindustrialization.

And she had an uncomfortable message for the dominant nationalism and localism: abandon the obsessive idea of “from here,” and put a real effort into “attracting developers, engineers, designers, makers…” that feed a cooperative fabric that makes a place for an unemployed generation and feeds large repositories of free designs.

Natalia was on fire yesterday. There was hope in the embraces and congratulations from the public. It’s time to make a revolution. It’s time for the revolution that a generation dreams of to become a productive revolution.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

David de Ugarte

David de Ugarte 84 ~ February 4th, 2015 ~ 8 ~ 0

Community and abundance


The big lesson of the twentieth century for commonards was to discover that collective decision-making is a “lesser evil,” a response to scarcity that must be limited to situations in which this is inevitable. It’s not necessary for everyone to vote on a uniform if everyone can wear what they want. It’s not necessary to agree on a menu if several different things can be cooked that will completely satisfy everyone.

That is, where one person’s decision does not drastically reduce others’ possible choices, the sphere of the decision should be personal, not collective. Collective choices, democratic methods and voting are ways of managing situations where, more or less explicitly, there is a conflict in the use of resources. They are a “last resort” imposed by scarcity. The point is to avoid, as much as possible, the homogenization that they involve.

That’s why, in a community committed to abundance, the wealth produced is measured by the extent of the personal decision-space. It’s no good to create more goods and income if that doesn’t have an impact on everyone’s option-space. It’s no good to defend individuality if resources are not created to make it possible without conflict.

To gain ground against scarcity, build abundance and therefore continuously enlarge the material base of personal decision-space is the objective of economic activity of an egalitarian community that works. We want be more efficient and more productive to be more free.

Conflicts between community and business

primera comunidad kibutzOne of the ways that commitment manifests economically is in prioritizing the needs of the community and its members over the business. It sounds nice, and it is. It’s also difficult, but not for the reasons normally imagined. In an egalitarian community, no one will hesitate to sacrifice opportunities or savings to support members, their families and their surroundings. The problems don’t come from there. The issue is that producing is absorbent. And we tend to forget that the cooperative is a tool that serves the community, is not the objective of the community.

We all know people who needlessly dedicate more hours to work than they should. Many times, it’s a form of refuge. To allow oneself to be absorbed in work is a more or less unconscious way of not confronting insecurities about family, partner, or friends. A similar thing happens to communities as a whole. When a community doesn’t “notice” priorities other than those of business, it’s no different from each of us when we “substitute” time in those life tasks in which we feel most insecure with work hours. By doing it, we are evading part of our responsibilities to ourselves.

That’s why the cooperative “spontaneously” tends to be the central concern and enforce its logic beyond what’s advisable on things that remain instrumental. This is why almost all communities establish principles to detect, as automatically as possible, cases in which collective decision-making would prefer to be “anti-economic” and take on, with different scopes, a rationality that is different from business in favor of their members, family and surroundings. This principle acts on schedules, spaces, time dedicated to children, funds for training on topics not linked to production, and even about the choice of lines of business.


La fabrica de hallacasThe magic of a community lies in its capacity to make us feel abundance through personal improvement and the enjoyment of sharing. The most everyday way is learning: feeling that we are learning new things, and that this knowledge makes us more autonomous, wiser. The most subtle is coexistence. If a community is functional and its deliberation prospers, their members will shine more and more as they overcome their fears and stand out through their contributions, wherever they are.

But the economy also contributes. The meaning of what we make is not only born of the fact that the knowledge that it incorporates is available all over the world as free software, blueprints or cultural objects. Nor is it limited to the way our products are made being radically different and the human relations that make them possible “bringing a new world.” We have to feel that our work and our contributions ensure the welfare of those we love and improve the life of our surroundings. And that won’t happen if we don’t go out into the market.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

Natalia Fernández

Natalia Fernández 13 ~ January 29th, 2015 ~ 11 ~ 0

Beer, video games and local culture

beer diariesSeveral weeks ago, Obama became the first president to write a line of code. It wasn’t his first nod to the leaders of the coming change. His first contact with the direct economy was through beer. A self-declared fan of this drink, the president bought a beer-making kit, and assigned his cook and part of his domestic team to begin to experiment with home recipes. After several attempts, the White House proudly announced the creation of two beers  and made their recipes public.

obama cerveza artesanaHomebrews and start-up microbreweries have been taking hold in the market, and also expanding as an industrial business model of a new kind: small scale, linked to the surroundings, with value added in design and brand-name positioning.

More than a million people produce beer at home in the US. By 2020, artisanal beer will reach 20% of the US market. The microbrew revolution has already crossed the line from hobby to a new sector that, in 2013, created a hundred thousand jobs. This fact, this industry is beginning to make it viable to launch services for microbreweries and artisan producers.

From video games to beer

Greg ZeschukIn 2012, the founders of Bioware, one of the largest videogame companies, announced their departure from the company. Both said they had lost their passion and enthusiasm. They made it clear that they would maintain a link with the business but would dedicate themselves completely to the launch of new projects. One of them, Ray Muzyka, devoted himself to support for social businesses in education and of health.

The other, Greg Zeschuk, who was fascinated by artisanal beer and the microbrewery movement, created “The Beer Diaries.” His objective: create value for the brewers and their products with a model of direct economy services.

Sense and sensibility

Local Heroes Beer GuideThe Beer Diaries is an online television channel dedicated to artisanal beer, which is continuously searching for new beers, and with each new episode, they expand their map of manufacturers, kinds, and favorite brands. The brewers gain publicity, and the show’s producers discover new flavors. They also publish guides and reviews, promote consumption, and put together live events. If you like their show, you can pay to enjoy it live. They are a communications agency of a new kind, but also an audio-visual producer and product marketing business.

The user trusts their knowledge and selections. It is a buying guide in a market where new sellers continue to join and in which the product identity itself (small batches for local consumption) makes it difficult for the new brands make themselves known. The producers have a themed channel of communication, whose audience is their future customers.

Criteria, not ranking

the beer diariesIn their business model, the accent is on their knowledge of the product and their ability to bring it to the consumer via the Internet. Their niche, for now, is beer, but what makes their viewers loyal is the criterion of selection.

That’s where the strength of their business and their unique contribution reside. Criteria based on ranking, like like Robert Parker’s wine rating system, serves to promote homogeneity at the expense of culture, and increasing demand at the expense of complexity. In other words, Parker-style ranking depends on the irresponsibility of the consumer and promotes an industry of impossible scale and impoverishing standards.

In contrast, to publicize, map, share knowledge, organize parties, and to value the diversity and culture of the product encourages the industry without promoting its concentration or devaluing the meaning that is created at small scales. Probando la cerveza de Michael PatitucciThe model is staked on reinforcing the ability of the brewers to tell their story and on valuing consumers’ responsibility.

And it’s profitable. “The Beer Diaries” is not only a business model, but an ethical model. A way of being and working that promotes the values of an nearby industry. That’s why it’s an excellent example of what services mean in a world of the direct economy.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish).

David de Ugarte

David de Ugarte 84 ~ January 29th, 2015 ~ 8 ~ 0

«Selling out» is a misnomer: How communities are transformed from making the sale

presentacion comercial ventaIn a working productive community, it is everyone’s responsibility to go out and “make the sale”. Selling is, to most people, the scariest form of communication there is. The culture in which most of us are raised radiates fear to go out to the market. It is yet another residue of the authoritarian society. In this case, our “conscience” and the “private logic” will join forces to tell us “we are not good at it”, and that this “it” – selling – is very close to deceiving. But this is false. Selling is a radical act of empathy: it requires us to put ourselves in the other’s shoes, understand her needs and honestly explain her why and how we think our work can help her in what she is trying to achieve.

familyBut it has another side, which is even more difficult and intimate: face our own fear to be rejected, to not be given value to. Our products are a projection of ourselves, of our values and of our work. They have value, and in the end this value is instantiated as a price. Defending a reasonable price, that covers all costs and reflects the value to be received by the client, is not easy. We need to empathize with the person we are dealing with. At the same time – and quite reasonably – she attempts to make the most of her money, that is, in the end, the result of the effort of her work or that of her organization. For her, trying to reduce the price, is her way to show respect for herself and her colleagues. For us, showing firmness in the value of our offer, reducing the amount of work associated to a reduced price is the way we, as sellers, respect our own work and that of our partners. But it is not easy. Our sense of inferiority will surface in the tension associated to the negotiation, and our fear to be discarded will try to take control to achieve “a sale at any price” or, even worse, “a pilot”, “a free sample”… to convert a sale in an involuntary gift will only make things worse.

vendiendoThe trouble with selling is not in the act of selling itself, it is in us. Selling requires courage. Courage to be firm in our honesty, to not doubt the value of our community’s work, and our own. Selling requires us to be moral.

The salesman of the folk tales, the charlatan, the word-quick manipulative person that “sells a comb to a bald man” reflects the archetype of another counterproductive strategy: the survival instinct. Speaking without pause, constantly trying to take the buyer by surprise, offer her something different at the first sign of doubt… all these are expressions of fear. And no, they don’t work. As many combs as we might sell, can you think of any charlatan that ever managed to achieve a comfortable life?

Ganador de la competición de robots 2013We live in a society where the word “merchant” is derogatory. Like many derogatory words rooted in tradition and in religious culture, it is really trying to achieve a sort of exorcism. Demeaning the basis of one’s personal autonomy in an area so important as the market, allows the person pronouncing it to escape a challenge he or she is scared of. The more desirable she, deep down, sees this autonomy, the more she will be comforted by demeaning it.

A small or medium enterprise, a family business, a community that starts producing, needs to secure as soon possible a diverse client base, but selling is also a true test that challenges everyones’s moral fiber.

Selling honestly and respectfully, selling with meaning, attaching the appropriate value to human labor, is an act of self-improvement. It requires confidence in ourselves. It requires consistency with our own compromises. It requires we overcome our fears. And in a community, or a SME trying to bootstrap itself, it simply must be a shared responsibility, something that everybody needs to be able to do, with everyone else’s support. So, nothing reveals the solidity, the intimate strength of a community like its positive attitude towards its commercial, mercantile activities.

(Translated from the original Spanish text by Alberto Cottica and Noemi Salantiu for the Edgeryders community)

David de Ugarte

David de Ugarte 84 ~ January 27th, 2015 ~ 8 ~ 7

Epicurus and Kinkade

kat kinkadeAfter reading Kat Kinkade‘s Is it Utopia Yet?probably the least understandable idea, from an Indiano point of view, would be her concept of open community. According to it, a community has a set of rules, and if you accept them, you can theoretically become a member.

utopia kat kinkadeAs a result, communitarian culture evolves not only through community experience and members’ contributions, but through the changing ideological profile of the different waves of newcomers. Kinkade wonders many times “how could we reach this point,” meaning how could the community absorb so much influence from “New Age” practices and evolve so far from its founding scientific approach to reality.

Indianos take part in an Epicurean communitarian tradition: the community is a “society” of friends. From the Epicurean point of view, friendship (fraternity) and knowledge are the central goals of community itself. So, you will accept and look for people you can become friends with. But you also will put another condition on them: to share basic common contexts, in order to be able to learn together. Consequently, community is something that happens within a cultural and philosophical common ground, not just a set of rules open to everybody.

Why “communities of friends” provide more diversity and freedom

cornucopia de floresAlso related to this Epicurean view, we think community must provide “abundance” in as many fields as possible. [Disclaimer: “abundance” means diversity, not overconsumption or waste.] In the book, there is a creepy Stalinist scene where the community censures the author for installing a microwave oven in Twin Oaks. It is not even an economic issue, the oven was a donation from a friend. Nobody intended to make it mandatory to use it. So, where was the problem? It was, from our point of view, an ideological problem: community took over individual needs, limiting individual action. Assembly artificially produced scarcity and homogenization.

From an Epicurean point of view, community cannot determine what anyone’s needs are, and cannot take sovereignty over individual or personal preferences. Egalitarianism never will work if it assumes everybody’s needs are the same. Each community use to have a characteristic consumption pattern because as we said before, they chose and were chosen within a similar culture, with similar values. But inside a common culture there will be still diversity. In an egalitarian community, there will inevitably be different consumption levels and particular preferences and tastes.

But, as a consequence of shared values and cultural practices, if people have this cultural common ground, everyone’s different needs will fit into the community budget without serious problems, as it happens in income-sharing couples and families all around the world every day. So, the famous “common bank account” can live perfectly well along with personal accounts without questioning the “community of goods,” with only one condition: individuals must commit not to save money in their bank accounts. Something similar happens in other “big” egalitarian communities as, in example, Nieder Kaufungen.

In conclusion

Could American egalitarianism discover interesting ideas in Epicurean communitarian traditions? I would guess so… and we would love to participate in any discussions with materials and thoughts.

David de Ugarte

David de Ugarte 84 ~ January 12th, 2015 ~ 11 ~ 1

A basic dictionary of the “Sharing Economy,” “Sharing Cities,” and communitarianism

cosas a compartir

“Sharing” is more than a trend: for some, it is the engine of their businesses, for others, the touchstone from which to design cities to live in; for some, a way of life. But in any case, it would be good to differentiate these three environments to understand what they really represent and their limits. We must not let the good feelings and words that really mean things end up being emptied and defrauding us.

Sharing as a commercial service = Sharing Economy

The boom in the “sharing economy” is a new dot-com boom. Making it possible for the people “share” objects and services through a platform has become a standard formula for investors, and hundreds of start-ups are presented as the “new Uber”. At the same time a basic criticism emerges more and more: the users share, but the the owners of the platform – the creators and investors – take a substantial part of the benefit created. New business models, like Sensorica or Enspiral propose alternative forms of distribution. But in the end, what are we talking about?

  • compartiendo en peer byCollaborative consumption. The name collaborative consumption refers to a set of practices that substitute or develop services for a community, region or collective through systems that let them share different resources. Among them, a web platform or app establishes the procedure and ways to do it, centralizing the participants around itself.
    • Co-consumption (shared consumption). Neighbors share objects and durable consumer goods that “aren’t worth the trouble to buy.” The best-known model to establish this kind of network would be “Peer by.”
    • Car-sharing. Clubs and businesses that rent cars by the hour or by mileage to a network of “associated” users that pay a small monthly fee. Originally, members of the network shared their cars with others that didn’t have one of their own, but scaling the model, especially with the appearance of giant businesses like “ZipCar,” led to the fleets being owned by the business. What’s original about the model consists of offering an alternative for regular and professional use of the car, as opposed to traditional rental businesses, which are centered on occasional and tourist use. On the other hand, Audi has recently begun to offer prepare buyers’ new cars for micro-car-sharing in its catalog, which seems to indicate a future where “adaptation for sharing” will be among the options for model of other brands.In some subsectors, like RVs, the original role of the platforms is maintained, and, like “Je Loué mon Camping Car,” mediate with a commission between RV owners and those who want rent them for vacations.
    • uberRide sharing (shared-cost travel). Businesses like “Blablacar” put travelers in contact, allowing them share vehicles and trip costs. A variation on this model is the polemical “Uber,” seen by taxi drivers as a form of unregulated competition.
    • Couch Surfing. (In Spanish, “hospitality services.”) Originally networks of private individuals who offered free accommodation in their houses, like “Pasporta Servo,” born twenty years before the web existed. Since becoming a commercial model, hand in hand with platforms like “Airbnb” or “Knok,” they have evolved into global online services of room or apartment rental between private individuals. Some platforms like “WWOOF” specialize in work exchange for accommodation.
    • eat withCo-dining. Platforms that allow that professional chefs or aficionados to organize dinners and thematic meals in private homes or txokos — never restaurants — for an established price. There are several businesses and many clubs with very similar models. An example would be “Eat with.”
    • Co-living. A model that started, initially non-commercially, when life-long “apartment sharing” added dynamics, activities and projects as part of the offer in the search for housemates, as in the example of “Rainbow Mansion.” It soon became a new form of real-estate business in which networks like “Embassy Network” make it possible for someone who has rented a coliving room enjoys a “right of use” in other houses in the network, using an online platform to make reservations and announce their stays.
  • coworkingCollaborative production. Services of collaborative production allow people and small organizations to share spaces, tools and skills in the development of products, services or commercial artwork.
    • Co-working. At the most basic level, sharing work space. Like other services, it began as a spontaneous form of collaboration between freelancers — who were building an environment and relationships — and businesses that were optimizing the use of office space and were building relationships. Soon, it made the leap to a real-estate business: everywhere, investors appeared who outfitted workspaces to share and added stimulus programs to facilitate networking and, in some cases, even help in the incubation of business ideas.
    • Co-design and co-creation. Platforms like “Sensorica” create spaces and provide tools for discussion and industrial design to different professionals who collaborate on the design and development of a product and finally participate of the results of its sale. A similar format has been explored by musicians and other artists, with platforms like “RedPanal.”
    • kickstarterCo-financing. Surely the most transformative facet of the “sharing economy.” If “Kiva” let thousands of people finance microenterprises in poverty zones with minimal management costs, “Kickstarter” allowed for the financing of projects of direct economy without their promoters having to commit to surrendering ownership. In fact, the “crowdfunding” model turns purchasing in advance and symbolic support into an alternative to funding as such through capital investment or a loan.

Sharing as a city model = Sharing Cities

car sharingAs we’ve seen, a good part of these services were born of groups of citizens with a genuine desire to share. When the models were consolidated, they were converted or adopted by businesses. But that was the evolution necessary? For many, it’s a legitimate question that coincides with criticism of the model “smart city,” understood by many as the corporate and controlling city model. From that conversation, the emergent concept of the “sharing city” would be born. This is about applying to the city what was learned from the “sharing economy” to achieve greater well-being with a more efficient use of public resources from the joint work of citizen groups, businesses and local administrations.

  • Shared transportation. The integration of car-sharing and bicycle rental on public transportation networks, following the Bremen model, is beginning to spread across both the USA and Europe.
  • Administration as citizen platform. Sharing services and consumer goods allows a more efficient use of resources and therefore reduces waste and its treatment and management costs. That’s what “Zero Waste,” waste-treatment business of South Australia’s government, thought, and so it launched “Share and Save.” It’s an open-source web platform that lists and geopositions all activities and citizen exchanges oriented to sharing all kinds of things.
  • guifi netServices and distributed infrastructures. These are movements that make real the possibility of creating abundance through participation and citizen collaboration in distributed networks. They have demonstrated their ability in matters as apparently difficult and costly as the generation of a free (libre) citizen telecommunications infrastructure on the model — or renewable energy — where models and technological alternatives for distributed production are emerging.
  • The new urban commons. With the economic crisis, many city halls gave space to self-managed and open groups of citizens for all manner of social activities that were incorporated into public services. It’s a new urban “commons” of spaces and services that is taking the lead not only in entertainment-educational services — like urban gardens — but that also serve as a base for new municipal systems of citizenship co-management like accompanying senior citizens with volunteers, etc.

Sharing as a lifestyle = Communitarianism

Putting sharing at the center of life itself and not only of business or city models, has been, since Antiquity, the objective of the communitarian movement and the focus of its experience.

  • creando una vida juntosIntentional communities. Since the meaning of “community” is so different depending on the cultural and ideological context of the person using it, the concept of “intentional community,” born in the USA, has a certain bias that makes it difficult to comprehend outside of Anglo-Saxon culture. Generally, it is used for groups that, normally bound by a common social or religious ideology, and moved by the desire to live under under certain “community standards,” decide to build a town together, inhabit the same neighborhood, or share a house. This almost never means that they share ownership of the houses more than temporarily, and only on very rare occasions do they work together in a cooperative or businesses owned in common. At the center of the idea of the “intentional community” is “community standards,” values and rules of shared co-existence in a given place. The creators of this kind of community create them to live in accordance with them, and normally, the most important part of the foundation is the founders designing of the set of norms, neighborly practices, and decision-making systems that they will use in their coexistence. That is why it turns out to be clearer to separate “intentional communities” from the communities of shared economy.
    • rawnsley ecoaldea australiaCo-housing. A term (the English word is not translated in Spanish) that describes communities with services and facilities shared among homeowners. Influenced by the ideas of the German social-democratic theoretician August Bebel, since the beginning of the twentieth century, a part of social housing and housing cooperatives in Germany, Austria, Holland and other European countries begin to incorporate common services: kitchen, dining room, kindergarten, laundry room, etc.- as a way of building interaction and commitment between their members over time. The model endures up to today, having spread to the USA (where it took its current name) and shaped neighborhood buildings custom-designed to develop a community social life of their own.
    • ecoaldea en inglaterraEcovillages. A term that arose in the nineties to talk about settlements founded on “community standards,” whose objective is to minimize the environmental impact of the group. Ecovillages were created out of more or less sophisticated versions of housing cooperatives, with the group as a whole buying the lands, and later dividing it up among the members, normally after building a certain amount of basic infrastructure.
    • Thematic cities and towns. Beyond ecovillages, reconstructed or recovered towns, new settlements and even “experimental” cities like the famous “Auroville” in India or “Celebration,” the town created by Disney within their initiative called “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT), work under a similar model, which mixes private property with a rigid “internal constitution” that seeks to maintain the continuity and integrity of a given community experience.
  • Egalitarian communities. This is the name for communities that hold resources that sustain it in common, starting with the land, and including the facilities and the product of the labor of their members. The distribution is carried out jointly as a function of the needs of each of members. They are mostly ruled by decision-making systems based on consensus.
    • villa locomunaIncome-sharing communities. These are communities that share the ownership of housing — normally a large house, a building or a group of small buildings — in which members put their revenue into a common fund. Although this kind of community was born and became stable in Israel in the ’70s, it soon spread across Germany and the Nordic countries. Their members not only seek a community life, but completely mutualize life risks and create strong solidarity networks. The model spread to the US with the real-estate crisis, when groups of youth were able to buy buildings at a low cost and establish themselves in them.
    • Nieder KaufungenProductive communities. These are egalitarian communities that not only share their income, but also produce together. They are the product of the egalitarian European idea according to which the center of society, and therefore of social problems, is in production and in the manner in which things are produced. That’s why the idea of producing together — which means “learning together” — under a structure of shared responsibilities, distributing the result according to the needs of every one, is the common element of the communitarian model, which has been followed by egalitarian colonies of the nineteenth century, Israeli kibbutzim, and the large networks of European and American egalitarian communities of today.
      • hilado para las redes en Twin OaksAgrarian communities. The most widespread model in Germany and Austria, in the Francophone world, and USA. These are agrarian settlements that, while they have developed industry and services, like the famous Twin Oaks community in Virginia or Nieder Kaufungen in Germany, continue to have a strong agricultural component and their life, products and relationship with their surroundings are marked by being outside of big cities.
      • Urban communities. These were born at the beginning of the twenty-first century, associated with the development of cooperativism of new technological services and with the idea of phyle, first in the Spanish-speaking world and later in the US. In both places, they are groups born out of conversation on the Internet. They produce services and products of high value added linked to the green economy, the direct economy or P2P production. Over the long term, their social model is focused on building broader transnational networks with other agrarian and urban egalitarian communities, but also with cooperatives and small enterprises, to all together develop autonomous systems of social protection for their members.


Sharing is one of the values on the rise of the world that is coming out of the crisis. It informs the new business and city models, but also the new lifestyles and the objectives of the small groups and alternative models around which new ideas and ways of making things are catalyzed. But in any case, it’s good to be clear on what the possibilities and context of each of these facets are. Let’s make sure we don’t erode the meaning of the word, and with it, the trust and hope it transmits today.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

Carolina Ruggero

Carolina Ruggero 2 ~ January 8th, 2015 ~ 8 ~ 1

People or landscapes

Mapa del FuerteI don’t know many urban models. I grew up in a typical square one and then, when I was grown, I met medieval cities, with their concentric streets and walls.

A few months ago, visiting the Archeological Museum in Oviedo, I looked at the models of the fortified villages, with their walls, and I wondered what they defended themselves against. They defended themselves against the other fortified villages but, beyond being people of very violent habits, they defended themselves against scarcity.

CastroWhat is considered scarce at any moment shapes the places we choose to live: from ports to windows, from the gardens and public parks to basements, from the wide streets to a market or a storehouse.The air, the light, the views, isolation, overcrowding, bridges, the sewers, common lands, schools and workshops, all are part of our lifestyle, whether desired or imposed.

Ciudad utópicaCities often have limits that are both historical and natural, other times they can expand as far as the horizon allows. Speculation, the State, weather conditions, real powers, real communities… all are part of forming the city and the immediate perceptions we have of them. But what happens when there are real or imagined communities that swim up stream and try locate their lifestyle in accordance with the place where they live?


countryCountry clubs, suburbs, gated communities… are all ways of organizing the territory in such a way that that public spaces belong to the homeowners or the companies that administrate them. However, their major objective is the to provide a certain social status to their neighbors, providing items that are considered scarce: a socially homogeneous community of neighbors, fresh air, security, isolation. Distinction.

Barrio cerradoIn some cities, the value of gated suburbs has came to mean so many things that there are even some that have the feel and layout of a poor neighborhood on the outskirts. Surely their inhabitants seek to differentiate themselves from their neighbors who live similarly but without a fence and a barrier in the doorway, maybe to feel a little closer to those in the same area who built neighborhoods with houses like something you’d see in a movie, with golf courses and swimming pools; neighborhoods where it’s the weekend every day of the year.

These neighborhoods grew out of a narrative of the search for more security (in any of the different definitions of the term), green space, peace and quiet, enjoyment and health, above all for the children. A kind of “back to basics” that the city doesn’t allow.

Is this not a similar narrative to ecovillages’ narratives?

ecoaldeaDoesn’t someone who decides go to live in an ecovillage also declare they are getting “back to basics” in a way that blames the city for denying us our values? Aren’t they also seeking distinction?

I’m mainly talking about the ecovillages that have practically the same real estate business model (which happen to be the majority), even if they swap pools for common gardens.

People or landscapes

From the most luxurious, exclusive or original private neighborhoods to the most untamed experiences, it seems that the goal is a landscape, a scene that coincides with a fantasy. Your neighbors will have that fantasy in common.

plano-nordeltaAs a member of the upper crust, you will look for matches with those want the same scenario for their lives, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a golf course or a common garden, that’s the point of contact. There is no common project, or shared objectives, only the need for distinction.

A different life project that does not include the variable “with whom will I move forward and how?” is just a search for a landscape. To leave the city, with the randomness of its common spaces and its neighbors, to build a fiction with people you decide to treat as equals because of their similar taste in pools or bricks, is less than a tourist experience, and is very different from projects between people who want to create alternative realities. Possible worlds.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

David de Ugarte

David de Ugarte 84 ~ January 3rd, 2015 ~ 11 ~ 0

Four bets on change that will come in 2015


  1. Bruce Sterling said back in 2002 that the new political movements that would reflect the social changes that were taking shape with the start of the century would have “passion for the vote.” In the English-speaking world, we had an advance this year with Loomio, and in our cultural surroundings, with the release of the code of Democracia OS. But things are already moving politically and socially with the founding of Podemos and the debates on how to create mass online participation.

    Bet 1 2015 will be the year hundreds of municipalities start up the first systems of citizen co-government using the Internet.

  2. We began 2014 with mandatory single servings of olive oil, a law that sought transfer rents from small producers and restaurants to oil multinationals. The cherry on top of the electric reform was to make us pay big electric companies for the solar energy we produced ourselves, and we closed 2014 with the AEDE tax and the government saying that “the Government created the legislation just the way the editors of the mass media proposed it.” In 2015, things will be clear even to the most blind: the only future project Big Business is capable of in our day is trying to capture more and more rents through the State. Imagination is only useful for feeding a self-interested nationalism in which, at best, innovation means that multinationals get grants to compete against the young and the innovative.

    Bet 2 With this narrative and this political collusion, Big Business will become even more unpopular in 2015. The startup narrative will go from an uninspiring media mantra to being denounced as pure and simple speculation in jobs.

  3. In contrast, the technological revolution is moving more than ever. If it doesn’t seem to fascinate the major media any more, that’s because what interests them and what they support are technologies that recentralize power, especially economic power. They give the cold shoulder, and sometimes bared fangs, to new technologies and social practices that redistribute power. But, even though there’s no hype, these things are unstoppable. With the pioneers of the direct economy maturing and opening factories in the middle of industrial desertification, the idea of crisis of scale will become part of social debate, and industrial policies driven by citizen participation will focus on new models of production.

    Bet 3 If last year was the year of collaborative consumption, this will be the year of the emergence of a direct economy that brings the industrial world closer to the P2P mode of production.

  4. In an environment of alternative reflections and P2P movements, if in 2014 the rise of Syriza and Podemos served to show that a change of scene was starting to happen in Europe, 2015, with the forseeable electoral triumphs of “new Left,” will bring the focus back towards what that scenario allows. The P2P Foundation will go into greater depth with its “Open Coop” model with allies like the CICand its own interpretation of the phyle, initiatives born at the periphery of the Anglo-Saxon world like Enspiral and Sensorica wll turn platform models that serve as an interface between the market and hacker networks and SMEs into a “replicable system.” Meanwhile, our own, dear Anĉovoligo will continue growing and organizing networks and activities after its debut last October.

    Bet 4 In 2015, the topic among activists and researchers of P2P and other alternative models will not be theoretical debate, but rather in the practical organization of networks and little transnational “clusters” of cooperatives and P2P collectives with a view to creating a space productive of their own, a phyle. We will likely see — and have — big slip-ups and many attempts that come to nothing, but also the first seeds of a new kind of networks that are able to “take care of” their members beyond sporadic solidarity.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

What is «las Indias»?

la Matriz

Natalia Fernández13 ~ February 22nd, 2015 ~ 0

Own the change

A few days ago Shareable published a post about a new documentary that seeks to promote cooperativism and show how local economies based on cooperatives contribute to creating more resilient surroundings. It’s noteworthy in the first minutes of the documentary that the main idea, the drive shaft that connects pieces of the story, is none other than ownership.

A cooperative explained in the very simplest terms is an organization that, in an egalitarian way, practices the formula of one worker, one share, one vote. Our emphasis on this message, without a doubt, has to do with our fascination with discovering a form of organization that, traditionally in the English-speaking world, has been used for consumption. Transferred to production, cooperativism in the US is coming together as a real option to recover the economy of the great industrial cores devastated by the crisis. And also the world of professional services, of commerce, or healthcare.

We discovered it with Evergreen a few years ago. Cooperative pride has a lot to do with making business ownership accessible to many who never dreamed of being able to move on from being employees, or of the possibility of modifying and transforming the productive system. It’s exciting!

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

Manuel Ortega6 ~ February 22nd, 2015 ~ 0

An inevitable collision: Centralizing networks against personal autonomy

warm_bodies-wideIn recent years we have been through “a zombie attack” against the socialization and culture born in the Internet. This is known as the stage of recentralization, whose best-known proponent is the FbT-model. This is a socialization model that cut off conversations, wherever they took root, and the birth of new identities and the abundance of the Internet generally. There was no lack of strategies, and in fact, the distributed world worked for the creation of vaccine against the virus. But the response to this attack finally came from something much more basic and fundamental: Personal autonomy. Already, the debate on net topologies is a debate about the autonomy you have to participate in the creation of information, the definition of your agenda, and the possibilities you have to be authentic. The collision was inevitable, and — just like in the great movie “Warm Bodies,” something was alive in the zombies, they weren’t completely dead — our desire for personal autonomy was still alive. This explains the birth of, perhaps not numerous, but more and more islands in the net that are betting on a distributed world. The key words of the future are autonomy and sovereignty.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Esperanto)

David de Ugarte84 ~ ~ January 13th, 2015 ~ 0

The New Global Militant

ucraniaYesterday I watched a PBS documentary about the rise of ISIS. Around minute 43, a phrase caught my attention. Explaining how ISIS arrived to a tipping point in recruitment, the script noted that the group itself had been surprised at the massive response of a generation who

wants to be part of something special, they want to be part of something successful

Today, an report in “El País” quoting “Le Parisien” includes a statement of the lawyer of one of the murderers of the massacre of Paris describing him as:

a clueless guy who did not know what to do with his life and who met people who made ​​him feel important

I guess it is quite clear in jihadism but in reality is the generalization of these feelings that make militant movements of all kinds reach their tipping point. What happens these days is that we are nearing the time when the new political movements begin to be credible winners. And people are pointing to star in a historic change… the most credible in every different place or circumstance.

Of course will not produce the same results if is ISIS who capitalize that feeling in Syria and Iraq or if it will be the new PKK in Kurdistan. And if we look at Europe Ukrainian nationalism has not the same values than SYRIZA or Podemos. But from the point of view of network analysis it is a very similar phenomenum: The protagonist of the great social movements is changing worldwide.

The time of the young European jihadist who was able to destroy himself as a way to defy an unquestionable power has passed away as the time of the cyberactivist who wanted to change social consensus promoting new social conversations.

Lets remember two slogans from the quotes: “feel important” and “be part of something successful”. Those will be the magic words of all the mobilizing discourses during the coming years.

Manuel Ortega6 ~ August 24th, 2014 ~ 0

“Not-English” is the world’s most spoken language

bla_blaIn many conversations about the expansion of languages and the use of English as a lingua franca, we hear statements about English being the most spoken language in the world. It is important to remember that the reality is quite different, the most spoken language in the world is “not-English,” i.e., all the other languages. The figures, which can be found in “The World Factbook,” clearly reflect this reality. In the light of this fact, it should also be noted that beyond the figures, the important points to note in the discussion about overcoming language barriers and the adoption of a lingua franca, are others, namely the rents and power structures supported by the adoption of a national language as a lingua franca, in this case English, and its limitations beyond superficial interactions.

Functional English, like all jargon, is useful for superficial interactions. For example, when a waiter in a cafe in Antalya describes the view of the sea as very beautiful. But it reaches its limits in the context of university education, a higher intellectual function that fully mobilizes our language skills. Because only on rare occasions do we see the same level of precision and nuance in a learned language as in the mother tongue. That iron law of linguistic competence is confirmed even in countries known for their knowledge of English.

David de Ugarte84 ~ July 26th, 2014 ~ 1

Bruce Sterling against the disguised recentralization of the “Sharing Economy” and “Smart Cities”

brucesterlingWhat happens if the taxis of major cities are replaced by Uber? What if a central part of your urban transportation system depends on an app based on California? Do you think that a city hall could stand up to an multinational with the kind of battles it wages against taxi unions? What happens when your streets and your cars are commodities that are coordinated thanks to software and a set of rules that you don’t control? And perhaps the most clarifying: Do you really think that in California would let its transportation system be run from Barcelona?

All these questions are part of the conclusions Bruce Sterling draws about “Smart Cities.” The discourse on the “Sharing Economy” has detoured the debate and hidden the project of recentralization of networks and the power of the Internet giants. But it’s still there. And as the father of cyberpunk reminds us, it not only has political consequences in the city, but globally, and geopolitically.

So, does Sterling want to close the door on the “Sharing Economy” or the “Smart City?” Absolutely not. He’s simply reminding us that is a battlefield on which the different subjects must recognize what network structures and what architectures of power create a world where we have space. And in recentralization, there’s no space for citizenship.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

David de Ugarte84 ~ ~ July 13th, 2014 ~ 2

Community and happiness

imageThe Philosopher’s Mail, the blog of Alain de Botton and the followers of atheism 2.0, published an article about the Epicureans. Its most interesting aspect is that, in a nutshell, it proposes that Epicurean communitarianism is based on its founder’s minimalist definition of happiness:

With his analysis of happiness in hand, Epicurus made three important innovations:

Firstly, he decided that he would live together with friends. Enough of seeing them only now and then. He bought a modestly priced plot of land outside of Athens and built a place where he and his friends could live side by side on a permanent basis. Everyone had their rooms, and there were common areas downstairs and in the grounds. That way, the residents would always be surrounded by people who shared their outlooks, were entertaining and kind. Children were looked after in rota. Everyone ate together. One could chat in the corridors late at night. It was the world’s first proper commune.

Secondly, everyone in the commune stopped working for other people. They accepted cuts in their income in return for being able to focus on fulfilling work. Some of Epicurus’s friends devoted themselves to farming, others to cooking, a few to making furniture and art. They had far less money, but ample intrinsic satisfaction.

And thirdly, Epicurus and his friends devoted themselves to finding calm through rational analysis and insight. They spent periods of every day reflecting on their anxieties, improving their understanding of their psyches and mastering the great questions of philosophy.

Epicurus’s experiment in living caught on. Epicurean communities opened up all around the Mediterranean and drew in thousands of followers. The centres thrived for generations – until they were brutally suppressed by a jealous and aggressive Christian Church in the 5th century. But even then, their essence survived when many of them were turned into monasteries.

De Botton forgets that that Epicurean, familiar, and mixed monasticism of the 5th century, common and even dominant in places like the Iberian peninsula and the island of Ireland, was gradually enclosed from Rome and finally removed with the Gregorian reform. The spirit of Epicurean communitarianism would then begin to thrive in a very different environment. But that’s another story.

Translated by Alan Furth from the Spanish original.

las Indias21 ~ May 17th, 2014 ~ 1

Market activism

Aesires en acción (From Indianopedia) Market activism is our term for the design and trade of products with the goal of spreading values and ideas. The name was coined in 2012 by Juanjo Pina from “aesirs,” based on a previous debate on entrepreneuralism held by “las Indias Group of Cooperatives” since 2009, linking the idea of the phyle to the medieval arts and guilds:

We believe the kind of knowledge that enables us to make beautiful and socially useful things cannot be reduced to technical knowledge. It must contain a social meaning, a work ethic and a worldview. Goods offered in the marketplace carry with them a vision of the world, of social projects and a moral points of view.

Some examples

  • In 2007 the indianos combatted «rankism», a narrative on the blogsphere spread by the media that we saw as a danger to its distributed structure. As a response, we developed feevy, the first dynamic blog-roll for blogs. It not only made it easy to link and share audiences between blogs, it made it obvious that the “star blogger system” was just a media myth. Feevy had soon 60,000 users/blogs, making it possible to map hundred of thousands of blogs in Spanish and how they were connected. We called this map the map of flowers, and was, itself, a refutation of the narrative imposed by the mainstream media. Feevy, carefully developed not to use personal data, was programmed as free software, and its platform sold later to a a big firm.
  • Since 2011, the whole “neovenetianist milieu” did its best to transform its knowledge into useful tools to combat the European unemployment crisis:
  • In 2010, Alain de Botton launched his atheism 2.0. His main tool would be “The School of life,” an international chain of stores supplying consumer goods, courses and motivational seminars for businesses

las Indias21 ~ April 22nd, 2014 ~ 0

Vote for Guerrilla Translation in the 2014 OuiShare Awards

Our friends of Guerrilla Translation are among the nominees for the 2014 Ouishare Awards. You can vote for them or in any case know a little more about them and this Awards.

las Indias21 ~ February 11th, 2014 ~ 3

The fruits of an interesting life

festival-de-las-linternasToday our front page has a new banner: series. That’s what we have called the thematic threads that have been forming since we started to focus “El Correo de las Indias” on the idea of an interesting life. And in fact, the first series tries precisely to answer the question what is an interesting life? This leitmotif that was born in another series, the only one now finished: “Towards a new narrative,” by Juan Urrutia. And of course, we can’t leave out our love of cooking, our pulp heroes, and Go. They all continue growing and will appear again in the future. For the moment take a peek, and we hope that you’ll like them.

(Note from your translator: if there are older posts you want to see translated, please leave a comment!)

David de Ugarte84 ~ February 7th, 2014 ~ 0

What’s left when the state falls?

These days, the press all over the world is talking about the Michoacan self-defense movement, since the Mexican State is confronting them, after letting the “Knights Templar” camp there for years. This mafia was the beneficiary of decomposition, accelerated by the State itself, of the formerly, and sadly celebrated “Michoacan family.” The debate is now the typical trap of decomposition between the defense of the monopoly on violence by the state and the verification of a captured and corrupt state that for years abandoned the life and treasure of thousands of people to a terrible mafia.

So rather than entering the debate, I’d like to draw attention to an element of “self-defense” and the form that its process of legitimation took: the reemergence of a series of forms, like open town councils, which come from the birth of urban democracy in medieval Europe.

These forms are not “natural,” but rather cultural and historical. Born with urban development, they became revolutionary in community revolts, and reappeared in the open crisis of the Napoleonic wars – which led to the birth of the Mexican State – and during the large civilian conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries. And now they return in the middle of decomposition. Quijote told Sancho on the path to the island of Barataria to “be careful of your vassals or they will take the government from you or form communities by themselves.” The “Long live the commoners!” shout is heard in the Michoacan town halls. In my view, there are issues here to reflect upon and learn from.


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