There’s a map for that

Hola de mi casa en Buenos Aires!

It has been awhile since I’ve checked in, but I’ve been busy navigating the exciting capital of Argentina, trying to disguise myself as a Porteña. Che, me llamo Mica y estoy tomando mate (llamo is pronounced sha-mo of course).

However, my absence is no commentary on the cooperative movement in Argentina, which is clearly thriving. Cooperatives that were part of the ‘fabrica recuperada’ movement were made internationally famous in Naomi Klein’s 2004 documentary, The Take (La Toma), which I would highly recommend. It gave me my first introduction to the complex political history of Argentina and how it interacts with the cooperative movement. But there are hundreds of other worker coops here that range from restaurants to hotels to bookstores to software development companies.

I have connected with a few tech cooperatives here in Buenos Aires, and last week I attended a launch event for an app by the cooperative GCoop. GCoop develops software libre, or software that allows users to freely run, copy, distribute, study, modify, and update.

In a packed auditorium of the Centro Cultural de Cooperación, a multi-sector team presented the collaborative work they had done on ESSApp. ESS stands for Economía Social y Solidaria, and ESSApp allows users to find organizations all over Argentina connected to the social and solidarity economy such as cooperatives, media companies, cultural centers, fairs, and markets. The map will continue to grow in a collaborative manner as groups to upload photos and other data to their point on the map. The webpage also includes a calendar that advertises events like workshops or fairs and a news feed so users can stay connected to the pulse of the solidarity economy. Again, check out the map here. It will definitely give you a sense of how developed the ESS is in Argentina.

Speakers at the ESSApp launch event
The GCoop team at their very colorful offices (who needs the Google campus, right?)

This is not the first solidarity economy mapping project that I’ve come across during my Waston. I was similarly impressed with a project in Catalonia, PamaPam. It has a different look but functions very similarly to ESSApp. Inspired by these projects, I reached out to the lovely cooperators on Mastodon, a decentralized and open-source social network (that you should all join), who pointed me to examples of this in the US. Check out Vermont’s co-op map or TransforMap, which aims to “visualize the commons transition.”

I’ve been continually interested in and inspired by maps over the last few months. There are people all over the world who are frustrated with capitalism’s hegemony and who are creating economic alternatives that are more sustainable, just, and democratic. One of the keys to growing that movement is connectivity and visibility. Again, like the co-op bookstore and organizing center La Ciutat Invisible, these maps are making these invisible alternatives visible.

So I have decided to make my own map! Clearly I’m not addicted to blogging, so I’ve been shifting my attention away from longer written pieces to a more easily digestible Story Map of the coops and other solidarity economy organizations that I’ve connected with on my travels. The map will serve to document my journey and findings while also helping people connect with and support the solidarity economy while they travel.

Here are some data points that I am planning on including in the map:

  • Location
  • Services or mission
  • A brief history
  • Key takeaways and biggest lessons learned from each coop
  • Audio clips from our interviews (anyone know how to include this on ArcGIS story maps?)
  • Website and social media links
  • Links to other maps like PamaPam and ESSApp when they are available in a region

What else would you like to see on my map?

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