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We’re inviting people to help shape our Festival for 2013 and learn skills on how to create their own in the process. Out of the journey we travelled on (and did we travel!) to develop this year’s Festival and indeed the Cooperative itself, each city group, each member, will have their personal stories of ideas they crafted into activities.

The Transeuropa Social Market we’re working on with @tschoollondon is an activity that has been influenced as much by the spaces it took place in (such as @piataautonoma) as by the ideas that gave birth to it, such as the commons.

In fact, it began as a question mark! I’ll explain…One of the themes for a recent festival we did was “Social Europe”. Did this mean turning Europe into one transnational pub crawl-booze cruise? Or did it mean exploring what social rights and conditions could improve societies across the continent?

Naturally, it was always more likely to be the latter, but maintaining a certain creative ambiguity gives oxygen to the issue to be expressed in an innovative way.

This is how the idea of a “social market” came about in the thematic group working on “Social Europe”. It was a “pied de nez” at the policy makers that come up with this triangulating “think tank patois” – so that everyone could be pleased that Europe would have more social justice and more economic efficiency (you may have heard that line before…)

More importantly, it was about deconstructing the “social” and the “market” to the meanings that most people assign to them, to socialise with the people around you and to buy and sell at the market the things you need to get by.

Except most people don’t do either anymore, with the emergence of the “walled gardens” of gated communities and shopping malls (online and offline), so it’s very difficult to talk about social rights in environments where individual rights dominate.

But what about if you started exploring these issues in spaces where people can be social in how they interact with the economy and can make markets work for them and each other.

In other words, where the relationship is a more important currency than the transaction. So that’s how the idea of a “social market” came about.

Over the next few posts, you’ll see the activities that expressed this idea. People often find it difficult to make sense of the richness of debates about issues that are really complex to grapple with. They will either spend too long fighting over the terms of the debate to control the definition of the solution. Or they will spend too little acknowledging the creative tensions and settle for a weak compromise.

If people spend a bit more time exploring the problems in a creative way, they can find more people wanting to come together to create common solutions.

In the meantime, click on one of the tabs to get involved!