Call for reports – municipalism and the common

Dear cooperators (is that a word?),

Yesterday in the meeting we decided to apply to this nice call for reports about “municipalism and the common”, launched by the Municipalism Observatory:

I am happy to coordinate the research and writing process, and whoever is interested is more than welcome to join me! They are offering between 750 and 1500 € to the selected applications, which could go entirely to Coop Brum (unless someone without a salary wants to get involved in the writing process, in which case I would advocate for paying something to this person).

The only thing I need to make clear is that I will need some kind of individual authorship (it could still be published as Cooperation Birmingham, but with a mention that I was involved in the research and writing). I am sorry to ask this, and I know there’s a discussion about researchers and Coop Brum that still needs to happen, but I also believe that I have made clear my compromise with the organisation.

I will use this thread to post all information about the application and to get some feedback if people have thoughts about it.

Also, if you would like to get involved, just contact me or post something here.

Love and solidarity

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for clarity i am supporting sergio with this application

Hi all, just an update. Sean and I have submitted the application and we will hear back from Minim by the end of next week. This is what we wrote:

Who is conducting the research and what’s your experience as a researcher/activist? (50 words)
The research will be conducted by Cooperation Birmingham, a mutual aid organisation based in Birmingham (UK). It will be coordinated by Sergio Ruiz Cayuela and Sean Farmelo, who have more than a decade experience in social movements, political organisations and cooperatives and PhD researchers at Coventry University and Birmingham City University.

What does municipalism mean to you? How do you see it connecting with the concept of the common? (150 words)
We understand municipalism as the process through which citizens - understood in a non-exclusionary way as everyone who inhabits a certain territory - exercise collective power to manage their living environment using direct democracy. Municipalism is a model that, unlike the hierarchical centralisation inherent in representative politics, proposes confederated assemblies where power flows bottom-up, but that still can respond to global issues. Municipalism also points to a transformation of the economy, which needs to be taken back and feminised: an economy for the common good that puts life (and not profit) at the centre.
The idea of municipalism connects with commoning in that both emerge as potentially emancipatory alternatives to the public/private dichotomy, ones based on direct democracy, care, cooperation and self-organisation. In fact, municipalism could be seen as the struggle to reclaim the municipality as a commons in order to democratise the decision making and administration of a city.

What would you like to write about? What questions will the report try to answer? (200 words)
We will analyse our experience at Cooperation Birmingham. We will investigate the route for a mutual aid grassroots organisation to become an institution of the commons following the principles of libertarian municipalism. The report will draw on what we have already accomplished; we will also discuss our long-term plans as an organisation.
Particular questions that might be addressed:
- What’s the relationship between material autonomy and social reproduction on one side, and base building and social legitimacy on the other?
- How are interactions with state institutions and the market conducted? How do we avoid co-optation and being pulled into the NGO complex?
*- The process of conversion of an object (city square, garden) or means of production (transport, restaurant or service) into a commons. How can this be done effectively and what are the corollaries of this commoning process relating to municipalism? *
*- How has engagement with the solidarity kitchen meal commons production with Co-operation Birmingham helped participants connect with political ideas like municipalism? *
- Municipalism and the commons both approach power not as something that has to be controlled by people, instead beyond: power has to be built by the people. How does this work in practice?

How will you conduct the research? (150 words)
We frame this investigation as a way to shed light on some critical issues that affect Cooperation Birmingham and other similar organisations. Sergio and Sean are active members of Cooperation Birmingham, so their personal experiences in their everyday involvement will be given a central importance, in what has been described as practices of militant ethnography.
This will be combined with two workshops open to everyone who has ever participated in Cooperation Birmingham. In the first one, we will collect thoughts and perspectives from other members to complement our own points of view. In the second one, we will present the preliminary results of our research and get feedback from other members.
We will complement the workshops with discussion posts at our open online forum. In that way, we aim to include the opinions of those unable to attend the workshops and those who prefer to express themselves in written form.