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Interview of Oscarina Camillo, Cooperativa de Trabalho na Área de Psicologia - Coop Mútua-Ação (Work Cooperative in the Field of Psychology - Mutual Action Coop in Santo André (Brasil, Sao Paolo)

Oscarina is a representative of the workers affiliated to the Brazilian ECOSOL movement, leader of the Sao Paulo Solidarity Economy Forum (Foro Paulista de Economía Solidaria), and second representative of the southeastern region in the executive coordination of the BSEF-Brazilian Solidarity Economy Forum.

Rosemary Gomes, marzo 2004

I - What is the main goal of your economic activity?

 

 

The cooperative’s field of activity is Psychology – the group chose Community Social Psychology because it understood that this option’s social commitment enables social inclusion, apart from fostering the members, as the work carried out demands the continuous training of the professionals involved. It is indeed necessary to generate income for everyone, as well as to value collective work, which is what the cooperative strives to do every day.

 

 

II. Are you engaged in a DIFFERENT economy? How does it differ from the dominant economy?

 

 

I understand that the option of working in group already set us apart from acting individually in private practice - the cooperative’s clinic favors community work without leaving individual clinical work aside. We choose the professionals that will work in projects outside the clinic, and those which will do clinical work only. Any excess is distributed according to the number of hours worked, and all the activities performed in the cooperative are divided and shared, always seeking to reach a consensus in the group.

 

 

III. What does ABUNDANCE mean to you? Is material abundance an aim or the means to achieve something else? What is that something else?

 

 

Abundance is synonymous with large amounts, great availability of goods and services – it can also be more than what is enough or necessary to live on. In a work cooperative, for example, abundance would be everybody engaged in a diversity of projects, dealing with a variety of clients, with the cooperative being able to invest in materials to enhance its potential for intervention, expanding its insertion in the local economy. In a cooperative, abundance of cooperation and mutual help is always welcomed, whereas economic abundance in the capitalist model only promotes competition, where those who have more prevail - because they are more able than the rest. It is not like that in a cooperative.

 

 

IV. What VALUES do you and your fellow workers put into practice in your daily life and at work? Is it possible, in your opinion, for these values to become the predominant values of society as a whole? How can they be mainstreamed?

 

 

As I said before, if we strive to cooperate and collaborate in the day to day activities of the cooperative, we must also express these values in our relationships, in our families. Such a wave of transformations through contacts would promote a global change. If we focus on formal education, by inserting these values in the daily life of our children’s and grandchildren’s schools, we would be preparing them to take ownership of the new economic order. The necessary changes are both structural and short-term, merely theoretical discussion is not enough, it is necessary to experience this in the day to day, thus learning in practice the meaning of collective work, of consensus, of respect for diversity; it is not an easy task. The solidarity culture is something new if compared to capitalism which is centuries old and rooted in the minds of people. Such a change of paradigm depends on systematic efforts to enlighten and raise awareness -both at the grassroots level and among the general population- as to what mutual help is, the mutual dependence that exists within a collective work group. If someone makes a mistake, everybody suffers the consequences.

 

 

{{V. What innovations have you developed in terms of organization, management and the appropriation of the fruits of labor?

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In a work cooperative -in this case a Psychology cooperative- translating services into value depends on each project, on the number of professional involved, on the number of hours of field work, etc. We establish a set value/hour for professional fees and for managing the cooperative. The professionals involved in the project earn according to the number of hours they work and the cooperative pays for the expenses and distributes any mandatory funds and other funds generated by the group. Our cooperative is 5 years old and only in the second semester of 2003 were there any withdrawals – it was an enormous investment of dreams, hopes, and group determination.

 

 

{{VI. Do you think working in solidarity networks or in solidarity production chains is important? What are these in your opinion?

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I’m not sure I understand the question, I’m going to answer according to what I understand, using the image of a fishing net, where each knot would be a reference point – or an Ecosol producer that upon receiving a piece of information, would pass it on to another reference point and so on until everybody has access to it. In a situation where several undertakings are working separately within their sector of activity – an Ecosol fair would be a net, where everybody is close to each other and exchanging practices and knowledge about working as collective workers. In contrast, a productive chain presupposes that one person’s product will become part of someone else’s product in such a way that every stage of production will incorporate parts of the production of another group. For example, a family farmer growing cotton sells his or her production to an undertaking producing thread, which sells its production to a textile undertaking, which in turn sells its products to a third undertaking that makes clothing, etc. In the end, the commercialization of the item would have entailed a benefit for everyone. If I understood correctly, nets enable the exchange of information, procedures, and chains enable shared production, without there being a middleman. In Ecosol, both systems are necessary and important for strengthening the movement.

 

 

{{VII. Does your activity influence the life of the community? How and in which spheres?

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Yes, Psychology as an instrument of transformation certainly contributes to group formation, to group cohesion, and the community projects developed by the cooperative have currently contributed to the social inclusion of the beneficiaries, whether in the individual aspect, improving self-esteem, in the exercise of an active citizenship, or in socioeconomic aspects, with the strengthening of roles and the search for new life perspectives.

 

 

VIII. What is work in your experience? What is its value and meaning in life?

 

 

Working is a condition inherent to human beings, work is fundamental for people’s balance and wellbeing – it is part of life. It is in work that we express our creativity, our ability to transform reality.

 

 

{{IX. What role do WOMEN play in a cooperation and solidarity-based economic initiative?

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Women possess that redeeming instinct of mutual help. They are more prepared to get involved in incorporation or inclusion movements. They are the great mother in the feminine dimension of the solidarity economy

 

 

{{X. How can public policies and the State contribute to the advancement of a Solidarity Socioeconomy?

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I think it can by promoting training and professional qualification programs that would help in the generation of undertakings and that would motivate popular initiatives. Aid programs are often unsuccessful because they fail to value the potential of the people – they merely maintain their authority for election purposes.

 

 

XI. Do you believe that a globalization of cooperation and solidarity is possible? How can it come true?

 

 

As I’ve said, the change is structural and short-term – we live in a society that robs us of autonomy, insofar as it imposes models. If we want to change the ideology we have to start by home, with our children, participating in school, church and in any place we can. We can organize discussion meetings, promote cooperative games in those places. It’s a start.

  • 1. Name of interviewer: Rosemary Gomes

  • 2. Name of interviewee: Oscarina Camillo; gender: female

  • 3. Name of the type of Socioeconomy initiative: Cooperativa de Trabalho na Área de Psicologia - Coop Mútua-Ação (Work Cooperative in the Field of Psychology - Mutual Action Coop), Alameda Gaspar Nogueira, 111 - Bairro Campestre – T. 4427 5941

09010-000 - Santo André

  • 4. Date and place of the interview: Sao Paulo, Brazil. March 10, 2004.

  • Contact addresses:

  • Rua Carijós, 3113 - Jd. Estádio

09180-001 - Santo André/SP

  • Tel.: (011) 4991 1913/27 01, (011) 4427 5941 and (011) 4972 5696

  • E-mail: oscarina@terra.com.br

Fonti :

Vision workshop of the WSSE

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