How can economic activity lead to social cohesion and empowerment? The example of the solidarity market organised in one of Grenoble's neighborhoods gives some ideas. They gave it the name Zeybu: ( Z=Zone, Eyb=Eybens, U=Unitary).
The objective of Les Amis du Zeybu, (the Friends of the Zeybu) is to recreate social links and social cohesion within the neighborhood and to promote social cohesion.Their initiative is born from the observation that neighbors used to know each other less and less, and out of the motivation to reverse this dynamic. They want to promoting people's participation in an economic exchange that is based on more than consumption alone. With this objective in mind they carry out different activities to sustain their solidarity actions:
- The Zeybu Market (Marché du Zeybu) : members order fresh products online and local producers deliver them every two weeks.
- Zeybu Solidarity (Zeybu Solidaire): the small profit made out of the market serves to sponsor people in financial need to buy fresh produce and therefore allowing their inclusion in the market.
The market has an important social function as it creates links between people in the neighborhood and includes people with little revenue in economic exchange without being labeled as “poor”, allowing them to “re-exist” in a way.
There are also a few smaller scale projects associated to the Zeybu, such as the ‘Sun Oven’, which concerns educational tools utilized to garner support and interest in the locality through workshops for adults and children who find a special place to meet each other and run activities. This example of social inclusion also provides an interest for producers who find a local market for their product, promoting sustainability of communities where the farmers live and work.
The project is primarily run by volunteers, each participant donates time and helps with the running of the project. The Local Council pays for the overhead costs of the market such as utilities and rents. The labour costs are shared between the participants. The project stimulates people to take responsibility in the organisation of the market which can be a means to gain self-confidence in a relatively safe setting.
Interview carried out by Ananda Alonso Nacher, Antoine Fontaine and Michael Whitty, students at the Institute for Alpine Geography's masters program on International Development Studies.