Jul 11, 2021

Sarah TURQUETY answers TINYisPOWERFUL’s questions

When in Charleston, pre-covid, Sarah Turquety, with a simple exercise in social awareness, transformed a disparate group of individualists into a cluster of community strong neighbors. Her poetry speaks of solidarity, militancy, family, nature. Her voice is spiced with a ray of sun. She is young and French, an artist living in a region of villages with 200 to 2000 inhabitants, in SW France …

Eating: a human right or a privilege?

Why “human”? Why exclude ourselves from other living beings?

Right or privilege? First, a need.

Not to answer this need, or not to answer well – not enough food or inadequate food – may put our lives in danger, or kill us.

Is it a privilege to tend to our needs?

Yes, since a majority of humans on the planet  cannot.

Does it have to be a privilege? No

Could it become a right if we organize collectively, if we share equitably? Yes.
Examples of collective organizing … solidarity economy

Housing: endowments for collective acquisitions

Finding housing in areas with many secondary residences? Stopping real estate speculation?

.  In the village of Verfeil, buildings are bought by a local endowment fund. Houses are and remain collectively owned. Investors in the fund do not own shares that they could sell, thus opening real estate to speculation. Investors pay monthly installments to cover rent comparatively lower than otherwise. The difference goes towards maintenance and such, not  individual profit.

Other ventures were financed this way: a collectively owned garage, a woodworking shop, a public event hall, a wheat and veggie farm, a welcoming place for migrants …

 Collective cafés, in many villages, no particular legal arrangements. Only places to meet and eat well for under $5 or whatever you can afford, and to buy local. Some cafés offer a salaried position.

Buying bio coffee, rice, spices: collectives of buyers work with Mexican, Thai, Italian or Spanish farmers. Products are shipped directly from abroad, processed locally, packages and sold at  a profit, which is sent back to the growers, who usually are also political activists fighting the local system.

The “Suspended Baskets”- based on the fact that low-wealth populations cannot afford bio food and vegetables. Regular customers buy a little more than they need and give the difference to a reserve which is weekly sold at a symbolic price to needier people. Not for free though, to avoid the perception of hand-outs. Benefits are used to fill up more weekly baskets.

Collective gardens: city hall or private owners let locals have a plot of land for collective farming. Good to understand the issues of group organizing, meeting neighbors, understanding seed ownership, anti-agro-business policies …

Collective construction sites: a number of families form a group. They meet once a month and work on an individual family project: dig a trench, take down a wall, planting … It makes the impossible possible!

Collective production kitchen: for farmers needing to process their products for sale ( canning, packaging, conditioning …) Farmers make use of collective tools, equipment, kitchen, all Health Department controlled for a competitive fee and no expensive investment.

How do you see the future, near or further on?

. Major concern is about the surveillance culture. She had just seen a documentary about China named “7 billion suspects”, which shows how whoever carries a cellphone is traced, including when jaywalking  … you will be penalized with higher insurance rates and a loss of the credits needed for employment for being an under-disciplined citizen!

France is quickly getting there, she says.

. other concern: how rich countries still pillage Africa and other poorer countries, As long as someone will be the poor of someone else, there will be ways to recruit mercenaries

feeding the needs for ever more repressive forces.

. Yet she hopes that this will only make clearer the urgency of liberation and protest movements – for climate; for Black, brown and indigenous people; for society to auto-organize,

build a powerful collective spirit.

. her conclusion: it would be a shame not to try alternative ways. I am not very optimistic but still “free in my dreams”.