This article is from Management magazine
Benjamin Lesage, founder of the Eotopia ecovillage
A wooden cabin, a renovated house, a yurt, one or two caravans, three greenhouses, a vegetable garden, the forest … On a 3 hectare site, acquired in 2016, near the village of Cronat (Saône-et-Loire) , 10 to 12 people, that is to say the maximum population of the ecovillage, live together in sharing and mutual attention. Eotopia is the culmination of a dream that has lived in its founder Benjamin Lesage, since a long student stay in the Netherlands. A stubborn utopian, he was convinced that living differently is possible.
His ideal? Create a society without money, based on the economy of donation, reasoned agriculture and respect for the living, therefore vegan, and free of its way of life, its schedules, the education of children. “I was shocked in Nicaragua, during a penniless trip ten years ago. There I rubbed shoulders with a happy, self-sufficient, unconstrained community filled with music and creative workshops. . “
After many attempts at similar organizations here and there, and as many disillusions, Benjamin revised his goal of “penniless, no conso, no comfort”. Neither hippies nor waning activists, the inhabitants of Eotopia have learned to deal with reality. “We are fleeing ecological burn-out, due to too spartan standards of living. There is no question, for example, of cutting ourselves off from the Internet.” Eotopia has a subscription to water and electricity, has a fridge and a washing machine. But the idea remains to favor ecological equipment, to use electrical, gas or motor devices only when it is essential, and to buy only what you can neither recover nor manufacture yourself. -same.
The rule is also to the exchange of know-how, between members of the community, but also with the visitors who we welcome gladly for a few weeks; they participate in the collective thanks to “the donation box” and by putting their hands in the dough. We hoe the garden, we harvest, we run workshops open to the public (drawing, working the land, meditation …), we glean objects, we repair, we lend … and we listen to the other without judging, ” the key to being well together “, assures Benjamin.
“We spend little, the common costs are 2,300 euros per year, taxes included, he adds. And decisions affecting the collective are discussed twice a week during meetings.” However, each one works “a little” for himself, here and there. Benjamin, in particular, carries out transcriptions, his wife sets up an associative café in the village. And both, with their 6-year-old daughter and their life companions, remain “open to the unexpected”. Hoping that passing people, excited by Eotopia, will have the momentum to duplicate the model elsewhere.
Alexandra Debaisieux, CEO of the Railcoop railway cooperative
Get on a train in Bordeaux and get off at Limoges, Guéret, Montluçon, Gannat or at the terminus of Lyon, without undergoing the big detour through Paris? It is possible with Railcoop. This railway cooperative aims to bring locomotives back to our countryside, by reinvesting the secondary lines and their small stations neglected by the reign of the TGV. An exciting project, made possible by the opening of rail to competition at the end of 2020. “The idea is to roll up our sleeves all together, elected officials, associations, companies, individuals, by becoming co-owners of a railway company, rather than of deplore a situation of neglect in the face of the boom in road traffic, which is expected to grow by 34% by 2050 “, explains Alexandra Debaisieux, director of the SCIC (cooperative society of collective interest) Railcoop.
Passionate and seasoned in negotiations at European level, having herself worked to open up the rail market in France, this Sciences Po graduate dissects an original mode of collective governance. “Anyone can buy one or more shares of Railcoop and feed the work of the operational teams, via think tanks on station development or on-board services, for example. Each member has one vote. people were skeptical at first. ” He had to deploy all his talents to sell the case to cautious banks, obtain state aid, fix the “paths” (schedules) of freight and passenger traffic, with SNCF Réseau … and clear the criticisms of trade unions. railway workers. “We are in a logic of supply and co-construction, it will also be their train. I believe in it”, she replies.
With 8,500 members today, the cooperative should soon obtain the necessary authorizations. It still has to acquire or rent the rolling stock and… recruit the drivers for the first trips: freight in November and passengers in June 2022. A public service run by citizens: will the idea be emulated tomorrow ?
Nicolas Sénéchau, creator of the first recycling center-supermarket
You wouldn’t expect a hydrological engineer to be well versed in behavioral science. Even less that he made it the axis of the reorganization of an inter-municipal waste reception center. And yet! Nicolas Sénéchau, CEO of Smicval, mixed union of Libournais, knew how to make the waste reception center of Vayres (Gironde) a pleasant place where one strolls, talks, exchanges, by transforming its uses: henceforth, one does not throw away any more bulky items, one Carefully place them in dedicated spaces… and you can use them freely among the objects left there by others. “I like to step aside”, explains this official who has worked in the oil industry, and who deals here, every year, with the weight of the Eiffel Tower in waste. “In 2015, he says, the waste reception center got old. The technicians propose to rebuild it identically. Do the same again? No way!” smiles M. Sénéchau. Why duplicate a concept from the 1980s when the question of waste has completely changed since then?
“I hate the laziness which pushes to go to the easiest. I recommended to rebuild a beautiful, welcoming place, which favors the recovery of waste and reduces the volume of buried waste. Rather than respond by technique, I explored the irrational that influences our choices. ” He surrounds himself with a sociologist, a designer specializing in uses and marketing experts.
A project of “upside down supermarket” is thus developed: no purchase, but donations. “We have transposed the familiar codes of mass distribution: thematic shelves, signage, colored lines on the ground, shopping carts, department managers, logisticians …” And it works: 100% of gardening tools and 75% toys are taken back by visitors, and 90% of objects not taken back go for recycling. Whether the reused object finds its place in a family or is sold on the Net does not matter to Nicolas.
“The important thing is to break the representations of the new, the beautiful, and encourage people to act differently. Me, for example, I have my clothes repaired, but I am no less well dressed!” There is also a small bar with sometimes entertainment and free coffee. In rural areas, where bistros have disappeared, this newlook waste collection center opened in 2017, a first in France, creates social ties… A model that intrigues and interests local authorities from all walks of life.
Cedric Auriol, breeder of food insects
“At Christmas, you will buy chocolates, crackers or insect flour sauce bases in supermarkets,” says Cédric Auriol, pioneer of entomoculture in Europe and co-founder of Agronutris, in Toulouse. Insects have been his business since he read a 2011 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the challenges of human nutrition by 2050. “There will be 9 of us. to 10 billion on the planet and will consume 70% more protein, he warns. But insects are rich in this nutrient. “
Nothing predestined the young graduate of Toulouse Business School to be interested in sucker worms, crickets or black soldier fly, the three species he selected for their nutritional and environmental quality, as well as their performance in breeding. Cédric, entrepreneur and innovator at heart, did not hesitate ten years ago to stop his import-export activities, to “invent a new world” thanks to these little animals.
He has passion, tenacity, daring … But he still has to build his know-how as an entomoculteur. He therefore recruited a doctor in insect biology and an agricultural engineer, and launched Micronutris, his first breeding farm. “We tried to transform insects into proteins and make them acceptable to the European taste. We tested a lot. Myself, in seven years, I have tasted dehydrated mealworms and crickets, cookies made with insect flour and other preparations! ” More than a million customers have purchased its items sold in delicatessen or on the Internet.
Today, Cédric is moving up a gear. “The” discovery “phase, during fun aperitifs, is now followed by the industrial phase, with more elaborate and varied products, pasta, steaks, energy bars …” Having become a manufacturer of ingredients, he forges partnerships with agribusiness giants. The company, renamed Agronutris, is also developing in animal feed, thanks to a flour from the soldier fly that it will produce from 2022 in its factory in the Ardennes.
And its market is growing outside of France. “In June, we obtained the exclusive authorization from the European Commission to market insects for human consumption for the entire EEC,” he adds, very proud of this success. Because for him, the toughest fight remains that of the regulations… much more complicated than enjoying small dishes of insects!
Jean-François Recco, director of Biocycle
At the end of 2013, Jean-François clicked. This associative activist, volunteer in NGOs, seeks to initiate a meaningful project, after a job as a sales engineer in an IT services company. “It was while chatting with my baker that I became aware of the extent of food waste. We throw food away every day on the markets, in canteens, in supermarkets, while we live in a time of precariousness. galloping, ”he explains. In France, 5 million people depend on food aid. But how do you make the link between the surpluses thrown away by some and the associations that could redistribute them to those who need them?
Jean-François creates Biocycle, a collection and delivery service for unsold items… by bicycle. And he sets off on his own, in Paris, with his scooter, collects unsold items from traders, caterers, collective restaurateurs and delivers them to partner associations, a maximum of 5 kilometers from the collection point. “For me, this is a civic and common sense approach. But I had to convince the professionals who feared the diversion of products or the risks of intoxication …
In 2016, the Garot law against food waste helped us to educate. “Since then, Biocycle has grown significantly: the company has 10 permanent staff, relies on a network of 300 volunteers and operates throughout the Island. -de-France And it has in its surplus spin-off projects to other metropolises in the region.
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