“GUT Leben“ (“Gegenseitige Unterstützung für eine Transformation zu einer Wirtschaft der Lebensfülle,“) means mutual support for a transformation to an economy of abundant life. The goal is to pool citizens´ assets in support of good living of people (“buen vivir”) as well as ecological stability.
The issues we address (housing, food, and energy) are key to a transition to a sustainable economy in Europe. Cooperative housing could counteract speculative booms that contributed to financial crisis and lack of affordable housing. Renewable energy and sustainable agriculture can both contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. All three areas are in need of investment funds that are oriented not to short-term revenue, but to long-term sustenance.
In all European countries there are citizens who are concerned about their localities and who have some money or skills to invest, but lack institutions that invest with a logic of promoting the long-term public good.
If our venture is successful, with appropriate modifications its approach will be applicable elsewhere across Europe.
The local outcome would be a strong community that uses “patient capital” to care for our long-term future, including sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and affordable housing. People who invest their labor obtain similar benefits as those who invest money, thus leading to social equity as well as ecological sustainability.
We hope that our venture will serve as a model elsewhere in Germany, Europe, and the world. Too often, people complain that “capitalists” are only interested in short-term profits. But we can not rely on government alone to work for the public good. We need innovative approaches for citizens to invest in the long-term health of the communities to which they belong. If this initiative succeeds in Heidelberg, we will help similar ventures to get started elsewhere.
Ongoing: Gain the support of local stakeholders, building on existing strong community support for renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and affordable housing.
June-December 2015: Consult with experts on economic, financial, and governance issues, and hold a series of workshops in order to formulate by-laws and a strong business plan for the organization.
January-June 2016: Build a software platform that supports membership administration, accounting, asset management, and collective decision-making.
April-August 2016: Design and print coupons that are aesthetically pleasing, convey a sense of local identity, and that have protections against forgery.
September 2016 (after summer vacation): official launch with big opening event.
Funding requested from Advocate Europe