Solidarity and service innovation

The solidarity movement that emerged from grassroots, ad hoc communities, produced an innovative model of commoning. These practices radically transform the ways people come together, take decisions and organise themselves. This multi-level mobilisation produced practices, processes and skills that can transform service delivery and enable local administrations, municipal authorities, and social movements to become participatory, sustainable, and embedded in grassroots needs and aspirations.

OLA is active in projects that focus on the ways through which various examples of solidarity initiatives deliver services to transform sectors in which they are active (e.g. health sector for clinics, education for solidarity schools etc.) through a series of best practices that emerged from the ground, as for instance school tutoring, refugee housing, medicines’ recycling, groups’ decision making processes etc.

Labour Rights and Cooperativism

Southern Europe is experiencing the abolition of basic workers’ rights while the welfare state cannot guarantee social protection the way we were used to. Conventional forms of protest, such as trade unionism and strikes, do not seem appropriate to bring about change. Workers’ collectives and cooperativism emerge anew as innovative practices and frames of sustainable action. Still, against a background of rapidly changing working conditions, how can we understand ‘labour rights’? Should we transform our ideas and practices of protecting and demanding what we consider as just?

OLA is active in efforts related with empowering participation in workers’ unions (e.g. digital unionism, novel tools and processes for unionism), alternatives to traditional employment (e.g. participating and establishing cooperatives), protection of labour rights through the creation of alternative working relations etc.

Self-organisation and municipalism

Abstaining from making demands to power holders to change things, people have started to change things themselves in their neighbourhoods. This way, they create self-organized, horizontal communities and transform the local into a political unit challenging centralised power. Within this context, groups of people form municipal coalitions or run local governments: municipalities often become a platform where innovative ideas and practices concerning urban governance and citizenship participation are tested. New spaces in-between institutional and non-institutional politics are formed changing our ideas of what is an institution, and which is our role in its formation and running.

OLA is active in projects related to the connection of social (solidarity) movements with municipalities and different levels of local government (e.g. municipalities as enablers for the creation of urban commons, local social movements as key agents of local democracy and governance etc.)

Housing and Urbanism

During the last few years, the number of homeless people (lack access to safe and adequate accommodation) has increased dramatically. Moreover, since 2015 the number of migrants arriving and remaining in limbo in the city, in camps, organised settlements or informal spaces, has also increased. At the same time, Athens has become a major tourist pole feeling ripe for the forces of gentrification; short term rental practices (e.g. Airbnb) contribute to the transformation of urban environment becoming contested at the local level. Still, in parallel with the impact of these ‘crises’, reactions to austerity challenged many things taken for granted, including issues of political participation, local democracy and, also, city planning. As a result, the housing issue has become a field of contestation, and urban planning a platform of citizenship participation in different, more egalitarian terms. 

OLA is active in projects related to urban planning (e.g. participation in city planning, local democracy etc.) and housing (e.g. refugee integration through social housing, alternatives to Airbnb etc.)