“The Cooperativa Integral Catalana came about in 2010 when 100 members, many of whom had different political ideologies, joined forces in a bid to escape capitalism”, veteran associate Xavier Borrás told The Local.
CIC, as it is commonly known, has grown more than tenfold over the past three years by recruiting members who prefer self-management to the regular monetary system.
In fact, they have their own currency: the eco.
“We use the eco as a transparent means of exchanging services between members,” explains Borrás.
“It’s not a physical currency which is printed, we use this software called Community Exchange System as a tool to barter products and services between our members.”
“One eco is roughly equivalent to one euro, but other similar groups use hours as an exchange rate reference.”
CIC's increasing popularity has been linked to Spain's financial woes and the "Indignants" social movement.
The organization has been replicated across Spain and members are now helping to set up similar groups in France and Italy.
The organization has just opened its first self-management health centre called CAPS (Centro de Autogestión Primaria de Salud), based largely on holistic medicine.
“We give importance to the person rather than the illness by employing facilitators who help to improve the lifestyle and condition of the sick person.”
CIC’s medical branch isn’t medically qualified and doesn’t give a diagnosis.
As Borrás told 20 minutos recently: “If somebody breaks their leg, they go to the ER".
The group even has its own nursery where children can play while their parents attend meetings on property, education and health matters.
“We’re not against the system, we just want out,” Borrás told The Local.
“The euro, or any other currency for that matter, is not within our control. The less euros we use, the more real economy we’ll generate up to the point of not needing money at all.”