Spanish Cities Make the Case for How Cooperatives Can Address Urban Ills
Whether it is growing congestion due to ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, rising housing costs due to Airbnb, or increasing agitation from gig workers being forced to work longer hours for less pay, cities are at the forefront of the battle to control the exploitative platform economy.
As cities deal with these challenges, more attention is being given to sharing as a solution. One of the leaders in the sharing cities movement has been Barcelona, the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, with more than 1,000 worker-owned enterprises and cooperatives in operation working in 28 different economic areas including sharing of culture, energy, agro-agriculture, and consumption. This includes the Xarxa de Consum Solidari network of consumers’ cooperatives and La Borda, a housing cooperative. One neighborhood, Sants, has 50 cooperatives alone, including an architecture office, a bookshop and a music club, all owned by residents and all of which keep their profits within the community. Even the famous Barcelona FC soccer club — one of the best teams in Europe — is a cooperative sporting association with 175,000 members, all of whom have a voice in deciding the direction and future of the club.