In le Drome we encountered a thriving community of small scale organic farmers. At the Alternatiba Crest event we met La Confederation Paysanne. It is very refreshing to be in a country were the term peasant isn't an insult but rather a much valued, positive expression of a better way of life.... La vie est belle! We had a very tasty repas partage and we swapped recipes for summer fruits.
Le monde n'est pas une marchandise! The world is not a commodity!
Also in Crest, of course yet more cycling associations in action...
Cargo bikes in le Drome
After Crest it was on to Valence, again they have an active cycling community: Roulons en Ville a Velo http://www.revv-valence.org
And it is here where we first met the legendary Velomnibus, a 12 seater bicycle which struggeled a bit on the long Velorution out of town to the Industrial estate of Port Valence. We met it again in Grenoble, officially the flattest city in France. And here it was flying through the Streets in a carnival atmosphere!
With a friendly man who was promoting the new local currency of Valence and who was collecting notes from other local currencies we exchanged our one Euro's worth of some local Breton currancy that we have been driving around with us for two years now, for some directions to the house where we were staying.
We met a little team of very enthusiastic and inspiring people who were working on the very first edition of a little festival called Les Decroissants de Thune, a festival of Decroissance in Le Drome.
Les Decroissants de Thune
We had a very positive, enjoyable and encouraging time in Le Drome.
We believe that Decroissance offers definite, positive actions that we can all take in a world full of depressing, messy problems, be they economic, social, environmental, etc...
Degrowth alternatives are flourishing as the present economy falls into ever more and more crises. These alternatives include food production in urban gardens; co-housing and ecocommunes; alternative food networks, producer-consumer cooperatives, and communal kitchens; health care, elder care, and child care cooperatives; open software; and decentralized forms of renewable energy production and distribution. These alternatives are often accompanied, or even supported, by new forms of exchange such as community currencies, barter markets, time banks, financial cooperatives, and ethical banks.
Le Tour Alternatiba actively promotes the following...
Peasant agriculture, responsible consumption, local small is beautiful economics, relocation of the economy, job sharing and wealth, social and ecological conversion of production, ethical finance, defense of common goods such as water, land or forests, fisheries sustainable food sovereignty, solidarity and sharing, repair and recycling, waste reduction, soft transport and sustainable mobility, eco-renovation, the fight against urban sprawl and artificial soil, sustainable land use, land preservation efforts, agricultural, defense of biodiversity, sobriety and energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy shift climate plans, transition towns, environmental awareness, etc. :
Alternatives exist, they only need to be strengthened and developed, multiplied!
There is an alternative, and it is called “degrowth.”
We support the aims of Le Tour Alternatiba and this is why we decided to cycle with them. We have been finding it very positive, uplifting and hopefull to be with them and to be meeting more and more people every day who are living these alternatives.
Another world really is possible and is beginning to take shape!
On our way to Grenoble we didn't want to venture into the mountains, so we left the Tour for a day, to stay along the river Isere in Saint Marcellin with a couple who felt they were doing so little to play their part in changing the world. We think they are doing a lot! In their 'normal' world they chose to live next to the trainstation so they don't need a car to commute, they don't fly to their holiday destinations and the best thing is they kept a traditional Cobbler shop alive and thriving in the heart of Grenoble. Le pettit cordonniere! If only more people knew how to value their things and realise that keeping and repairing a good, comfortable shoe ( in this example ) is in most cases the better choice.
Repairing and reusing things lies at the heart of decroissance! We need more cordonnieres of all trades and colors!
Remember your three R's ? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! We want to add two more: Refuse and Repair!
Sitting there in the park with the animals, nestled in the valley of the Isere, at the foot of the Plateau du Vercors and the Chartreuse we felt like we were having a picnic in paradise.
One of our favorite songs that we have been playing on the daily velorutions with Le Tour Alternatiba is shouting out for our paradise called Mother Earth.
"Mamá Tierra" - Macaco & Natalia Lafourcade
Enjoy and shout it out!
In Grenoble we finally met Un p'tit Velo dans la Tete. We first made contact with them six years ago, when we were still in our baby shoes as Velorutionairies.
On the way from Grenoble to Chambery we collected some giant activity evidence...
We stopped for lunch by a lake, not far from a village that is not happy at all about the Lyon to Turin highspeed railway line that has been planned for donkies years and would destroy their village and surrounding nature. Here is the place where a massive tunnel would come out....
Here is a link with some more info about this grand projet inutile et impose
From the lake a great big crowed cycled with us the last 12km to Chambery. For us it was the most fun and festive Velorution so far during our time with Alternatiba...
And then the next day it carried on in the same carnevalesque style all the way to Aix les Bains...
There was even cargo bikes on the velorution!The Bullit went all the way from Chambery to Geneva!
Transportons mieux et moins!
Here a fabulous read on the news in the kargo bike velorution....
And we got given an Elephant! Well one Elef, the local money of Chambery. So we got our Euro back that we traded in Valence! http://www.lamonnaieautrement.org
And in Aix-les Bains we finally did our show for the Alternatiba crew.
Then we thought we would be clever and take the route along the river again instead of going to Annecy with Alternatiba. It was just as hilly and hot. After a hot and hotter day on which we had to stop every five minutes to jump into the lake we arrived tired and bothered, three hours late at our hosts house at the top of the mountain. Even though they had given up on us they still had food waiting for us and we had a nice and cosy bed, so we soon forgot about the tortoures of the day.
It didn't get any easier the next day. More mountains, more sun, more heat on the way to Geneva. By the time we arrived in the scorching industrial estate to meet the Alternatiba it was 42 degrees Celcius and we thought we had missed them. But but we met one other lonely, local cyclist with a mobile phone, hurried up like our little friend from La Rustine on the penny farthing below and caught up with the velorution.
When we arrived at the square in front of the United Nations, the complete velorution cycled straight into the fountains to cool down.
Then, refreshed we joined the big gathering of campesinos, native indians and africans to call for an end to corporate power and impunity.
In 2008 a group of highly respected economists and scientists led by Pavan Sukhdev, then a senior Deutsche Bank economist, conducted an authoritative economic analysis of the value of biodiversity. Their conclusion? The cost of the business activities of the world's 3,000 largest corporations in loss or damage to nature and the environment now stands at $2.2tn per year. And rising. These costs will have to be paid for in the future. By your children and your grandchildren. To quote Sukhdev: "The rules of business urgently need to be changed, so corporations compete on the basis of innovation, resource conservation and satisfaction of multiple stakeholder demands, rather than on the basis of who is most effective in influencing government regulation, avoiding taxes and obtaining subsidies for harmful activities to maximise the return for shareholders."
The sheep agree: Another world is possible and necessarry!