Without time yet for a more thoughtful analysis, which also considers the opinion of the participants, we advance some first impressions on the XXI Symposium of the Basic Income Network held in A Coruña on the 28th and 29th of October.
From the point of view of the Basic Income Collective of A Coruña, it has been a real organisational challenge, which – from the atmosphere and the comments we have been receiving – we can consider satisfactorily overcome. The merit – as sometimes happens with the lottery – has been very well distributed.
We have felt accompanied and supported, always with the greatest respect for our autonomy to design the programme that we consider most interesting within our possibilities. In this sense, we are grateful for the trust placed in us by Red Renta Básica, as well as the support of social entities such as Attac, the CEESG (Colexio de Educadoras e Educadores Sociais de Galicia), as well as the institutional support (City Council, Provincial Council and University of A Coruña) and the media, and of individuals who have generously offered us their work and time, helping us with the digital diffusion, in the case of Grupo Sysega, or with the suggestive design of posters and stages, in the case of The Raspa’s Crew.
The slogan of this XXI Symposium, “Placing life at the centre”, seemed stimulating to us when it came to questioning the rules of the game that our lives are played under the dominant neoliberal and hetero-patriarchal logic. Putting life at the centre of the analysis allows us to approach from other perspectives, bringing to the forefront the situation of many people who are forced to live their lives on the margins of dignity.
The RBU is a tool that, within the framework of the reinforcement of the welfare state, makes it possible to put a certain limit to poverty and the cascade of problems associated with it. That is why we were interested in taking into account the perception of this proposal of those who work directly with the most vulnerable people. With third sector groups, we shared a very facilitating dynamic such as the “Café del Mundo”, in an atmosphere of trust and interaction that allowed us to see how the RBU proposal, although not unknown, still requires a pedagogical process of rapprochement, starting by arousing the interest of many entities that, probably due to their own urgencies, have not been able to make an analysis of this alternative. In relation to the multidisciplinary field of the social professions – psychology, social work, social education – it should be noted that they took part in a round table in which they strongly questioned conditional incomes and the grammar of a system that reinforces social exclusion when its responsibility is precisely to combat it. In a general critical tone – not very complacent with their own professional practice, sometimes anchored in welfare and the culture of individual suspicion regarding the origin of inequalities – they put on the table the many contradictions of a system that envelops social professionals in a bureaucratic morass, preventing them from developing the ethics of care and attention to the person that their deontological codes demand at this stage of the 21st century. We welcome very positively that, in addition to the collaboration of the Galician Association of Social Educators, the Associations of Psychology and Social Work joined in with their active participation, projecting a very hopeful vision of a change in the professional paradigm, associated with the achievement of a social right such as that represented by the RBU.
Among the facts that deserve to be highlighted is the increase in the number of women speakers. This was an objective set by the organisation, which was more than met, and which, in our opinion, also facilitated an approach to the different topics from an approach linked to the evidence emanating from the analysis of everyday life, on the way in which lives are affected by social mandates that must be called into question. In addition to the feminism table, the violet gaze crossed many other themes.
The right to have one’s own life projects, with the confidence that comes from having a basic income that allows one to act autonomously, was the common denominator, the point of convergence of the different interventions: autonomy so as not to feel exploited in the workplace; to be able to choose partners for different life journeys based on freedom and not on necessity; so that creativity – individual and collective – can sprout and be nourished. This idea was very much present at the round table focused on the cultural sphere, which is precarious and subject to unwritten codes of social relegation.
This 21st edition of the Symposium was supported by good registration figures: 355 people, 146 in person and 209 online, of which we can confirm that 300 people were attentive to the development of the sessions in one format or another. On average, approximately 80 people attended each of the activities. It should be pointed out that it has been very gratifying to achieve a group coexistence of a certain degree of trust and complicity. Interest has been maintained in the interventions and in learning more about the lines of work of the people and their reference groups in order to make the RBU known. The creation of this atmosphere of camaraderie has been helped by the sharing of coffees, lunches, dinners and spaces, such as the Paraninfo of the University, opens to a magnificent maritime landscape that invited us to imagine other possible lives.
As for the impact of the networking work, the numbers, in relation to what was invested, show the importance of having a professional campaign for dissemination and greater reach. Although there has been volunteer work, it was developed by professional profiles, which optimised and maximised the reach of the campaign, adjusting to the reduced resources we had available. 71,471 people were reached and viewed the Symposium publicity, and in only 16 days we reached 631 visits to the registration page and 215 registrations of attendance to the Symposium through networks. We could summarise, in gross numbers, that for every €1.5 – €2 invested in the networking campaign (not forgetting that there has been an important part of voluntary work) we have achieved 1 registration of attendance to the Symposium.
We would like to mention with gratitude the importance of having contacted and coordinated with Nerea Pérez de las Heras, co-host together with Inés Hernand, of one of the most followed podcasts in the country, “Saldremos Mejores”, the presence of two of our speakers, Mayte Quintanilla and more briefly Sergi Raventós, in his programme specifically dedicated to Basic Income (https://youtu.be/WGCM017LLa8), with more than 20,000 views. Podcast in which our Symposium was explicitly publicised. Having opted for the possibility of following the Symposium also by streaming has allowed us to have the complete recording of all the talks, so that they can be followed on a deferred basis as the content was posted on the web (https://youtu.be/YisODLIS6wM) and (https://youtu.be/CK8izKabRZQ), with around 900 views each on the YouTube platform, just one week after the event in A Coruña. Mention should also be made of the creation of a Telegram group called “XXI Symposium Basic Income Network” with more than 80 members, which generates participation and debate and brings together different national collectives focused on Basic Income.
From the Basic Income Collective of A Coruña we are very grateful to all the people who have accepted to participate in the Symposium as speakers, both to those who are undisputed references on UBI, and to those who have not yet had much experience in the field but have dared to think about this proposal and present their reflections to us. To those who have come from outside Galicia, and to the Galician men and women who have shown our reality as it is. It seemed to us that, although it required a certain extra effort to understand different realities, it was a good idea to get to know reflections based on different and distant life contexts. We were very grateful to Victor Grande, comedian, magician and singer, who gave us a torrent of laughter and was able to create a hymn to hum the advantages of the RBU.
Putting life at the centre, with the heart between the fingers, as reflected in the poster, has made it possible to add emotional complicity to the proximity of ideas. Thank you, to all the people who in one way or another have made it possible.
There is still a long way to go to achieve the RBU as a citizenship right. We need the knowledge and complicity of many people and groups who are not yet aware of the proposal or who reject it. We need, therefore, to articulate a network that prolongs the territorial initiatives that are taken and the analyses that we are sharing these days.
Let’s go for the 22nd Symposium of the Basic Income Network now!