Gabrielle
Paoli

Project: Coopérative Oasis

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Gabrielle works for Colibris, a citizens’ movement aiming to build a society capable of responding to the ecological and human emergencies of our time. She originally planned to serve the community as a ‘préfet’, a French state representative. When she was unable to enter l’Ecole Nationale d’Administration, Gabrielle was inspired by French environmentalist Pierre Rabhi’s writings on individual responsibility. This led her to pursue a job in Colibris, which was founded by Rabhi. Prior to this, Gabrielle studied literature at Henri IV and l’Ecole Normale Supérieure.

The Oasis project has been supported inside Colibris since 2014. Oases are places that invent a new way of living – they can regenerate solidarity, resilience, and cohesion within communities. They restore the environment; promote links between inhabitants; and support energetic autonomy everywhere in France. There are 650 existing oases, located in cities as well as in rural areas across the whole of France. They take a variety of forms, including sky scrapers; urban farms; and collective living.

“Cooperative Oasis” was launched by Colibris in May 2018. It is an independent project - a Société Coopérative d’intérêt Collectif (SCIC). Founded to solve the financial issues of projects rarely supported by traditional banks, the “Cooperative Oasis” collects savings to lend with zero rate interest to oases along with intense technical support.

MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET

“At the end of my studies, I had to decide what to do with my life. I took a year off and I travelled around. As simple as it may sound, I came to this essential fact: I’m 20 years old at the beginning of the 21st century, what is the greatest challenge of my generation? To be useful to my community, to what should I direct all of my energy, creativity, and ability? It was not long until I found the answer: above literature, or even peace, the commitment to a more sustainable planet appeared a necessity. Life on earth was the condition for the rest.

It was noticed very early on when supporting the oases that, above all else, they needed money. The problem was that traditional banks were not keen to lend money to such ecological and collective projects. Few oases had found new ways to raise funds. Often, they asked their families and friends to lend them their savings with zero rate interest – returning them after a number of years. Cooperative Oasis was created as a similar, but mutualised tool on the national scale, the idea being to collect the savings of regular citizens that wanted to lend to oases all around France."