Taking advantage of the Easter holidays, we have been able to learn about an interesting case of a circular, local sustainable and supportive economy. The local consumption and entrepreneurship project Les Ateliers (The workshops) is presented as an attractive case that should undoubtedly be replicated in other (our ) geographies.

Les Ateliers, in addition to being a project, is an old factory renovated and converted into a social, labor and entrepreneurship center in the small French town of Castres. The creation and subsequent management of the place goes hand in hand with ÉTIC Foncièrement responsable. ETIC is in charge of creating, financing and managing offices and commercial spaces offering an ethical and sustainable alternative to the actors of social change. All this is done in direct cooperation with local agents and administrations and through financing from ethical and cooperative banks.

This renovated factory has been operating as a meeting place and a hub for cooperation, employment and local consumption since 2015. In it we can find the Recyclerie where its partners are allowed to share all kinds of tools distributed in different areas and workshops. In this way, paying an annual fee allows you to have a whole range of tools and resources to develop your business or hobbies, all of them related to the restoration and recovery of materials. We highlight the bicycle manufacturing workshop from parts of other defective ones. We also find furniture and upholstery restoration workshops where young people develop their business. Between the workshops there is a large area where you can buy all these products, to give them a new use. Without a doubt la Recyclerie is a living example of entrepreneurship and circular economy.

Les Ateliers also houses other spaces. It has two floors open to the public for socio-cultural and consumer activities. There we find the bar and the restaurant decorated with the furniture created in la Recyclerie. In addition, all the food they serve comes from local producers. The lower floor also housed a supermarket of exclusively local products. The dining room during the day is a place for meeting and debate. In that same space we find a library for lending books, a bookstore that sells second-hand books and a second-hand or locally made clothing store. Not only in La Recyclerie but in this space, the local, artisan and recirculated also gains importance

The dining room during the day is a place for meeting and debate. After dinner it is transformed into a concert area, offering the public a wide variety of local and regional culture. Without a doubt, Les Ateliers is committed to culture, promoting entrepreneurship and cultural creation at its center.

The two upper floors house different businesses and individuals in a shared office space. This coowork space encourages creation and entrepreneurship; to sustainable local development; to research and innovation from the perspective of the social and collaborative economy. There we can find from an NGO for the recovery of forests to a local radio station. Les Ateliers facilitates the creation of new social, environmental and cultural activities and jobs that meet the needs of the region.

In short, Les Ateliers stands as an innovative project focused on the local and circular economy. At Naider we are committed to this type of initiative and we are willing to make similar projects possible in our territory.

Aitor Mingo Bilbao
MSc in Sustainable Cities