Vincent Liegey is living in Budapest, Hungary for almost 10 years now. He is a well known researcher and speaker about the concept of degrowth throughout Europe. He and his friends/colleagues/homemates, founded the Cargonomia project in Budapest. Cargonomia is a project that delivers vegetables boxes by cargo-bikes. Cargonomia is not only a bike delivery service or a logistic platform but also a experimental researching project on degrowth.
From the French ambassy to Cargonomia
Vincent came for the first time in Hungary during his studies in the 2000s. Since then, he moves from France to Hungary and settled in Budapest in 2011. He was into alter-globalist movements, and discovered the environmental side of alter-globalization here in Budapest. Step by step, through meetings and encounters, the concept of degrowth came naturally to him.
The idea of degrowth makes the connections with social and environmental issues and is also questionning our economic and society model which main idea is about productivism and mass-consumption. Chasing time, spending 8 hours in front of a computer waiting for the end of the day, completing missions for profit that were against his personnal values … That wasn’t what he dreamed of.
In Paris, he discovered the « Vélo-rution » movements (citizen association that promotes bikes, self repair bike workshops…). When he saw how difficult the processes are in Paris on an administration and financial point of view, he decided to create a bike workshop in Budapest : Cyclonomia.
He moves in an unusual apartment share in the heart of Budapest : 350 m² available, enough space to create a co-working space for architects, designers, painters … enough space to host theatrical and muscial performances… enough space to organize debate-evenings on different topics… There he meets many people with whom he can share his ideas. Cargonomia was born.
But what is Cargonomia ?
Cargonomia is mainly the fusion of three majors ideas :
- The bike workshop Cyclonomia that builds cargo-bikes
- The Zsámboki Biokert organic farm, 50km far from Budapest that provides fresh organic vegetables.
- The small business Kantaa, a messenger and small package delivery company.
In the end, Cargonomia ensure the sales of fresh, local organic products to consumers in Budapest, by delivering those vegetables boxes by cargobikes.
This main activity is answering to two majors issues :
First, it supports local agriculture not only by delivering vegetables boxes, but also with research projects in agroforestry in urban spaces. ‘Let’s plant trees in town !’
Secondly, the project wants to think over logistic and transport issues in towns. « Today, 50 % of urban spaces are occupied by cars. Let’s take back those public spaces, let’s substitute cars by trees, children playgrounds, terraces… and let’s use bikes because it’s fun, it’s more beautiful, noiseless, it doesn’t pollute, and it goes as fast as a car ! Average speed of cars in town is 16km/h, the normal speed of a bike ! »
With those 2 first ideas, Cargonomia extended to much more issues. The final issue now is « to learn how to slow down, how to get off our urge of ‘always more’ and ‘performance’, and how to communicate with others to live in a better way and more smoothly ».
Cargonomia is much more than a vegetables boxes delivery
So is Cargonomia. The ambitions go far beyond a simple vegetable bike delivery concept. Beside the logistic platform that is Cargonomia, the founders want to host many small sustainable projects to anyone who wants to try something. They don’t want to grow and become a bigger company. Instead, they prefer to repeat the model, and spread the word around the world in order to create many « baby Cargonomias », and to implement biodiversity in towns.
Main values are conviviality, share, reciprocity, collaboration, mutual-help.
Moreover, « Cargonomia is a social cooperative and an open community. It’s also an experimental researching project in degrowth. We can create new way of living, we can recreate new ways of working, or we can invent new economic models, mainly by sharing to become more sustainable on a technical point of view ». This issue is important for him because Cargonomia becomes a major and concret example for his degrowth researching or political projects. It shows that the degrowth theory is not only theoritical, but it is actually working with success.
A communist past and a low tech future.
Hungary was part of the Soviet Union. Public authorities under the Soviet government have always been reluctant concerning citizen initiatives. Moreover, civilian organizations were generally focussed on political contestation. There was no real relationships between politicians and citizens. Many members of Cargonomia come from different countries with another culture, and a different approach of working with political of public authorities. Therefore, new relationships have emerged and they now work hand in hand.
Cargonomia, with this degrowth idea, always prefered recycled or reused material to build cargo-bikes. They now tend to develop renewable energies, or eco-construction, by promoting low-tech.
More infos on Cargonomia : http://cargonomia.hu/who-we-are/?lang=en
More infos on degrowth : http://www.projet-decroissance.net/?cat=35