Solidarity economy initiatives have a larger role in local economies than they are typically given credit for. To the extent that these economic forms are recognized, they tend to be treated separately: worker cooperatives are treated separately from consumer cooperatives, which in turn are treated separately from CSAs, credit unions and so forth. This piecemeal approach contributes to the perception that they occupy at best small niches in the economy. As a result, they are undervalued and undersupported as a means for revitalizing communities and stimulating local development.
For many solidarity economy activists, mapping -is the key to building the movement. Mapping can be conceptual — for example, by networking cooperatives in Latin America — or geographical, showing the geographic distribution of solidarity economy enterprises in a given area. Especially in areas where there is little familiarity with the term “solidarity economy,” mapping has potential to raise awareness about already-existing economic alternatives. Advanced mapping platforms have additional functionalities. They can enable consumers to find solidarity economy producers, create solidarity economy supply chains, facilitate research and data collection, and develop social networking.
This section contains information about our mapping project in Philadelphia, as well as networks and mapping initiatives throughout the country and around the world.