in Nantes the next world does not wait

With a socially and environmentally responsible vision, Tiers-Lieux put people at the center of city life. Their ideal of social diversity, rediscovered togetherness and ethical consumption seduces a generation in search of meaning. Will they become the foundation of tomorrow’s city? In Nantes, we want to believe in it.

There are lounges where we talk, but at Cocotte Solidaire on the island of Versailles in Nantes, it is in the kitchen that we discuss. Between neighbors, friends or in the company of strangers passing by, the preparation of the meal is experienced as a first moment of coziness before sitting down to eat: Margaux Coradini and Pauline Olivier, co-founders of La Cocotte Solidaire have made it the heart of this participating canteen installed in 2019 facing Erdre, in an atypical building that had been decommissioned at the time and which had already housed a catering activity.

This is the neighborhood where we grew up, and the residents had expressed a desire for a place of coziness and exchanges. “ remembers Margaux. Some of the products come from unsold food retailers who are sensitive to La Cocotte’s social and environmental calling. Here we cook together, we eat healthy after setting the table at large tables at a free and modest price.

It was around one of these tables that director Thierry Mercadal gathered several actors and actors from the Social and Solidarity Economy (ESS) in Nantes for a meeting with the third type of these third places who are already rich in success stories and promises.

That this documentary has Nantes as a backdrop is no coincidence. La Cocotte Solidaire is one of the projects funded as part of the “15 places to reinvent” operation: in 2017, the city had proposed that collectives take over abandoned places, wastelands, to develop various projects there, for the benefit of neighborhoods and their residents. It renewed operations in 2021 to allow the emergence of new projects.

We need to develop different commercial circuits

Camille May co-manager Le Champignon Urbain

A former industrial worker destined to become a director, Camille May turned her back on a promising career to become managing partner at Le Champignon Urbain. In the old chapel of Martray in Nantes, one of the 15 places to reinvent, he grows mushrooms that he markets himself, including delivery by bicycle. “All the outlets I have look more like a network of friends than people who come to shop. If we want lively city centers with activity and not just housing, we need to develop different business cycles. “

Elise Belard, co-director of L’Ouvre Boîte 44 adds: The economic activity in the structure fills the gaps in her neighborhood and brings development there. This Business and Employment Cooperative (CAE) was established in 2003 and welcomes entrepreneurs in services, trade and crafts in the development phase of their project: at L’Ouvre-Boîte it is the anti-uberisation that we benefit from collective energy, and we are growing below the cooperative’s employee status.

A special feature that proved reassuring at the height of the Covid crisis in 2020, when entrepreneurs were able to receive state aid for partial unemployment through the cooperative that employs them. In these examples of economic development, should we see a form of institutionalization of third places?

What works can not stay on the sidelines “ thinks sociologist Evelyne Lhoste. “These places, wherever they are, will be part of the daily lives of the inhabitants. We are in a crucial moment, society is beginning to understand that things are not being done systematically in a movement from above. It is possible that third places will establish themselves in the longer term and have a transforming effect in the longer term. “

Also the interview in the documentary is the philosopher and city planner Thierry Paquot more critical. “The third place loses its emancipatory calling by being integrated into capitalism, as it has been the production cooperatives of a number of workers, but others will replace them, which will herald a transformation of the economic structure of a territory. He must not lose his spontaneity and his first generosity and his extraordinary ingenuity to be institutionalized.

We are in a phase where we are regaining public space

Pauline Olivier, co-founder of La Cocotte Solidaire

“The Third Places” sensibly looks back on the experience of the occupation of the Maison du Peuple in Nantes, from September 2019 to July 2021. Responding to the urgency of finding a place to receive migrants without housing, this abandoned place, belonging to the diocese quickly multiplied the activities around its only function as housing: education, administrative assistance, place of creation and cultural dissemination, coworking space, free shop.

As Renz, spokesman for the collective behind the occupation, points out “There were more people here during the day than people who stayed. We unconditionally welcome it, it’s political! If we ask about the deal before, we know we will not get it. Once we occupy the premises, we try to find a scheme and that it goes well and we are aware that the residents or owners do not want it.

With or without permission, legal or illegal, with or without subsidies: the political vision that animates the third places, and the nature of the activities they host, condition their relationship, which is more or less dependent on public money and community. What remains is that these “third places” today fulfill a real mission of general interest in cities and districts that they alone seem capable of and willing to carry out. “We are in a phase where we are regaining public space. “ says Pauline Olivier, co-founder of La Cocotte Solidaire. “It provides more democracy and commitment to the city. We de-hierarchize the model of classical political organizations, it is essential to make voices heard that we do not hear.

Thierry Mercadal’s documentary also paints the portrait of a generation that, far from being disillusioned, has chosen to take their own destiny into their own hands while worrying about the common good. We are far from dreaming of the Grand Soir, but in an assumed pragmatism. “These are people who want to change lives from the bottom up: their lives and the lives of their loved ones. “ analysis Christine Liefooghe Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Lille. “It is not politics in the sense of producing discourse and proposing a new program. It is done.”

In neighborhoods that had been dehumanized by seeing the local bistro or grocery store close, third places look like a second chance. Wild third places per. definition not coordinated and therefore less well tolerated by local residents, illegal occupations are a loud reminder of the lack of diversity in residential areas in urban centers.

Answers born of social urge, the search for meaning and community and the desire for a good and healthy life: of course, these third places tell us about ourselves and our time.

The Third Places, a film by Thierry Mercadal. In France 3 Pays de la Loire – On Stage co-production

Sent on Thursday, March 31 at 23.20 at France 3 Pays de la Loire and at. 12.10 on France 3 Brittany – Rebroadcast at. 9.50 on Tuesday 5 April

This documentary is one of 11 films in the collection “New lives, new cities, new world “ offered by the regional network of France 3, which can be found on

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