PTDC 2 - Pour Tous Distribution Center 2
Pour Tous Distribution Center is not just a grocery store, but it is a space that brings the community together. PTDC is located at the Solar Kitchen campus and has been designed as a co-op for a collective effort towards supporting the alternative economy in Auroville. As a service, the PTDC supports individuals to take groceries on a need basis, with awareness about taking only what is needed, not to shop with fear of price tags. Everyone gives what they can as a regular monthly contribution. Some consume more some months and are covered by those who consume less, and so it balances out. Each individual’s contribution continues even if they leave Auroville for some weeks, as they are aware their contribution will help balance the months that consumption increases.
The co-op also puts a real effort to work as a collective team spirit and tries its best to source healthy, local, organic produce with less packaging. It offers a series of recycling options and turns unsold groceries into a diverse lunch menu which many come to enjoy by sitting out on tables in the gardens. It is a hub that brings all ages of community together.
" Pour Tous Distribution Center is not just a grocery store, but it is a space that brings the community together. "
Some would say, it is the best spot to feel “community spirit” in Auroville today. Many YouthLink members would agree. When we talk to youth about “service” in Auroville, we have always described the PTDC model as one good example. It is a space we visit often. It makes sense to young people. The example of sharing collectively for groceries is just a smaller example of what we could, and probably should do, on a larger scale.
Unfortunately, many Volunteers and Newcomer youth who would have loved to join this collective effort, could not. Many of them have traveled from far to come experience Auroville and participate in experiments like PTDC. However, due to the limited space, the PTDC has reached its full capacity today. In a 450 sqr meter space, it provides for over 1500 members ! Approximately 700 people come through PTDC on a daily basis with a team of 40 Aurovilians, staff and volunteers maintaining the products, kitchen, and management of the space.
So, after several years of informal discussion, it became obvious to the YouthLink team that one great need, and wish from the Youth of Auroville, and youth coming from outside, was to have another PTDC, even if it meant creating it themselves. So in July 2019, for the first time, one member in our team put up his hand and said confidently “I think I know what my life project will be, I want to be in service and make another PTDC!”. Arul comes from Edyanchavadi, a village neighboring Auroville. He has worked in many different Auroville units growing up, such as at a Taxi Service, Guest House and a Garment Unit.
When he joined YouthLink, it was the first time he worked in a service unit. He offered to help YouthLink with his values of Clarity, Transparency Equality. He did a fine job at this by accounting and managing the logistics of the space, meanwhile exploring Auroville through YouthLink’s educational programs. He soon discovered that being in service gave him a great sense of fulfillment, to offer himself and his skills fully. PTDC has become his life project which he has committed to.
In order to manifest this dream for himself and others, he approached the existing PTDC to ask for mentorship and support. Before he could say it himself, the management there said “Hello, good to see you! We have too much to do here, you… the youth, need to start another PTDC!” It was a fantastic moment. Arul probably had the largest grin on his face, that silent smile we all know well. He would have waited a moment, but then replied gently explaining that we had already decided in our previous YouthLink meeting that we were happy to take on this project for Arul if the current PTDC would be willing to mentor.
And so, just like that, as it often happens in Auroville, the universe responded and everyone was on the same page at the same time.
Since then we have been researching different co-cop models worldwide. We have been watching movies and listening to feedback from existing members. We have also been working with various mentors to develop a new PTDC model for the Town Hall area. The idea is to create a sister-brother project, but with a slightly new experimental model. To take the best of what exists and build on it to try something new.
When counting the 300 names on PTDC’s current waiting list, plus those who work and live in the communities surrounding Town Hall (Maison Des Jeunes, Mitra, Sunship, Citadines, Youth Center, Schools, TownHall, SAIIER...), we are confident that it will be a good success. We are currently in the process of finalizing the core team, design, and new model.
We hope many more PTDC brother & sister models with differing alternative economy structures will pop up in and around Auroville. This we believe would greatly help to improve our connections to each other and our bioregion. It would also help improve the quality of the food we consume, by supporting local farmers to transition towards organic farming as we would then be able to ensure then regular orders and outlets.