Catalytic Communities (CatComm) is a Rio de Janeiro-based not-for-profit organisation working to recognise, share and strengthen and project community solutions around the world.
CatComm recently paid a shocking visit to Vila Autódromo, the first community slated for removal by the city of Rio in preparation for the 2016 Olympics. This 40-year-old neighbourhood started as a fishing village and today houses 1200 families. It is among the few in Rio, mostly concentrated in the area where the Olympic Village will be built, that have no drug trafficking or militias.
Residents have developed a peaceful community by nurturing a sense of family. There is almost full employment and children are in school. The community is amazingly quiet and calm.
Unfortunately residents, including the neighbourhood association president, tell us they are not being consulted by city officials, the media are not telling their story, and the unique nature of this community is not being considered. Many have lived elsewhere and “finally found peace” when they settled here.
Less than a half kilometre away is Asa Branca, a community CatComm has worked with for nine, also characterised by peaceful co-existence, but additionally an emblem of community organisation and innovation.
Not only is it safe, but residents have developed dozens of community improvement initiatives, from their own sewerage system to stream cleanings, raising houses to prevent flooding, and arts and theater programs. Asa Branca is at risk of removal in the interests of a new highway.
Why are the few communities who have developed legitimate peace and order the targets? Does this make them easier targets for removal? Residents ask: why isn´t the city using Olympic funds to upgrade and urbanise these exemplary communities, instead of raze them?
CatComm’s visit has made all the more urgent their effort to win the Ideablob competition. Thanks to you, our idea “Rio Olympics: Ensuring a Powerful Legacy for Rio´s Favelas” is among the 8 finalists in this month’s competition. The idea with the most votes from the general public online on October 31st wins $10,000.
If we win, in 2010 CatComm will train 200 community leaders from across the city of Rio in social media that will allow them to amplify their voices and be heard by municipal authorities, the media, and the global community in the lead-up to the Olympic Games. Rio´s current administration is very sensitive to media and foreign opinion, so there is a lot of power in this approach.
The final round began this morning when the vote counter was reset to zero. We have until October 31st to vote again, then reach out to as many new friends and neighbours as possible.* We need you to:
1) VOTE! – Go to http://www.ideablob.com/ideas/6590-Rio-Olympics-Ensuring-a-Powerf and click “VOTE”. You´ll need to register if you didn´t vote in the first round. Anyone with an email address can vote, regardless of country. Once you have registered, login and vote for Catalytic Communities before midnight on Saturday, October 31. VOTE NOW
2) Recruit – This is especially important if we are going to win the final round: once you´ve voted, recruit as many friends as you can to do the same. Personalised emails work especially well. All they have to do is register an email address and VOTE. It doesn´t cost them a cent.
3) Blog, Tweet, Facebook - Spread the word through your social networks. The more people hear about this, the better, not only for success in this competition, but on behalf of Rio´s communities.
4) Keep up with the results. Encourage friends who vote to join our mailing list and follow us on Twitter so you can follow what’s going on in Rio and help us pressure local officials in the coming years.
Thank you for all your help! Let´s make it happen! VOTE NOW
Theresa Williamson & the CatComm Team