Casa Weekly

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

National Radio

Five minutes on public radio goes a long way! Today, André Urani, a new commentator on Brazil's national public radio (Rádio CBN), in his program called "Mais Rio" (More Rio), highlighted Catalytic Communities!

André is Executive Director of IETS (Institute for the Study of Labor and Society) in Rio, an economist and ex-Secretary of Labor for the City of Rio.

His piece, featured as an interview in the morning and as a monologue in the afternoon, attracted a large number of new visitors to CatComm's site, from across the country.

To listen to his morning interview (10:35 am) click here (Portuguese only).
To listen to his afternoon monologue (5:10 pm) click here (Portuguese only).

Here's a translation of what André shared:

Whoever said solutions can only come from above? It's because of her belief that things don't have to be that way that Theresa Williamson, daughter of an Englishman and a Brazilian raised in the United States, where her parents worked in international institutions, packed up and moved here to Rio de Janeiro, in 2000. She was completing her doctorate in city planning at the University of Pennsylvania and became fascinated by an experience that was being born here in Rio: that of a network of community managers of social programs. People who had been trained by the City or Doctors Without Borders to formulate diagnostics and implement actions to improve the quality of life in their communities.

Theresa decided to bet on this idea, setting up an NGO, called Catalytic Communities, or CATCOMM, to multiply the potential of these capacity-building initiatives. NGO about which, in the end, she wrote her award winning dissertation.

CATCOMM has a double objective. On the one hand, the organization offers, online and in three languages (Portuguese, English and Spanish) a Community Solutions Database; on the other, they run a model technology center, the "Casa do Gestor Catalisador," in Rio's downtown, that serves as a space for exchanges among local leaders. The Community Solutions Database is visited by more than 20,000 people a month. Today it features 118 projects from 8 countries. In addition to Brazil, the range of countries includes the United States, Canada, Nigeria, Togo, Sudan, India and Israel. Motive of pride for all of us is that 80% of these projects are right here in Rio de Janeiro. And not only from the 4 corners of the Capital, but from various municipalities in the Metropolitan Region, like Itaguái, Mesquita and Maricá. The themes are diverse: from community radio to recycling, adult literacy to odontology. This proves that there are lots of people getting mobilized, pulling up their sleeves, coming up with ideas to escape the hole they're in, without waiting for our politicians to resolve things. The site's address is simple: (Portuguese).

The Casa, in turn, has already received, since it was launched, visits from some 1000 community leaders, coming from 159 city neighborhoods, 7 municipalities across the state, 19 Brazilian states and 19 other nations. It is located at Beco João José #7, in Saúde, near Praça Mauá in Rio. But that's not all: Theresa's work is supported by a vast network of volunteers. With this, in addition to being charismatic and efficient, this work is very inexpensive. The NGO's annual budget doesn't surpass R$200,000 per year (~US$100,000).

If you'd like to know more about CATCOMM, write me at

Until tomorrow.