Casa Weekly

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Our Goal: A Self-Sustaining Casa

Thank you to all those who've sent in comments and suggestions on next steps.

I´d love to know how readers might be willing and able to help in this effort now that we´ve defined the steps. Our biggest hurdle is going to be buying a space with the location and size to allow this work to truly expand, which could cost between US$150-400,000.

Having purchased the space, we have several high potential ideas for achieving a self-sustaining balance where the center would pay for itself, which would reduce CatComm´s fundraising need over the coming years to simply covering our site (though we are working on an alternative plan to achieve a self-sustaining site, as well; more news on this will come!!). We want to create an organization that covers its own costs.

Here are some of the ideas we are working on for a self-sustaining space, assuming we can own the building:

  1. A 3-4 storey house would allow us to rent the first floor to an alternative restaurant (these are becoming popular in Rio´s downtown) serving vegetarian foods and educating about lifestyle changes. The first floor rent could literally pay for the costs of maintaining the rest of the Casa while educating the general public not only about lifestyle changes but also hosting our exhibitions of community art, and events in the evenings by community organizers (debates, art launches, theatrical and hip hop presentations...)
  2. A 3-storey house with a first floor organized and run by local fair trade groups could generate income for local fair trade, handicraft and community artisans, while providing income towards the Casa. This first floor could also host events in the evenings as described above.
  3. A 3-4 storey house would allow enough room to rent small office space to community organizations as they grow and need a downtown presence, at very low cost, as is done in the San Francisco Women´s building. One organization has expressed interest in launching, in the new Casa, a fixed space for regular capacity-building trainings to teach other community leaders how to set up community radio stations, and to hold discussions on the impact of the media and communications.

These are some ideas. We welcome others!



Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Next Steps

Today, all 800+ community organizers who´ve benefitted from the Casa over the years were sent an email, updating them on developments. Here´s that email, inviting them (and you!) to get involved in this exciting new beginning...

Dear Rio organizers,

The responses we´ve received from you demonstrating your concern and care towards CatComm and the Casa have been deeply moving. More than 40 leaders responded to our last message, from all over the city, wanting to know how they could provide support in the reconstruction of the Casa. Several people asked us to keep them informed regarding decisions made.

Since the break-in on January 17th, we had an open meeting at the Casa, while simultaneously collecting recommendations and suggestions via email. We concluded that we will take advantage of this incident to take a leap in improving our work, searching for new options that will bring more activities and visibility to the community projects in Rio, in addition to seeking a solution that will allow the Casa to be financially self-sustaining.

For this, we´ve defined the following next steps:

  1. Activities at the current Casa location will be brought to an end with a big birthday party (three years) on February 23, at 5pm, taking advantage of this opportunity to open Rio´s 2006 carnival with the local block Escravos da Mauá. This will be an opportunity to commemorate the closing of a cycle and launch of a new one. We look forward to seeing many of Rio´s community organizers then!
  2. Next we will focus our attention on the search for a new space that offers greater visibility and more room, to better meet our mission: bringing more visibility to local projects across Rio de Janeiro and offering greatly expanded opportunities for horizontal community exchange and capacity-building. We are counting on local organizers to recommend new spaces in Rio´s center (between Lapa and Gamboa).
  3. As soon as as we have some good basic options, we will send out an email to all the community organizers who frequent the Casa to vote. One of the options will be to maintain the current location of the Casa.
  4. As soon as the results are tallied, we will finalize the partnerships we need to implement the Casa in its new location. Please let us know how you´d like to partner and support this process!
  5. Installations of new equipment in the technology center, meeting rooms, workshop rooms, kitchen, and electrical work and painting will be carried out.
  6. The new Casa will be launched in grand style!

Your collaboration is not only welcome but vital as we move towards this objective. Please be in touch with suggestions, ideas, resources and the rest! Let us know which of these steps you´d like to be involved in.

Excited to move forward,

CatComm Staff
(Marilia Ferreira, Roseli Franco, Martha Mazzei, Neuza Nascimento, Edilson Pinheiro, Theresa Williamson, Rosa Zambrano)

Catalytic Communities (CatComm)

Casa address:
Beco João José No. 7, Largo São Francisco da Prainha, Saúde, Rio de Janeiro