Casa Weekly

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Community Advisory Board Launched!

I want to preceed this post by apologizing to readers for not posting as often as promised... Please don't take this to mean little is happening, for the very opposite is true! So much is going on at CatComm we are having a hard time keeping on top of it! As a result, we are rethinking and restructuring staff roles to accommodate this exciting growth!

One of the exciting new additions to Catalytic Communities, both as an activity in itself and as part of this rethinking, is our Community Advisory Board. Here's a translation of Neuza's post on our Portuguese blog at
We are very happy to announce the launch, on March 2, 2007, of our new Community Advisory Board! This Board was created per suggestion of CatComm's Board of Directors with the objective of bringing community leaders active at CatComm's Casa in Rio the opportunity to propose ideas and make decisions to improve CatComm's actions in support of community projects in Rio and to engage increasing numbers of active community leaders in CatComm's Casa and website. The Advisory Board is formed of community leaders who've shown concern for CatComm's actions and effectiveness over the years, on various occasions proposing ideas to improve our actions.

Ten community leaders were invited to form the initial Advisory Board. Care was taken to ensure diversity in gender, age, geographic region and thematic focus:

  1. Celso Vergne - Alfazendo, Estimativa, and Terrévida;
  2. Cristina Quadro - Feito Por Nós;
  3. Deley da Cunha ("Deley de Acari") - Fifth Element;
  4. Jana Guinod - Estimativa;
  5. Leidimar Machado - Adolescente Um Passo à Frente, Caixa de Surpresa;
  6. Leilah de Souza Neto - Patchwork Quilt do grupo Mulheres de Pedra;
  7. Márcio Hermínio ("Graffitti") - Cinema Com Batuque;
  8. Monica Xavier ("Combattente");
  9. Pedro Paulo Portela - Projeto Telheiro Cultural;
  10. Reinaldo Santana - Projeto Entrou Por Uma Porta.

Actions Taken:

The Community Advisory Board meets the first Wednesday of each month. During the two meetings following its creation, in April and May, decisions were made and actions taken. Among them were:

(1) The Advisors developed a questionnaire that will be emailed, at the beginning of June, to all community leaders who've used the Casa over the years, with the intention of learning what has brought leaders to the Casa historically, why some have ceased coming, and why others have remained so faithful.

(2) The Advisors made a decision that CatComm should return to its previous policy of allowing community leaders to use computers in its telecenter for an unlimited time, abandoning the 3-hour rule. They reached this conclusion because they decided it is not viable for many leaders to leave their communities to come all the way downtown to the Casa being limited to 3 hours on the machines. A campaign will be run simultaneously: "Free Connection: Cede Your Turn."

In its next meetings the Advisory Board will focus on results from the questionnaire and developinng a communications strategy to bring increasing number of community leaders to the Casa. There have also been ideas about how new meeting styles and debates could attract and support community projects.

Basic Governing Principles

Community Advisors' positions last two years, with the possibility of renewal for two more. The criterion for advisors to maintain their position is active participation in at least 8 of the 12 annual meetings. At the present time, the Community Advisory Board is not a legal entity. The decision to change this will be made down the road by the organization's Board of Directors, depending on how this initial Board evolves and its results. However, the Community Advisory Board has been given autonomy to bring up, discuss, and make decisions during its monthly meetings. These decisions are to be respected by CatComm staff. When differences of opinion exist, the issue will be taken to the Board of Directors. CatComm's staff participates in all meetings, but with time its participation will be reduced and its presence will mainly serve the purpose of supporting the Advisory Board in any ways deemed necessary and accompany the process and results.