Volunteering: Catalytic Communities
Catalytic Communities is a Rio de Janeiro-based nonprofit organization founded in 2000 working to recognize, share, strengthen, and project community solutions from Brazil and around the world. Our mission is to provide access to global networks to increase visibility, networking capacity, horizontal capacity-building, and media exposure of community solutions.
CatComm is classified as a 501[c] not-for-profit organization in the United States, in addition to its not-for-profit status in Brazil. Though the organization was inspired by local realities in Rio de Janeiro, the need for exchange networks knows no borders. Our on-the-ground work is focused on growing the capacity of the broader global Portuguese-language community to access and participate in global knowledge networks.
Over the past nine years we have developed the Community Solutions Database (CSD), a collection of over 250 solutions documenting the efforts of communities in 21 countries around the world. These solutions span a wide range of topic areas, including business and economy, community-building, culture and leisure, education, the environment and health. In addition to this work, CatComm incubates local projects in Rio de Janeiro with an eye towards developing sustainable models for others to replicate elsewhere. Our first project, launched in 2003, was a community center and technology hub for local civic leaders in Rio called the Casa do Gestor Catalisador (Casa).
In 2009 CatComm and WiserEarth, an international civic directory and networking forum, embarked on a bold new partnership. CatComm is currently syncing its CSD with WiserEarth Solutions. This will enable communities across the world to access one integrated database of civic solutions. The benefits are enormous. Not only will CatComm’s community partners have access to the knowledge resources of WiserEarth’s 1,500,000 users from 243 countries around the world, we will grow this platform to reflect the activities of often overlooked and underrepresented squatter and indigenous communities in the developing world.
To understand how we are using technology today, take a look at our new site concept.
Our on-the-ground approach is informed by and in turn supports our incubation of local model solutions for replication worldwide, starting with the Casa do Gestor Catalisador (Casa), a community center model we incubated and launched as a technology hub for community leaders in Rio de Janeiro from 2003-2008. During this period, we provided more than 1,000 community leaders from 215 Rio neighborhoods, 23 Brazilian states, and 22 nations a range of services, including helping them open their first email accounts, write project proposals, participate in workshops, gain access to RFPs and trainings, and leverage the resources available on the Internet. Most of all, we provided them with an opportunity to connect with each other (view photo archive).
Today we are incubating a new project in Rio de Janeiro. RioFloresta will work to undo decades of neglect in providing green spaces to the communities of Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone while helping mobilize communities adapting to climate change. With less than 5% tree cover, Rio’s post-industrial North Zone is chronically 5°F (2°C) warmer than the city’s South Zone (benefitting from over 70% tree cover). As a result, the region suffers from the urban heat island effect: high temperatures, polluted air, and health problems prevail. There are also psychological consequences of living without access to green space and the sense of impermanence that creates. CatComm hopes to begin piloting RioFloresta in early 2010. We will choose communities to participate in the program based on demand, need, and demonstrated commitment through participation. Tree-planting will be a vehicle through which communities learn to mobilize and adapt to climate change. Capacity-building for the City’s broader tree-planting program and an environmental education curriculum will be additional benefits of the program.