I just got
an S.O.S. call from Shawn, a Canadian who’s lived in Rio de Janeiro for the
past decade. His cleaner Rosimeri called him in desperation after City
authorities left her residence in Babilônia, a favela in the heart of Rio’s
South Zone. They told dozens of families they will be removed to make way for
the widening of a walkway, and told her to sign relocation documents,
promising her a unit in a public housing project being built 2 hours
away. Despite Rosi having documentation of ownership, City officials spoke
with her as if she had no rights and threatened her: ‘sign the papers now
or you'll get nothing.’
Shawn's instincts told him to tell her not to sign and to look
for legal representation. He went online and, through a quick search,
identified a number of local organizations in Rio working to combat forced
evictions, including Rio Olympics Neighborhood Watch (RioOnWatch.org), Catalytic Communities'
community news site providing favela-based coverage on Rio’s fast-paced
transformations in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympics. Among other topics,
RioOnWatch has been chronicling evictions situations across the city since
called us and within minutes had the basic information he needed: legal
contacts, someone ready to report on the situation, and important advice: “The
longer the community resists and the more united they are, the more visibility
they get, the better their outcome. Don’t let Rosi succumb to pressure without
legal counsel and public exposure.” The next day he emailed me saying he’d
called a number of organizations he’d found online working on these issues, and
we were the only ones who answered and provided immediately useful information.
Babilônia’s situation is not unique. Unfortunately we have
received dozens of similar S.O.S.'s, including from nearby Santa Marta where no evictions were
supposed to occur and Rio's first favela Providência, which I wrote an Op-Ed about for the New York Times in August. We've witnessed similar scenarios across Rio de Janeiro since the announcement the city would host the 2016 Olympics, and in every case we've stepped in to help.
authorities feel confident mistreating communities like Providência, Babilônia
and Santa Marta, not to mention dozens of less-heard-of favelas because of the
historic stigmas and misjudgments about the value and qualities of these communities—the
assumption these are ‘slums’ people should not be living in in the first
is why CatComm has become such a vital resource: we provide communities with
the strategic resources of visibility and networks of
support to paint a more accurate and empowering picture of these
communities’ accomplishments as well as the threats they are currently facing,
which, together with unity and legal
representation are the keys to effective resistance. While unity
depends on the long-term bonds of residents themselves, and legal
representation on specific agencies, visibility and networks are something we
can provide immediately as a critical bridge while unity and legal support are
work has become vital to stopping, slowing, and improving outcomes in evictions
situations across the city.
Next week we're meeting with Babilônia residents facing this
latest of Rio's eviction threats. With your help, we'll also be launching
our Community Journalism Initiative: dozens of community journalists in every region of the city could soon be reporting and documenting events as they unfold. But to
carry on our work over the coming months we are depending on the success of our
2012 Rio Raffle.
you prior emails describing the raffle's prizes, the Grand Prize being a 1-week trip
for two to stay in lovely Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro + 2 nights in Praia do Rosa
whale-watching or Salvador. A $4700 value. There are also 2nd and 3rd place
haven't yet donated, please DONATE NOW and ENTER OUR 2012 RIO RAFFLE using Razoo, Network for Good, or PayPal. The deadline is midnight Monday October 15th.
are counting on you, our collaborators and supporters, to help us raise $20,000
by Monday night. We're halfway there and there are only four days left to raise
another $10,000. This email is a call to action: what happens in Rio over the coming years could pave a new path in urban development for cities
around the world. But only with your help.
haven't yet, please SPREAD THE WORD NOW. You can use our fun
first-ever crowd-sourced video with contributions from CatComm
collaborators on multiple continents. You can use this sample email. Or you can simply forward this
message. Our experience is that NOTHING works better than a personal ask, so
please take the time to personally ask friends and follow up. Only with
your help will we be successful in reaching our goal.
to conclude with a huge heartfelt *thank you* to all our
collaborators, supporters, and friends who over the years have provided diverse
types of contributions--talents, time, energy, connections and resources--that
are each a fundamental part of why we have been successful in our work thus
far. We wouldn't have done it without you and we continue to be grateful, and
to count on your help.
& Executive Director