Technology Choice Matrix Workshop – Casa dos meninos

On August 17th, Bem Estar Brasil Institute facilitated a dynamic that marked the beginning of the education project at Casa dos Meninos. To help us in this task, we studied the methodology called: ‘technology choice matrix’ presented to us by the collective Redes AC in our visit to Cherán.

Our activity started in the kitchen. As soon as we arrived, Fatima, the house’s chief financial officer and web developer, greeted us while chopping onions; she was starting to prepare lunch. As each participant arrived for the meeting, women and men alike rolled up their sleeves and made themselves useful. All the tasks were quickly accomplished: making coffee, ginger tea, chopping vegetables, making rice, beans, chicken, washing dishes, opening and closing the fridge … two neighbors arrived with a plate … In half an hour there was lunch for over 20 people.

We all ate lunch together, 15 participants of the activity and other neighborhood residents who joined the meal. Over lunch, neighbor Maria, a former president of Casa dos Meninos, shared joyful stories of decades past. She told of boys who attended the orphanage in the 1980s and sometimes visited the house. “I planted that tree with Silva” or “I helped make that bank,” they said in those moments of remembrance.

Cleodon Silva Meeting Room – In honor of the influential Brazilian union leader

To help us get active after lunch educator Claudia pulled a fun warm up momentum. Amid laughter and shifted shoes, we began the activity that afternoon.

The exercise involved all those responsible for the continuing education project in community networks, a very distinct and dedicated group. On one side there was the current house staff and residents interested in supporting the project, including the 3 scholarship monitors patroned by Instituto Bem Estar Brasil. On the other side there were volunteers from other neighborhoods, 3 teachers from the audiovisual and software development fronts and other friends of Casa dos Meninos.

The first step of the Technology Choice Matrix is about memory. This is a very persist theme in an organization with more than 50 years of history, which was born as an orphanage of boys and went through so many transformations over the years. There is not a day of activities that this past of social assistance is not mentioned, especially the name of Cleodon Silva, former collaborator and the one responsible to bring the technology perspective in their work with youth.

Because os the limited time we had, we proposed a summarized timeline. Each participant wrote 3 post its. They could choose between 2 colors: blue would be memories of Casa dos meninos and yellow personal moments of transformation envolving technology. Each person presented their memories and put them in the year they belonged on the timeline.

The purpose of this activity was not to map all activities of the House, but to contextualize some activities that participants considered vital and to initiate dialogue between volunteers and external participants with the community.

Then we started looking at the Technology Selection Matrix, a methodology built by Redes AC through its work with indigenous peoples of Mexico. The first step of this methodology is to look at the present; who we are. Where we are. What we do.

We split into 3 mixed groups combining community residents and guests. This was an important listening moment for the volunteers, where they could learn about that territory, its characteristics and challenges.

Community Discussion Group: Our Starting Point

Casa dos Meninos is an urban institution on the outskirts of São Paulo, so some categories such as ‘language’, ‘traditions’ and ‘biodiversity’ were less evident than in other contexts. Jardim São Luis, the neighborhood where the House is located, shares many characteristics with the other under-developed neighborhoods of São Paulo. Such as:

  • Large concentration of people (20,000 in 1km square)
  • Houses originating from irregular urban occupations
  • Urban violence
  • Geography with multiple hills
  • Presence of various styles of music such as funk, forró, rap, among others.

Also several unique features were raised by the residents:

  • A large presence of Northeast immigrants, especially from Pernambuco and Bahia states
  • Close relationship with social movements
  • Greater urban violence among adolescents
  • Lack of living spaces compared to other neighborhoods, especially for young and old people
Phase 1: Starting point

The next step was to get together as a group to talk about the dreams and goals of Casa dos meninos.

What do we dream?

“The construction of a youth and community reference, enpowered of the new technologies and sensitized to a political / social action. An industry that builds new understandings. The appreciation of individual and collective potential. That Casa dos meninos remain a space for construction, learning and opportunities. ”

Phase 2: How do we choose technology

The last step was to think of intranet network design as a tool to help achieve this dream. It is clear to all the participants that the intranet network project would contribute to this proposal, as it represents the “construction of a mirror on the community that reflects it”. With two integrated teaching fronts; technical and political, its main objectives were defined as:

  • Set up the network
  • Train young people, ages 14 to 18, that have little experience as technology creators
  • Work of monitors as facilitators and responsible for assisting in documentation

The main anticipated difficulty in this project was how to integrate both fronts in order to create meaningful intranet use. Some proposed solutions for this were:

  • Relevant content on the network
  • Affection
  • Sensitivity to youth demands
  • Having spaces for dialogue and training between tutors / facilitators

How the participants felt

In the final evaluation of the exercise the participants mentioned that 4 hours was a short time for this exercise and that its final phase was rushed. But all reported being inspired by the challenges of the project and grateful to be part of that team.

We at Instituto Bem Bem Brasil were very happy with the invitation to tutor this activity and look forward to the formation work with the youth of Casa dos Meninos!

“As two and two are four
I know life is worth it
Although bread is expensive
and the freedoms are small”
Ferreira Gullar

Semillero, a dialogue of knowledges

Instituto Bem Estar Brasil had the privilege to be part of the first edition of Semillero of community networks, a space for articulation between people working with indigenous communication and telecommunications in Mexico. This event was organized by the collectives Altermundi and REDES AC

Foto: Carla Jancz

The first Semillero happened from June 19th to 24th in Cherán K’eri, Michoacán, Mexico, a place described by participants as ’emblematic and nourishing’. No doubt that’s exactly what we feel in this place that has such an inspiring story of social fight. Cherán was a relatively unknown territory until 2011, the year in which it started a fight to defend his forest. Organized into ‘fogatas’, campfires in each neighborhood, the local people freed themselves from the threat of organized crime that plundered the forests. This community organization culminated in another action of social transformation and the city freed itself of political parties, declaring itself as an autonomous territory.

The desire to build the community network in Cherán comes from a community radio collective, Radio Fogata. Formed mostly by women, the radio is described as a space “where your voice burns like fire“.

“Community radio is an alternative communication to the mass media, so we are given the opportunity to speak our word, the possibility of getting organized and telling our story.”

The radio proposes the creation of the XAMONETA intranet network, which means: ‘Echo’ in the most widely spoken indigenous language in the region; purepecha. The aim of the network is to support Cherán’s knowledge compilation as a tool to continue and strengthen the political struggle and the reclaiming of traditional values. Creating a community archive is strategic to achieving the goal of linguistic revitalization and providing ‘Connectivity with meaning’.

Foto: Carla jancz

The beginning of Semillero was a presentation wheel with more than 50 people. The event was attended by several groups from all over Mexico, the group Altermundi (Argentina), Colnodo (Colombia) and two Brazilian groups; Instituto bem estar Brazil and Colab.

During the presentation it was asked which languages the participants could speak. Although the language common to almost everyone was Spanish, many spoke indigenous languages of Mexico as the purepecha. They also briefly presented the telecommunication initiatives of their communities; community radios, free GSM and embryos of community networks. It was interesting this dynamic of presentation to see the diversity of languages and protocols interconnected in the same network of people.

Some participants were graduates of the first two classes of the Community Techio, a course in telecommunications held in Mexico in 2017 and 2018. These people were able to reinforce the knowledge acquired at the workshop “Participatory Design of Community Intranets “, facilitated by REDES AC. People in the community of Cherán, managers of community cellular telephone networks and community radios, who did not have this previous contact with digital networks participated in the workshop” Introduction to community networks “of AlterMundi.

In the 3-day community design workshop, participants dreamed and designed a community intranet. Such as the Xamoneta network, whose goal was to create a life memory of Cherán to store local knowledge. One of the strategies to reach this objective was the exercise of ‘Selection and appropriation matrix of TiC’, whose goal was to choose the technologies to be used starting with a reflection on the territory itself, who we are, what are our dreams and strategies to reach them.

“Without this,” explained the facilitator from REDES AC, “Other processes, free software, terabytes, etc., will end before we begin.”

Foto: Carla jancz

During the activity it was reinforced other concepts of union and community, such as YEKNEMILISbuen vivir of the people nahua totonaku – A guiding principle with a lot of synergy with the initiatives there and with the reality of the communities represented. The focus on language and collective process have been a priority throughout the workshop: The community network does not belong to a person or to a facilitating organization, but to the community.

At the same time, 3 nodes of LibreRouter’s were installed throughout the city. Librerouter is a free hardware router developed by Altermundi to be used in community networks Xamoneta was the first community network using solely this model of routers.

Foto: Karla Velasco

As part of the technical support for the community design exercise, the groups from Brazil and Colombia assisted in the installation and training of a server with free software operating system YUNOHOST 3 local services have been installed and customized: WordPress for site creation, NextCloud for file sharing and a game, the three available on the local intranet and administrated by the members of the radio.

The last activity of Semillero was a presentation of the women of Radio Fogata. They shared the history of the collective and the results of the design of their intranet. Also future plans to establish as a conscious entertainment alternative and cooperate with other local community content producers such as TV Cherán and community film groups.

Foto: Carla Jancz

Guiding principles of the XAMONETA intranet:
-Investigation with the community
-Respect the community
-Buen vivir

Instituto bem estar brasil welcomes the opportunity to participate in this exchange, the hospitality of the people of Cherán and the privilege to exchange experiences among other community networks in Latin America.

Urban community networks – New connections between permaculture and autonomous technologies in the outskirts

Horta di gueto is a collective of Taboão da Serra, on the outskirts of São Paulo, whose goal is to bring the knowledge and practices of permaculture and agroecology to its community. The purpose of the collective is to promote the vision, work and collaboration in the suburban areas.

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Foto: Coletivo Candearte

The collective occupies a plaza in Taboão da Serra and performs permaculture activities, a movement that arose in reaction to agribusiness and mix techniques of rural wisdom with new technologies. Some examples of practices promoted by the collective are: agroecological gardening, community composting, paint workshops with earthen paint, activities for kids and a monthly agroecological fair with organic food from quilombola women farmers of Vale do Ribeira.

Taboão da Serra is an underprivileged outskirt neighborhood of São Paulo with approximately 250,000 inhabitants.

May 23 was the beginning of a partnership between the collective and Bem Estar Brazil Institute; a conversation about community networks that took place at the home of Araken, a leading member of Horta di gueto. It is there that the collective meets and works among other things in the preparation of bamboos for bioconstruction; one of its specialties.

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Foto: Carla Jancz

The initial objective of this community network would be to take the internet to the plaza occupied by the collective, and to use a system of tickets with accessible values for the community to make this access.

According to Araken, the internet would be an important tool to strengthen relationships with community residents. This community-managed access would be a tool to help new peripheral entrepreneurs disseminate their work. This is one of the proposals of the headquarters of the collective: be open to anyone who wants to develop local talent.

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Foto: Carla Jancz

During the presentation of what are community networks, the collective also showed interest in the possibility of using services beyond the internet, which could be free for the whole neighborhood. Local services such as radio and video streaming could involve a younger population and attract more people from the community to the training courses held by the collective.

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Foto: Horta di gueto

The Horta di Ghetto is an urban community that promotes autonomy and the traditional way of how the periphery collaborates, works and creates life together, an initiative that for us has a lot of synergy with the Casa dos meninos. Another “node” in the network of people redesigning urban communities through agroecological and digital technologies.

May good fruit be born of these connections!

To know more about the collective Horta di ghetto: