Conversation with women in community networks

feminine noun
natural expression of written or spoken language, without intentional metering and not subject to regular rhythms.

Report of women involved in community network projects. These words were collected during the LOCNET project in 2019, in the communities of Marrecas, state of Rio de Janeiro and the Casa dos Menino Association of southern São Paulo.


-Edwirges, 15 years, resident of the community of Marrecas. Telecentre Monitor.
-Beatriz, 17 years, resident of São Paulo, monitor of Casa dos meninos.
-Daiane, 29 years, President of Casa dos meninos.
-Aline, 39 years, communication at Instituto Bem Estar Brasil, born in Mogi das Cruzes and volunteer in Marrecas.
-Mercia, 53 years, volunteer at Casa dos meninos.




-Research, text and layout: Carla Jancz
-Filming: Stella To and Audiovisual Team of Casa dos meninos
-Video editing: Helena Prado

Imagery about community networks in comics

Author: Carla Jancz

It is not easy to explain the concepts behind community networks, both the technical characteristics of radio frequency networks and the social and human aspects of community technologies.

One of the principles we have developed in teaching technologies with a gendered perspective is language. Teaching a workshop for popular groups using colonising terms and methodologies can increase the existing barrier between people and a technology that was not created for their interests.

With this in mind, images and analogies are powerful tools to make it easier to explain a technical term or an idea. We reject the premise that to do so would in any way underestimate people’s ability to understand technical subjects. We believe that explaining concepts in a language that brings them closer to people and their realities is a form of resistance to the hegemonic, americanised, and patriarchal language in which technology is often taught.

This material is a partnership between Brazilian women, technologists and artists, with the collaboration of people working with community networks in various countries. Its purpose is to illustrate some of these images by blending technical terms such as ‘line of sight’ and ‘mesh topology’ with reflections on why we make community networks and the often invisible role of women within these initiatives.

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“Good afternoon to all the women and a few men” – In front of an auditorium with over 500 women and a handful of men, this was the opening of the closing keynote of LATINITY, an event held on September 6 and 7 in San José, Costa. Rica

Latinity is a Latin American conference inspired by Grace Hopper Celebration, the largest conference that celebrates women in computing. In 2018, the event brought together more than 20,000 people from 78 countries. In the words of one of its creators: “Our event is like Grace Hopper (conference), but in Latin America, with our ‘Latin flavor’, our reality and problematic.”

LATINITY is described as ‘a place where technology-loving Latin American women meet.’ For 2 days participants learn, reflect, exchange experiences and technology-based proposals and have the opportunity to meet other Latin women who share them. interests.

“It is a space for presenting progress in our work, holding workshops, sharing research results, making friends, supporting each other as women in the Latin American region. It is a place to learn, teach, build and strengthen bonds of friendship and affection. It is also a space for critical analysis of the role of technology in our region from our own perspective and a place to propose solutions to the key challenges and risks we have identified in the digital society. It is a space for exchanges with leading women in the region on gender issues in Science, Technology, Art, Engineering and Mathematics (STEAM). ”

“We don’t want more women in technology to have more women in technology. We want more women in technology to have changes in technology. ” Kemly Camacho – Sula Batsú

Fonte: Latinity

The conference exists since 2015 and has already been hosted by Chile, Peru and Colombia. This year, the host country was Costa Rica, bringing the conference to Central America for the first time and with a record attendance of over 500, including 120 fellowship participants whose presence was funded entirely by various sponsors.

In every activity or in the large auditorium it was possible to see women from different countries, cultures and a lot of diversity. Although most of the participating women and girls were young, there were many scholars from rural Costa Rica, indigenous women, and peasant women. This exchange between women technologists and non-technologists is one of the pillars defended by the organization that hosted the event in Costa Rica; Sula Batsú.

“Women technologists should team up with non-tech women. With women in agriculture and indigenous women. Only in this way will we have a technology that reflects the reality of many women. ” – Kemly Camacho – Sula Batsú

Carla Jancz was invited by APC on behalf of Instituto Bem Estar Brasil to participate in two activities in partnership with Colnodo from Colombia:

  • A multicultural panel on community networks to exchange experiences from Brazil, Colombia and Honduras
  • A technical workshop about Mesh network and FUXICO, a Brazilian feminist autonomous network project that was translated into Spanish for this presentation

Both panels were very interesting and brought connection points between projects from different Latin countries. Participation in other workshops and presentations was also very enriching, where those present could learn about initiatives from Latin American countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

“There was a moment in the project that was very beautiful when Guatemalan rural indigenous women uploaded their stories to Wikipedia in their own language. We have 22 ethnic groups in Guatemala and 22 languages. “- Report on TICas project that develops works in the area of digital technologies and communication with girls and adolescents.

In our community networking panel, we were asked what we believe to be the most important thing in a project like this. We believe the answers presented can be shared:

  • Formation and continuity: Setting up the network is just the first step.
  • Flexibility: You can’t get into a community network project close-minded
  • Strength of will: Hard Work and Resilience

“For me the most important thing about a community networking project is being flexible. Many times we were in a field training, empowering women to operate the equipment and we had to stop for the community to pray for rain. It was their custom and we had to respect it. Then the women thanked us, saying that we were the only outsiders who respected their customs. That was worth a lot. ” – Rádio Azacualpa – Honduras

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

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: