Santo André Sustainability and Citizenship Network – Porto Alegre, Brazil

Santo André Sustainability and Citizenship Network – Porto Alegre, Brazil


The Sustainability and Citizenship Networks aim to integrate communities living in high social vulnerability within the legal city These communities are usually invisible communities to the government; take Vila Santo André as an example We seek community empowerment we foster community leadership They helped us become thinking beings in our society They taught us that we have the right to go and demand by saying “Look, I live in Vila Santo André and I’m here because I want improvements to my community” It is only by working together and collaboratively that we will achieve results for the challenges we choose to face There was no electricity grid, people used clandestine connections there were frequent fire outbreaks because of short circuits Or people… there were many blackouts here People sometimes dropped a candle. Fire broke out This happened many times. We did not have running water people who lived here at the lower part of the settlement had three water tanks at each end of the community where they got their water supply from The water we drank ran in clandestine hoses The water was also a clandestine connection we got from the entrance of the settlement to here These hoses snaked through the trash, sludge and in contact with all sorts of animals And this was the water we drank It was horrible, horrible It was a dump in front of the community people lived in mountains and mountains of waste We start to see who are the community leaders what are the existing and not existing public services in this community who are the possible partners to support us in this network In our case, Concepa built this headquarter here they are a great partner of ours The Sustainability and Citizenship Network discussions usually take place on site, in the territory where the communities live And why is that so? To connect these communities to the city to help these people living in the communities become actual citizens We live in a big city, Porto Alegre, we live in a state capital And why people do not have access to the electricity network and potable water to drink, which is something essential in a person’s life? The Sustainability and Citizenship Networks are non-partisan networks At first, we didn’t accept it “It must be another politician coming here” Each of us has their political party but these parties have to stay in their offices because the interest at that moment the challenge at that moment is the community What has changed in Santo André? When we were introduced to the Sustainability and Citizenship Network Today we are a community where everyone has electricity from the grid in their houses, that is, no more fire outbreaks people pay for their electricity, they have an electricity bill which is very important as a proof of residence, because we did not have one before and the water system was a great achievement, especially for me because many people who lived down here had no shower, had no toilet because the water did not have enough pressure to use them when the water was connected, if you walked through the community people would look at you with gleam in their eyes because they could take a shower something so… I can’t explain it… it is something so… sorry We have to teach people we need to work in network we need to live in network. The network has to live inside us so we can… because we do not change things alone, but we change when we join hands with the others think the same way and try to look for a better way to live in the community These networks started in 2007 to face a major challenge in the city which was the resettlement of Vila Chocolatão picture this in your mind a community that lived for nearly 30 years in the inner city they survived from the garbage collection At that time the word ‘resilient’ didn’t exist today I see the Sustainability and Citizenship Network as a network of pure resilience because we face big challenges, like in Chocolatão they were going to move to a location away from their destination it was an opportunity to move, to get a new house as a present, as they say – but it is not like that They will move, will have a new home, but that was not enough in itself we had to understand, and society has to understand that when a community is resettled, people have the right to not only a home they have the right to change their life into a new life

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