Procomum / São Paulo (Brazil)
The Procomum Institute (IP) (https://lab.procomum.org) is a non-profit organization based in Brazil, that began in 2015 with the Technologies and Alternatives project, whose focus was to rethink the role of free culture organizations in the face of the transformations caused by the internet. IP’s mission consists of working towards recognizing, empowering and protecting common goods, as well as creating community networking and preventing enclosure acts carried out by private and/or public sectors. It is, therefore, a political mission, based on the belief that the current world asks of us the emergence of a “(trans-local) citizenship based on local action with planetary awareness”.
Instituto Procomum is built by a team of 11 people who have dedicated themselves to the cause of common good with experience in other organizations and the public and private sectors, but always with the perspective of strengthening civil society. They operate on both local and international levels. They have a social innovation space, LAB Procomum, located in the Santos Basin, a coastal region in the state of São Paulo, acting as a cultural and education centre, fostering network activation methodologies and stimulating local actions in partnership with local agents. The space is equipped with open infrastructures (rooms for residents, hackerspace, makerspace, media laboratory, health and care lab, kitchen, multipurpose sheds, community garden, event square), and has been used for the development of prototypes and projects of local, national and international agents.
Colaboradora is their free, open school that annually selects participants for a collaborative process of learning and project development. By the end of 2020, it had reached at least 100 artists and entrepreneurs. Another networked project called Citizen Innovation Circuit reached throughout its three editions over 30 initiatives, distributing micro-grants to all of them, in five different cities in the region.
Nowadays, LAB Procomum houses a permanent environment for the development of ideas, bringing together 20 different communities of practice that maintain a broad, free programming throughout the year. This work has created new possibilities for the local civil society, which now has a safe, creative environment to develop its actions, in fields as varied as trans protagonism and zero waste.
Gender and other inequalities
IP’s board is composed of 3 directors, among them 2 women: Georgia Nicolau, journalist, cultural manager and a Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science; and Marilia Guarita, journalist specialized in strategic management. Their audience is mostly made up of black women and they make a permanent, active effort to welcome diverse bodies. The project Women-in plural and the Commons was developed in 2017, with about 100 women participating to co-design a citizen laboratory promoting the role of women and welcoming for differences. They have tried to be inventive in the themes of reproductive work, seeking collective solutions for the care of one another, the attention of the children and the elderly, etc.
Best practices and challenges
The emergence of Covid-19 has shown them that the strength of their network goes far beyond the territory, as they also had to adapt beyond the physical space of the LAB: the network of the LAB showed resilience and capacity to organize; the hacker working group quickly came together to produce personal protection equipment; the network of social entrepreneurs organized around two projects that raised money via online crowd funding, irrigating over 60 peripheral entrepreneurs. They also carried out 2 editions of emergency labs in partnership with other organizations, engaging more than 1,000 people and supporting over 30 projects from all over the national territory in areas such as citizen science, economic justice and local economy, art and culture and health and technology.
“The current world asks for the emergence of a (trans-local) citizenship based on local action with planetary awareness“