In Rio de Janeiro, from August 23 to 27, 2018, Catalytic Communities* (CatComm) organized a series of workshops on Community Land Trusts (CLTs), together with a special delegation from the Caño Martín Peña CLT based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The workshops were designed to discuss this urban planning tool and consider its potential applicability in Brazilian favelas. Over the five days of workshops, 130 individuals participated, including fifty community leaders and residents of Rio’s favelas. The workshops were organized in partnership with the Rio de Janeiro State Public Defender’s Office, the Pastoral de Favelas, the Rio de Janeiro Architecture and Urbanism Council (CAU), the Laboratory for Studies of Transformations in Brazilian Urban Law (LEDUB), the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (LILP), and the Global Land Alliance’s Center for CLT Innovation.
The final day of workshops took place on Monday, August 27 at the Rio de Janeiro Architecture and Urbanism Council (CAU). The morning session was directed towards government officials to present the Caño Martín Peña case study comprehensively and systematically in a way that they could take back to their offices and be aware of the tool (hopefully in a position to understand and thus offer support) as efforts to instate CLTs develop further in Rio. The afternoon session was a final closing reflection of the five days of activities, open to the general public and especially to those who had participated throughout the five days.
Morning Presentations to Rio Authorities
The morning activities began with a short presentation by Catalytic Communities’ Executive Director Theresa Williamson, situating the Community Land Trust model in the context of the global affordable housing crisis. The Puerto Rican delegation then dug in deep, telling their story and thoroughly explaining the process of creating the Caño Martín Peña CLT, locally known as the Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña.
Lyvia Rodríguez del Valle, Executive Director of the Caño CLT, gave her most thorough presentation of the five days during the morning with Rio authorities. Representatives of public institutions in Rio present at the event had many questions about the Puerto Rican case, specifically about how the plan was implemented and who was involved in the process. Members of the Puerto Rican delegation explained that the majority of residents in the eight communities situated along the canal do not live within the CLT, but are impacted by its decisions. Attendees asked about the relationship between these two groups of residents—whether or not renters could be included in the CLT, and what happens when families decide to pass down their titles to multiple children. Representatives of the Land and Cartography Institute of the State of Rio de Janeiro (ITERJ) asked about how the CLT decided on construction regulations. Attendees were also interested in how the Puerto Rican delegation passed the law that helped them institute their CLT.
Afternoon Closing Session
The afternoon session was led by Lyvia Rodríguez del Valle, Alejandro Cotté Morales, Evelyn Quiñones Ortiz, and Mario Nuñez Mercado, representing the three institutions that form the CLT: the Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña, the Group of Eight Communities (G-8), and the public corporation ENLACE. Following brief introductory comments, workshop participants broke out into two groups: favela residents interested in the CLT model as a form of collective land ownership, and technical specialists interested in supporting the implementation of a CLT in Rio. The technical support group was facilitated by Rodríguez, executive director of ENLACE. The community group was facilitated by Cotté, director of citizen participation and social development of ENLACE, alongside community leaders Quiñones (vice president of the G-8) and Nuñez (treasurer and public representative of the G-8).
As favela residents from Rio shared their thoughts and concerns about CLTs with the Puerto Rican community representatives, Rodríguez discussed best practices for supporting communities in the process of implementing a CLT. In both groups, Rodríguez and Cotté stressed that it is important for the community to lead the project; while technical specialists often have good intentions, they sometimes arrive and create projects and regulations that the community itself does not want or need. The community group discussed solutions to this issue based on the experience of the Caño Martín Peña CLT: hiring technical specialists from the community, if possible, and consulting as many specialists as possible to get a variety of ideas and opinions.
Furthermore, the community group discussed various on-the-ground concerns surrounding the implementation of CLTs—such as challenges that arise in the context of violence and drug trafficking—as well as community organizing strategies such as ways of spreading information (and preventing misinformation) and developing social projects. Cotté was quick to note that all of these concerns are real and ongoing in the communities of the Caño Martín Peña. One important suggestion was to involve children and youth as much as possible. Youth involvement in the planning of social projects not only boosts participation but also helps prevent violence and spread accurate information about the project throughout the community by word of mouth—all at a level that any citizen can understand. Favela residents present at the event shared experiences from their own communities and found many common threads between Rio de Janeiro and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, the technical group was asked by Rodríguez to focus on the question: “What can I do now to support a favela CLT in Rio?” which spurred incredible statements of intention and potential contributions from the technical professionals present. These ranged from the state regularization agency, ITERJ, demonstrating a commitment to putting personnel in roles of engagement to debate CLTs with interested communities, to architects and planners committed to supporting a potential community CLT in its long-term participatory planning exercises. Rodríguez then went further with these professionals, asking a range of questions to further explore their interests, and suggest how they may engage best in support of interested communities. After all, this process must be community-driven.
Finally, both groups joined to discuss the potential challenges of implementing a CLT in Rio and to share reflections about the five days of workshops. Community leaders and technical allies were able to hear directly from one another about their expectations and concerns with developing such a project. Overall, both groups seemed optimistic about the possibility of successfully creating and implementing a CLT project in Rio and thanked the Puerto Rican delegation for their hard work and dedication.
Rounding out the week’s activities, the Puerto Rican delegation shared their reflections and hopes for the group. To wrap up the experience, community leader Evelyn Quiñones Ortiz said: “I’m leaving tomorrow. I hope that before I leave this world, I hear that you all in favelas have also become owners of the land. Always remember that the land is yours and that the land is not for sale.”
For more information about the CLT model or to join the CLT Working Group, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “GT do TTC – Interesse em participar.” Meetings are conducted in Portuguese.
*Catalytic Communities is the organization that publishes RioOnWatch