Response. Relief. Renewal.
Our grassroots approach involves an active, experienced, on-the-ground presence with a focus on providing the resources, processes and tools required to empower local people and groups to take an active role in the renewal and strengthening of their own communities. In addition, we are committed to bridging the gap between individuals who are willing to help and organizations that can effect change. Central to that commitment is the notion that communication, information, and strategic partnerships are vital for strengthening local communities in their renewal. Greece Communitere has been on the ground in Thessaloniki, Greece since April 2017. We look forward to sharing how Greece Communitere has supported local communities affected by both the refugee and economic crises.
When crisis strikes, Communitere responds. Communitere was established immediately after the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Our assessment teams work with community members and organizations to provide immediate emergency services and support.
Communitere launches location-specific relief programs that foster connectivity and the establishment of aid that was truly needed by the local community. Our programs fill gaps in humanitarian assistance and promote sustainable resource use.
In this phase, Communitere helps create lasting infrastructures designed to be used and maintained by local communities. We support community members in renewing their communities with their own ideas and goals, ultimately strengthening civil society through an inclusive approach to development and social change. We also provide the space for local, national and international groups and organizations that require the resources and a physical location to work with the local community to support their renewal.
Erika has been working at the nexus of social innovation and advanced technologies for several years. She has a Master in Social Entrepreneurship and is the founder of immersive media companies to empower people who often go unseen. With her deep understanding of multi-stakeholder collaboration and community building, she is directing the Greece Communitere team to create and build programs and activities for all residents of Greece. She is an expert at launching and co-creating social and technological innovations with difficult to reach communities. Having worked previously in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and across Lebanon and in disadvantaged communities across the United States. When not in the “office” of Greece Communitere, Erika – a San Francisco native – can be found photographing and filming in Virtual Reality and teaching others to do the same. With a free weekend she may also be found camping, rock climbing, or out surfing.
An argumentative talker and passionate writer since early age, Ângela believed her future was to hold a journalistic career since she was 5 and watched the Berlin Wall coming down on TV news. Somewhere along the way she was corrupted by her own ideas and ended up graduating in Public Relations and Advertising in 2007. For 8 years she rolled into the both loved and hated world of media relations and spin strategies for clients as diverse as pharmaceutical companies and consumer goods, by the time she was 30 the lack of human enrollment and creativity on the job led to the decision of making a U-turn and jump to the brand management and creative strategy site. That was an exciting period but also short! In December 2015, facing the ever-growing movement and despair of the asylum seeker reaching Europe, was about to lose her mind as a deep anguish met a daily vertigo engulfing her faith in Humanity – she decided to join the Caravan of Hope, with the Associação Famílias Como as Nossas, driven on a political dash rather than on a solidarity urge. Her action was (and still is), to herself, her true assertion on Europe. Believing this would be a one time shot, the door was open and would not be closed again. February 2016 came and she leaves behind a comfortable professional career, and wave home farewell for to join the ranks of volunteers at the one refugee camp which became the largest in modern Europe after the borders’ closure in March 2016 – Idomeni. Home became a larger concept as going back while needed won’t be an option. In May 2016 she decided to re-design her life path: gave up on the house rental and returned it to the landlord, cancelled the health insurance, sold the car, searched for short term jobs and launched a small crowdfunding operation asking for support to raise the funds to stay on the ground. Based in Thessaloniki, and planning to carry on this line of action here or wherever need will take her – in Greece, in Serbia, in Turkey … the place is not what really matters: ”I am Portuguese!” she states it aloud proudly; “I come from a people whose roots do not cling to the soil, and halting is not our DNA heritage”.
Miguel Oso Loustaunau Calvillo, Mexican performing and plastic artist, youth trainer specialized in non formal education techniques, creative builder, decoration conceptualization and builder, handy man, former molecular biologist. Started his professional artistic training at the Universidad de Sonora in the theater art department, after that he has done courses and workshops in several performing disciplines with professors from Del´arte School of Physical Theater, Diplomado Teatro del Cuerpo and independent professional artists from around the globe. During the past 17 years of performing professionally in theaters and alternative spaces worldwide he has participated in several festivals, stages and events in Mexico, Costa Rica, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland, Spain, Greece, Kenya, India, Romania and Italy. His background as a youth training and non formal education techniques comes from participating, coordinating, writing and running of Erasmus + training programs and youth exchanges, and several theater, performing arts and plastic art workshops conducted worldwide in colaboration with FIX in arts and Youthfully Yours, Greece, CallistoArts, Italy, and BartQltura Association, Poland; as volunteer facilitator in manual art workshops for underprivileged children with ngo ARSIS in Thessaloniki, L´ong c´est toi French based circus/humanitarian project and Msanii cultural center in Kenya, Circo Fantazztico in Costa Rica and the Alas y Raices program in Mexico His training as a creative builder, decorator, and handy man comes form hands on experience working as plumber assistant, carpenter assistant, mason assistant in Mexico, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in Arizona, escenography direction and crew for theater and television in Mexico, construction and retrofitting crew in several artistic and alternative living and cultural spaces in France and Holland, construction crew for music festivals and events in Greece in colaboration with Water Drop festival, Space lab, amongst others. He has also participated in several workshops for alternative building techniques using straw bales, plastic bottles filled with sand or dirt, adobe bricks, clay and reed, geodesic domes using metal and wood frames in Mexico and France. Most recently involved in the planning and construction of different structures and of the retrofitting of a camper trailer (work in progress) in collaboration with EKO Project in Vasiliki, Greece and developing creative workshops and managing sustainable construction projects in collaboration with the Humanitarian Solutions advisor of the World Wide Tribe, Dan Teuma.
Greece Communitere Committee Co-Chair, M&E
Willow Brugh, known as willowbl00, works with digital tools to enable coordination between response agencies and emergent response groups in areas affected by fast and slow crisis. She studies citizen engagement and combining distributed and centralized decision making structures at the Center for Civic Media at MIT’s Media Lab. Previously she’s been a Professor of Practice at Brown University, an affiliate at the New England Complex Systems Institute, and a fellow at Harvard Law’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Moderating transumanist discussion groups lacked direct action, so she cofounded a makerspace in Seattle. Those lacked scale, so she cofounded the Space Federation to legitimize and link hacker, maker, and coworking spaces across the US. Those lacked impact on inequality, so Willow cofounded Geeks Without Bounds as an organizer and host of social good hackathons. Those lacked sustainability, so Geeks Without Bounds shifted into an accelerator for humanitarian projects. The capacity to use those tools and methods was lacking in the larger response space, so Willow became the Community Leadership Strategist at Aspiration to increase capacity in digital response. In brief, Willow looks at connections, systems, empowerment, and powerlessness and strives to both understand and improve whatever she finds. Sometimes that’s with the Occupy Sandy Movement, sometimes it’s with the Naval Defense University. She has transcendance tattoos that are impressive enough to be photographed for a National Geographic blog, and has keynoted the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference. Willow has successfully worked with FEMA Field Innovation Team for Hurricane Sandy, and was awarded a ceremony at the White House for her contribution.
When Brent Dixon was a kid, he wanted to be a tractor. That didn’t work out, and so now he’s an interdisciplinary designer, educator, and community organizer without a home address. He currently serves as Chief Design Officer for Trabian, a design and rapid prototyping studio that makes it easier for social entrepreneurs to experiment with financial technology. Brent recently lead the creation of Unite Labs, an experimental think-and-do-tank housed in the United Nations’ Office of Information and Communication Technology. He co-chaired the UN Innovation Network, and worked to increase public participation in global development through the UN’s Non-Governmental Liaison Service, an office dedicated to shared wisdom and collective action. He was a 2012 Teaching Fellow at Singularity University and mentored 80 entrepreneurs and researchers from 36 countries on using disruptive technology to address global challenges. He was Vice-Chair of The Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive, a network that empowers students to create ethically-sourced, cooperatively-run food enterprises on college campuses. In 2010 he founded the The Cooperative Trust, a global grassroots network of young people fighting for the future of socially responsible finance. Brent joined to Communitere in 2017, and now volunteers as a designer, co-organizer, and the committee chair of our Greece project. His work is driven by a fascination for what makes people tick.
Greece Communitere Committee Member
Lilia Tamm is Director of the Open Debate Coalition, an alliance of progressive, conservative, and Silicon Valley leaders dedicated to reforming electoral debates in the United States. Lilia spent her early career helping the progressive movement make the leap from traditional field organizing to harnessing the power of the grassroots online with groups including MoveOn.org, SEIU, Tuition Relief Now, and Environmental Action. In 2008 she served as National Blog Outreach Director and Statewide Youth Vote Director for California’s No On Prop 8 campaign, and founded the Courage Campaign Equality Program. Lilia returned to school in 2009, studying business and leadership as a graduate student at Stanford and rapidly accelerating technologies as a student and teaching fellow at Singularity University. Following her time there, she joined the founding team of mobile app start-up Connect.com and helped grow it to over 1 million users. Lilia trains adult students on a variety of subjects, from design thinking to fundraising to giving and receiving feedback in the workplace. Follow the Open Debate Coalition and Lilia on Twitter: @OpenDebate & @LiliaTamm.
Communitere International Founder & Executive Director
Sam Bloch has devoted the past decade to post-disaster relief in Thailand, Peru, Cuba, Haiti, the Philippines, Nepal, and most recently in the humanitarian crisis in Greece. As the founder of Communitere, Sam has collaboratively created an innovative, community-focused disaster response model that diverges radically from the traditional methodology. Communitere provides an active, experienced, on-the-ground presence in the initial stages of intervention that use a human centered design workshop process to ascertain the appropriate resources, processes and tools needed to help the affected community take an active role in the renewal of their own community. To that end, Sam “walks his talk”: for eight of the past eleven years, Sam has lived full time in these disaster-affected communities, working in partnership with people as they rebuild. Sam has also played a key role in opening up the Maker Movement to the social impact arena and works to bring grass roots voices to the global discussion on humanitarian intervention in the 21st Century.
Stephanie is an international lawyer with 15 years international experience in legal advising and program/operations management. She has worked at the local, national, regional and international levels with the UN/IOs, NGOs, and the military. Stephanie’s skills in liaising, negotiating, and reconciling diverse issues stems from her background in both science and law, having worked in molecular biology at NASA, holding a Juris Doctorate, and an MA in International Law and Human Rights. Stephanie has taught international graduate students in Costa Rica, was a Fulbright Scholar in Kazakhstan, advised the UN and Sudanese government on human rights protections in Sudan, and has consulted with NATO on gender inclusion and the role of IOs and NGOs in civil-military interaction. She has founded several non-profit organizations, acted as legal counsel to a private technology company, and has worked as a lawyer in private practice. Stephanie’s diverse background has taught her that holding space for people, whether in communities or individually, is the greatest service we can provide to our global village.
Communitere International Chief Storyteller
With a background in community-driven development, Lindsay has focused in on media and communications as a tool for community development and social change. Through work and research, she’s explored themes of participatory communication and development, information and communication technology for development, documentary storytelling, media and activism, and development of the media itself. Lindsay has worked in communications for several organizations in Haiti including Haitian-American Caucus, Haiti Communitere, Fonkoze, and the Archimedes Project. She has also worked in Myanmar for UNOPS, as Communications and Knowledge Development Analyst for the LIFT Fund. In Greece, she volunteered as a Coordinator for MarhaCar, and helped to launch Greece Communitere. She has an MA in Media Practice for Development and Social Change from the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK.