Monday, January 09, 2006

Rio Trip Winner: Jason Yax!

Dear Friends,

Last Friday amidst informal community meetings, a staff gathering, and community leaders from over 7 Rio city neighborhoods using the computers at the Casa to develop their community programs, we did the drawing to see which of you Pledge signers would win a trip to Rio for two to visit CatComm in person in 2006.

Jason Yax, a young doctor from Michigan, was selected!!! His name was literally pulled out of a hat by Edson Cardoso, a youth leader from Nova Iguaçu on the outskirts of Rio, previously coordinator of the Casa. Edson was at the Casa to get the word out about the grand opening of his community garden next Wednesday, January 11th.

Congratulations, Jason! Jason has recently graduated from his residency and now works as a hospitalist at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. He is applying for Infectious Disease fellowships for 2007. In the interim, he is also looking into international medical volunteer opportunities and taking classes of personal interest. As a medical student Jason did a 4 week rotation at the UNESP medical school / hospital in Botucatu, about 100km west of São Paulo. He also visited Salvador, Bahia in 1995 as a college student on Semester at Sea. This will be Jason's first opportunity to visit Rio de Janeiro, and CatComm, however. He plans to bring his younger brother Justin Yax, also a doctor who has dedicated himself to international infectious disease research in places as diverse as Sri Lanka and Ecuador.

We look forward to welcoming Jason and Justin to Rio this year and to take them on visits to community health programs in the city's favelas.

Following this experience, we hope to make visits to Rio a regular feature of future CatComm outreach efforts. If you'd like to strengthen these efforts further, please consider donating airline miles.

This is the last email I expect to send to this general Pledge List. Those of you who have not yet signed up to get regular updates from CatComm, please visit our homepage and sign up for our e-newsletter, which goes out periodically. Otherwise, you may not hear from us and follow our work in the future. And those of you who have not yet made your first monthly or annual contribution to CatComm, please revisit last week's message or email me directly ( for help in doing so.

Finally, I am launching a new blog that I will be updating with the help of CatComm interns from around the world for those who are interested in following our work in Rio closer up. Visit for more, or bookmark the blog at:

Warm wishes for a fabulous 2006!

And thank you for all you have made possible for Catalytic Communities and hundreds of communities worldwide in 2006 and beyond!

Theresa Williamson
Executive Director

Original Pledge: "I will set up a $10 monthly donation to CatComm (or $120 annually) but only if 199 other people will too, and only if one philanthropist will match our joint donations dollar for dollar." (

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

How to Make Your Donation

Dear Friends,

Thank you once again for signing the Pledge "I will set up a $10 monthly donation to CatComm (or $120 annually) but only if 199 other people will too, and only if one philanthropist will match our joint donations dollar for dollar," which has now been met!

As promised, in this email I will provide a variety of options as to how you can make your $10 monthly or $120 annual donation to Catalytic Communities in 2006. At the moment US$120 = GBP 70 (pounds) = BRL 282 (Brazilian reais). Don't forget, your contribution is tax-deductible in the USA. And thank you to those of you who have already sent your Pledge contribution!

Here are five donation options; if none suit you and you would like help finding a better approach, please contact me directly ( Here goes!...


Check - mail your $10 check each month, or $120 annual contribution, to Catalytic Communities, PO Box 42010, Washington, DC 20015, USA. 100% of your $120 comes directly to Catalytic Communities if your check is US-issued.


Wire CatComm's US bank account - Set up a monthly or one-time wire transfer directly to Catalytic Communities' US bank account using the following information: Recipient: Catalytic CommunitiesBank: CitibankAccount #: 66796954Routing #: 254070116100% of your $120 comes directly to Catalytic Communities if your account is US-based.


Wire CatComm's Brazil bank account - Set up a monthy or one-time wire transfer directly to Comunidades Catalisadoras' Brazil bank account using the following information: Recipient: Comunidades CatalisadorasBank: Banco ABN Amro Real SA no. 356Agência/branch: 1360Account #: 6001403-5CHIPS UID 012995SWIFT ABNABRSP100% of your $120 comes directly to Catalytic Communities if your account is Brazil-based.


Credit card, bank transfer, or debit via PayPal - if you subscribe to PayPal service online, or plan to do so, you may make your contribution via PayPal by visiting our homepage and clicking in the upper left on "PayPal." For those who do not know PayPal, it is a highly trustworthy Internet-based payment service powered by Ebay, which accepts contributions in just about any currency type. 97.5% of your $120 comes directly to Cataytic Communities, as PayPal keeps 2.5% for offering their services.


Credit card via Network for Good - if you don't want to sign up for PayPal and would prefer to go through a very reputable nonprofit donation-receiving service, you may choose to use Network for Good, powered by GuideStar (the US's clearinghouse of nonprofit information and transparency), also by visiting our homepage and clicking in the upper left, this time on "Credit." Network for Good's site also allows you to specify you would prefer to make an automatic monthly contribution, saving you hassle down the road. 95% of your $120 comes directly to Catalytic Communities, as Network for Good keeps 5% for offering their services.

Thanks, once again, for your support!

Warmest wishes,


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Woo hoo! Pledge is Met!!

Early on December 31st I arrived in São Paulo airport, on my way back to Rio from almost 3 months Stateside, to find a welcome Internet connection where I could check on the status of our Pledge. To my excitement, the Pledge had not only been matched, but it went over! By the end of the day, the Pledge closed with 231 signers, 32 over target!

Woo hoo!

The results of this Pledge drive were multiple:

  1. We were able, on very short notice, to focus our energies on getting signers for the Pledge, whose joint contributions would total half of CatComm's 2006 budget, and as such allow us to expand and grow our work solidly in 2006 as we develop a sustainable funding base.
  2. Our networks of supporters and those aware of our work grew dramatically. Not only did the Pledge attract well over 150 new supporters, but the number of visitors to CatComm's site grew solidly from a total of 11,000 in September, to 13,000 in October, and 15,000 in November and December. Twelve new volunteers signed up on our site during the Pledge period. Pledge signers include individuals from four continents.
  3. During the Pledge drive period, the Omidyar Network's online community gave a $10,000 grant to Catalytic Communities, which was used, along with an anonymous contribution, to yield the match necessary to make the Pledge effective.
  4. The Pledge attracted the interest of Social Edge (the Skoll Foundation's social entrepreneurship website) and various blog postings during its 6-week duration. Check out the rest of this Campaign Countdown blog to read each posting.
  5. And the results are still coming in!
As a result of our successful use of PledgeBank, I have signed another pledge on their site:, pledging 5 hours of my time each month, specifically to helping develop PledgeBank in Brazil. I encourage others to join, too. I want to see this wonderful tool grow!

So, here is the message I sent out to all signers:

Hello friends!

Happy New Year and thank you for making our pledge successful! Rest assured, your commitment to the Pledge to CatComm Sustainability ( will make an enormous difference to the work we do in Rio de Janeiro and around the world in 2006.

Over the next few days you will be receiving two final messages from me: one detailing the various ways you can donate your $10 monthly or $120 for 2006 to Catalytic Communities; the other announcing the winner of our drawing for a trip for two to Rio!

Once again, thank you for your commitment to networking and bringing visibility to community solutions worldwide. We did it!

Theresa Williamson
Executive Director
Catalytic Communities

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Jean's last email request

Here's what Jean Russell, member, life coach, and now CatComm volunteer, wrote today in her last request to friends to sign the Pledge:

Support your global social entrepreneur

One more day to go and only ten signers needed to meet our pledge! Signing the pledge enters you into a drawing for a trip to Rio!!!

$10,000 of the match for this pledge came from my online community, where social entrepreneurs roam the wikis!

Theresa and the pledge received visibility at via the Global X blog.

This is the foundation started by Ebay founder Jeff Skoll—yes, another social entrepreneur champion.

And, I am currently writing a recommendation for Theresa to become an Ashoka Fellow for Brazil. If you watched PBS: New Heroes, you know what I am talking about!

I would be so ecstatic if my friends close this pledge. We have the match, everything is in place. Will you join us?

"I will set u p a $10 monthly donation to CatComm (or $120 annually) but only if 199 other people will too, and only if one philanthropist will match our joint donations dollar for dollar."
— Theresa Williamson, Founder and Executive Director

Deadline to sign up by: 31st December 2005 189 people have signed up, 10 more needed
Country: United States

More details
Should this Pledge be met, all signers will be put in a drawing for a free trip for two, including travel and accommodations, to Rio de Janeiro!Not only that, but meeting this pledge will allow CatComm to thrive in 2006! It's as simple as $10 a month! We are counting on you to help us meet our 2006 core budget.Catalytic Communities' mission is to develop, inspire and empower a global network of communities generating and sharing solutions.CatComm connects communities through spaces both physical and virtual. The "Casa," our model networking hub in Rio de Janeiro offers a space for face-to-face events and Web access for community leaders across that metro region, while our Community Solutions Database and other online tools make searchable, detailed, community-generated solutions to everyday challenges available across languages and borders.Over 500 leaders from 72 city neighborhoods depend on our Casa. Over 11,000 people in 65 countries use our website monthly. Over 100 community success stories have been documented to date.Please get the word out about this Pledge. Visit the Campaign Countdown blog at for support materials.For information about the Rio drawing visit visit for more information.Note: CatComm is a 501[c][3] tax-exempt organization in the USA and a registered non-governmental organization in Brazil.

- Jean Russell

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Social Edge's Global X blogs us...

Today, December 20th, Social Edge, a website of the Skoll Foundation, began a 3-part story the result of a recent interview with me in California. Here goes...

Not too long ago, Global X met Theresa Williamson, a social entrepreneur who strongly believes in fate...
Read on: PART 1

Theresa Williamson launched
Catalytic Communities in 2000. She had noticed that many communities were very good at innovating at the local level, but they couldn’t share their innovations with other communities...
Read on: PART 2

Theresa Williamson, the social entrepreneur from Rio, was born in England from a British father and a Brazilian mother. She was raised in the U.S., and she describes herself as “a product of globalization.”...
Read on: PART 3

Friday, December 16, 2005

CatComm Announcement: Omidyar Network Community Award!

This week CatComm received word that the Omidyar Network has granted us a $10,000 community award in support of our Casa community networking hub and website's Community Solutions Database in 2006!

Here is our posting on the Omidyar Network's site...

Posted to:
Local Global group on the Omidyar Network site by Theresa Williamson, Fri, 16 Dec 2005

For the original post & responses, visit:

Hello All!

I am just thrilled right now to be writing with some wonderful news: I've received word from Susan Megy that Catalytic Communities has been chosen to receive a $10,000 community award from the Omidyar Network to support our Casa in Rio and the Community Solutions Database on our site at! Woo hoo!!!!

Now bare with me as I have many, many people to thank, all of whom have made this year for Catalytic Communities, and for me!

Thank you to Onetters Jean Russell, Michael Maranda, Norbert Mayer-Wittmann, Brandon Sanders, Rose Vines, Anne Marie Bellavance, Ted Ernst, Mark Grimes, David Bale, Julie Caldwell, Christina Jordan, Michael Herman, Sally Duros, Greg Murray, and Sue Braiden for being catalysts in this process!!! Thank you also to Lenore Cowen, John "Eyeclectic", and Antony Wachira for your support and interest in this work over the past months!!

Daniel Bassill, Tom Steinberg, Chris Macrae, Ellison Horne, Gabriel Grant, and Justin Bellew have shared your complementary efforts with me this year -- all of you are undertaking projects with fantastic opportunities for collaboration with CatComm's work, and I can't wait to explore these ties more thoroughly in 2006!

In addition to the Onet Community, there has been something ultraspecial about the reception CatComm has been given by the Omidyar Network staff. The three staff members I've met, Thomas Kriese, Susan Megy, and Dena Jones, have been encouraging in a way that I have seldom experienced elsewhere, and are helping to change my perception of what is possible as we slowly and carefully undertake this important work of changing the world, one community at a time...

I can't stop there, however!! 2005 has been a pivotal year in my life, having gone through immense changes in my internal and external, personal and professional life. As such, I find myself reflecting as the year comes to an end, and realizing what an immense role Onet has had in the transition I've experienced since mid-year, which not coincidentally was when (A) the most difficult period in my life began taking a turn towards recovery, and (B) I found myself in Chicago amidst an amazing, supportive group of people...

In these few short months on Onet I have found like-minded people, from all walks of life, ready to brainstorm and provide significant insights on just about any topic CatComm could hope for as we strengthen our work, several of which have taken CatComm on as their own, something I dreamt about before... I have found friends, a few of whom I know I will be close to for the rest of my life... I have realized the power of online communities in a way that, even with the work we are doing!, I had not dreamt of being possible before... and now this?! What an amazing way to complete 2005, with the vouch of support from the Onet Community that is this Award.

There is something so special about this network, I can't stop telling the world about it! And now to have this work recognized in this way, too! Wow, I couldn't feel more realized. Thank you, everyone.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

CatComm's 1st e-newsletter

Hello everyone!

We're thrilled to announce that today CatComm's first e-newsletter was sent to our mailing list of 3000+.

To check it out, or send a copy to a friend, simply click here.