Brazilian ELP Network: scaling up achievements (Small Grants Initiative 2012)

by Angela Weber (ELP 2008) Edited by Robin Marsh

The main objective of the Brazilian ELP Network Project ("ELP Brazil") is to establish an ELP alumni network in Brazil, identifying collaborative opportunities among the group and developing a working agenda. To achieve this we proposed to start with a working reunion (workshop) of Brazilian ELPers and to construct a website that will contain our mission, values, objectives, expertise and highlight the areas and fields where we are working in Brazil. It started with the work of five of its members acting as a steering committee to organize the project. August 2012 Workshop On 18th and 19th of August 2012, in Santa Tereza, Rio de Janeiro the first ELP Brazil reunion took place with the presence of nine of its members: Adriana Paese ELP 2009, Angela Weber ELP 2008, Bruno Paes Castelo Branco ELP 2011, Camila Rodrigues ELP 2011, Henyo Trinidade Barreto Filho ELP 2006, Marcelo Gomes ArantesELP 2004, Marcio Augusto Ramos Halla ELP 2007, Maria Rita Manzano Borba ELP 2010, Tatiana Amaral Fukamati ELP 2011, in addition to ELP Co-Director Robin Marsh and Vag-Lan Borges, from University of Tocantins/BR (accepted applicant to ELP not never attended). The introductions were done in a welcome party on the first night. ELPers from different years could talk and introduce themselves in a very informal atmosphere. Soon realized that Brazilian ELPers constitute a very skilled and highly capable group that works on many complementary aspects throughout Brazil. The next morning we reviewed progress with "ELP Brazil" formation to date. The Brazilian ELPers number 23 participants, of whom we received 17 questionnaires with desired objectives, expertise and expectations for "ELP Brazil". The expectations are chiefly to establish a network of contacts that would allow an exchange of expertise, references, data, knowledge and a long-term collaborative relationship among the peers and their development and academic institutions throughout Brazil. All presented the importance of a strong leadership network using as a tool a "territorial map" of ELP professional work. ELP Brazil - Values, Expectations, Goals The workshop discussions preceded presenting the need for a long term networking process and about what could become a start up of an active Brazil ELP. Some principles and values were presented as guidelines: - a non-hierarchical structure; accountability; respect; comradeship, trust; entrepreneurship.
  A "brainstorming" of ideas produced these consensus conclusions: 1 - What guides the Brazil ELP: promote interactions among multiple sectors, broaden these connections and promote a community of learning and practice; potential for socio -environmental advocacy, share opportunities and knowledge regarding socio-environmental development. 2 - What we want: to construct a pilot ELP BRAZIL Project, create new young leadership opportunities, promote continuous knowledge among our peers, strengthen the institutions involved, keep an operational and up-to-date database on our website, and mobilize resources for the network. 3 - How we will do this: deepening our presence in our respective and mutual territories through the use of our expertise and institutions, identifying projects that can bring effective change, establishing partnerships with academic and development/NGO institutions, as well as searching for the resources needed in order to reach our objectives and goals. 4 - What we plan to achieve in a second stage: broaden our network towards an Americas (South and Central) ELP. Tasks, Responsibilities and Way Forward We developed a feasible plan forward and tasks were designated among those present, including the role of ELP Berkeley as discussed with Dr. Robin Marsh. The defined tasks are: elaborate a draft text about our mission, values and objectives; contract a web designer after the initial draft with inputs invited from all Brazilian ELPers; and define a pilot project. These tasks are almost all completed. Currently the website budget is the main concern. The draft was approved by consensus and the initial text named AGREEMENT STATEMENT presents our mission, values and objectives. A list-serve has been created for Brazil ELP - and communication is beginning to flow. The pilot project was submitted for a Hewlett Foundation Grant, and though well received, was not one of the two proposals funded. The proposal is to deliver a seminar and training on integrated territorial development and leadership capacity-building in a frontier sub-region of the Amazon Basin. It will be done in partnership with ICV Institute (four ELP alums are from ICV - Instituto Centro Vida) and was supposed to happen the first semester of 2013. Alternative funding will be sought. There have also been contacts with ELPers from Mexico and Central America. The purpose is to broaden the Brazil ELPer experience through a participatory process turning it into an Americas ELP.