Among the 20 co-working spaces you can find in Rio de Janeiro, Catete92 has an alternative structure based on self-management. Opened in 2012, it is named after its location in the neighbourhood of Catete.
The house is organised over 2 floors, offering a living room, open coworking spaces and individual desks spaces, a shared kitchen, craftwork ateliers and conference room. Whether it is to work, give a lecture, organise a lunch, have a meeting, make art, ask for advice, the motto is quite simple: « É só chegar ! » (« Just come in ! »)
The mood is both serious and relaxed at the same time. The reason? No one is in charge. Or everybody is. Catete92 is a self-managed space and organisation, where the use of space is not charged by a monthly payment as in the majority of the co-working spaces. Instead, members help maintain the space and funds are replenished with monthly crowfunding campaigns. The accounts of the house, including the costs of rent, bills, internet, cleaning service are available on the website for anyone to understand. At the entrance of the house is a jar with a post saying “give proportionally based on what the space has brought to you”.
According to Felipe Duarte, one of the initiators of the project, it works because people adapt and thus reproduce the system of the open house: conscious contribution, co-responsibility, organization and self-management. Everyone is equally “operator” and “costumer” which implies facilities and also responsibilities (quote taken from an interview here -In Portuguese). The main paradigm they relate on is Abundance : everyone is welcomed. People create and produce. By collaborating, they reduce the functioning costs. So even more people are willing to join, which enable them to create and produce even more..
An interesting article about the philosophy of the house can be read here (In Portuguese)
“We’ve looked at various management models, but denied all of them. We wanted something which favours and stimulates the spontaneous creative initiatives by lifting the obligations from people’s minds.” Says Joriam Philipe, one of the users of Catete92 and part of the founding network.
“Some examples of the activities we hosted: designers, tarot readers, holistic therapists, lawyers, creative entrepreneurs, vegan chefs, non-violent communication groups, language classes… This diversity of activities was undeniably linked to the fact that there was no official manager, per se, and no guideline so everybody felt free to come without restrictions.”
However, the casa has faced some difficulties. Located in an affluent residential area of Rio de Janeiro, the complaints from the neighbours about the noise and too many activities have forced the team to shut the building in August and look for another space. To Joriam, this had nothing to do with the absence of an official person in charge. In fact, “this self-management system never impeached to solve any other issue we might have had. Every person that was using the house and loving working there was ready to help. Not because they were obliged to, but because they cared. What was missing in the management system was maybe a lack of communication and too much naivety.”
What is going to happen next is still uncertain. “We have to ask ourselves what do we want and how to obtain it without a leader or an official organization status”. But when it comes to the future of the collaborative economy in Brazil, Joriam seems confident: “My company was born and raised in Catete92 and everyday we are re-using the work habits we developed in Catete92. We ask ourselves how to activate collective intelligence? There is a growing demand, will and attraction for this kind of world. It is no coincidence that many people that entered the Catete92 had these “wow” faces: it proves that this “free-management” system was really working, and appealing to other people.”
Every pictures were taken from the Catete92 website (In Portuguese)
Many thanks to Joriam Philipe for his answers & explanations