Georgia Nicolau, Co-founder & Co-director of the Procomum Institute

 

Georgia Nicolau is a Brazilian activist, and a researcher in the fields of culture, arts, politics, and citizen innovation. She is the co-founder, and co-director of the Procomum Institute, an organization based on the concept of the common. Procomum offers workshops and lectures, and promotes discussions on themes related to the common, such as alternative economies, cultural network production, free culture, and technology.

Between 2013 and 2016, Georgia was the Director of Management, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation, at the Brazilian National Ministry of Culture, and Deputy Secretary of Creative Economy and Cultural Policies. Georgia was one of the articulators of House of Digital Culture, where she coordinated the research and interviews of the multimedia project Cultural Production in Brazil.

In 2013, as a fellow of the Alexander Rave Foundation, Georgia was part of the Innovation Team at the largest art and technology festival in Germany, the transmediale. Since 2013, she is part of the Global Innovation Gathering network, bringing together innovators, and entrepreneurs from around the world with a focus on the global South. In 2017, Georgia was selected as a global cultural leader by the European Union.

Meg: How do you define culture?

Georgia: For me, culture is everything we produce, and everything that makes us exist beyond our biological body. Everything that we believe, all our ideas, our spirituality, the things we eat, the way we talk, our language, the way we move, the way you move your hand while you’re talking, and the way countries organize themselves. For me, everything is cultural. I have a really broad vision of culture.

Meg: Could you share why you feel culture matters?

Georgia: For me, culture is the essence of humanity in the sense this is what makes us humans at first place. Culture is what gives us names, and it’s what unites us. Not valuing culture is what leads us to some tragic moments, including some of the ones we are living now.

I’ll give you an example, a really objective one. One of the first symbolic actions of the current Brazilian president was to extinguish the Ministry of Culture of Brazil, and I think this is very symbolic. Culture makes us have empathy for each other, makes us view things together, makes us use our creativity, and our ideas to be able to change, and transform.

And for me, if we don’t take this into account, then it’s barbarianism; it’s the portent of death. Culture is life itself, and for me it’s essential. I don’t see how can someone not see why culture matters? Even the ones that say that culture doesn’t matter, they know it matters. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be so scared of it.

Meg: Culture in a lot of ways is power, and I’m shocked to hear what you just said, that there’s no longer a Ministry for Culture in Brazil. I share your despair at that. I think of culture as how we identify, and how we individuate, and how we express both of those things. I feel it’s absolutely essential.

I want to begin talking a little bit about Procomum, which I know is based on a concept of the ‘Common’. Can you describe what the ‘Common’ is, and give a little history of the concept, its use around the world?

Georgia: The concept we use in Procomum is that Commons is everything that is not either public or private. Modernity made us think that there’s only two ways of dealing with things, either public or private, or either the state, or the market.

In fact, there is a long history of self-managed resources, of communities that were using lands and natural resources as a common piece of land. So, the word “commons” comes from the feudal lands, like in England, for example, where communal lands where we all took our animals, and we shared that land. At some point, that finished when someone came, and put a fence around it.

The concept of the Common asks us to reflect on what is property, and who says what is property, who owns what, and why do we have to own it? Why can’t we use it, instead of owning it? For me, the Commons inspired a lot of good reflection, and made me unlearn a lot of things that I took for granted in terms of politics and culture.

The Commons is everything that is common to all of us, so that includes natural resources like the water, the air, the land, but also includes intangible resources, so our language, art, culture we create, the ideas we have. And the first time I got in touch with the concept was actually connected to the Internet. So, Creative Commons.

So, a bunch of lawyers created the Creative Commons to oppose themselves to copyrights. So, it was a revolution in the sense of, “Okay, I can create something, and I can share it with different levels of what does it mean ‘property’? What does it mean ‘mine?” And then, I can create my art, and put it in the Internet, and you can share it with noncommercial values, for example.

And that was really revolutionary for the ones that were believing in free culture, free access of knowledge, which is really, also, where I come from. Part of my [history 09:59] is connected to free access of knowledge, so knowledge is for everybody. We shouldn’t privatize knowledge. So, this is the first time I got in touch with the common.

And then, why we chose the concept is also connected to the times we’re living. If you look at Latin America, I think, of course, really we could look at the world, but I will take my country as an example, as the state and the market are super-connected, so how can we create the solutions among ourselves for the future?

Because to think of short-term is desperate, but if we think about medium- and long-term, we are – we have creativity enough, and we create solutions every day. So, how can we create our common – our commons, and protect them, and create solutions, including governance – governance solutions? So, a lot of the concept is connected to people that were studying governance.

So, one really important person in the commons concept is actually American, a US woman. Her name is Elinor Ostrom. So, she was – she actually – she was a political scientist. She – actually in 2009, she won the Economy Nobel, similar to the Nobel with the work that was actually dealing with the systematization of different models of common goods management governance.

So, she actually went through the word, and systematized a lot of examples of places, and natural resources that have been managed by – self-managed by communities, and she actually showed that they were more efficient than either privatized than our state then.

Meg: Interesting.

Georgia: Yeah. So, that – she actually is a pioneer in promoting this kind of research, multidisciplinary research, so you have political scientists, lawyers, architects. So, a lot of different people studying this new institutionalism from a self-organization corporation, and she actually came to a really interesting systematization of eight design principles to govern in the commons.

So, she got some things that were common to a lot of the people, then, in communities who were studying, and she systematized them. It was really interesting to read, and she founded the International Association for the Study of the Commons, which is active now until these days, which is really interesting. The next meeting will be in Peru in Lima in July. We will be there. The last one was in Utrecht in Netherlands in 2017. We were also there.

And it’s amazing to see the quantity of people there who are studying, or practicing the commons throughout the world, and that includes community gardens; that includes lawyers that are working inside Bologna [Inaudible 13:27] in Italy to come up to new laws of spaces that are not private – totally private – or not totally from the state, so different models of governance with the coproduction of politics.

This includes people that are studying fisher villages, or for example, places that are environmentally protected, and how the indigenous people protect them, even better if they were just from – belonging to the state. So, you have all different – you have urban commons, so squares that were abandoned, then suddenly a neighborhood took care of it, and among the – and the community shared their resources, and actually turned a square that was first [empty 14:22] to a super conviviality space, where people go, and be together.

So, you have a lot of different approaches to it, and the way we work in the Procomum, is that we also think that beyond the fact that it’s a political view of things, it’s also a governance model, but it’s also a cultural – a cultural transformation, because it’s a result of a process based on fraternity, meaning [inaudible 14:59] for the life of joy, and imagination.

And it’s also a collective effort of humans and their creations to co-inhabit the earth, among nature. So, not separate to it. So, we really – from our perspective – from the South perspective, we take into account a lot the concept of [bem viver 15:21] – [buen vivir 15:22] in Espagnol – in Spanish – or [bem viver 15:24] in Portuguese, or in English would be “a good living.”

And a good living is something that – it’s not a good living in terms of having your own apartment, your own car, or your own house, or – it’s a good living in the sense of you live with plentitude; you live – you respect nature, and you respect – and you live in communion with your peers, and you have freedom to create. It’s a socioecological system, let’s say. So – and this is a bit – also reflects, also, our core values at the organization.

Meg: Well, I have to say you have just said so much, and to step back a little bit in terms of the American economist who kind of pioneers this movement, I have to say I find it so heartening that someone has been able to identify eight philosophies that have been successful in terms of people sharing, and having mutual responsibility for their resources, and a way of life.

And I think today, with the divisiveness that’s taking place around the world, to have such work being done, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’m not more familiar with it than I am, and that I haven’t heard more about it, but I think it’s – it’s certainly very – very much an approach that much of the world hungers for.

And I’m thinking of something that I’m familiar with in Scotland, which maybe is somewhat in the spirit of what you’re talking about that they have a – an approach; it may even be a legal construct called the “Right to Roam,” so that people are free to cross anyone’s land as part of their journey. And of course, here in the United States, so many people are concerned about their private property, and trespassing.

And the concept behind the Right to Roam is that you trust each other, and you’re allowing someone to make their way to where they’re going by crossing your property. Can you share an overview of Procomum, and when it was founded, and what its mission is?

Georgia: Yeah. Just one quick comment first of what you were saying. I think it’s really interesting, then, to say that it’s because you trust people, because for me, it’s a matter of premise. So, whenever people tell me, “Oh, but humans are bad by nature,” I say, “Yeah, but this is also an ideology. This is not to be taken for granted. This is also someone taught you that, and this is also a way of looking at us as humans.”

So, it’s really interesting, also, because the commons, and all the studies behind it, and all the practice behind it, it’s also a calling our attention to — who told us that we are mean, and we should be competing? Okay. Of course, you have – you always have rogue researchers, but you also have researchers that are saying not, that we are actually comparative people.

So, I think this is really interesting, actually, because in the end it’s also a political dispute of ideology of where are we going, and why – how these ideas have been used over the years to build control, and to build economical systems that are super-oppressive. So, just a quick comment. So, Procomum?

Meg: Yeah.

Georgia: Sorry, sorry, sorry, yeah.

Meg: Well, I would also say it’s not just a sociological, or political point of view, it’s a spiritual point of view. You tend to find to what you’re looking for, and if you’re choosing trust versus choosing suspicion, that’s a way of life.

Georgia: Exactly, exactly, yeah. Totally; I totally agree with you. And that is – it’s really mind-blowing in the sense that we – because it’s also our choice in the end. And how can we help ourselves – among ourselves to remind us, like why – why are we here, and actually how can you be responsive and responsible in terms of if you want people to believe in the human – in humans, and trust people, then you should be trustworthy, also.

And that makes you be – want to be even more better to the world. I don’t know, for me at least it works like this. I want to be someone that – that is actually doing what she’s saying, that is actually coherent with my actions, and looking at these as a friend, just like looking at life as someone who has things to learn, and not knowing all the answers. So, yeah, for me it changes perspective of how I – I am in the world.

And I think it’s also connected to Procomum, because – so, this is connected to our trajectory, so I have a cofounder. His name is Rodrigo. He – we have a different, but similar trajectories. We are both journalists from graduation, and we – we both worked in different collectives, so civil society initiatives, but also public policy. So, I was part of the government at a federal level. He was also part of an agency of the government, but he was also part of municipality. He worked for the city council in Sao Paulo.

But we also worked for private companies for a while, so wrote – we used to be reporters, also, in big journalism companies. So, we have a – but we have like a trajectory that is always being working between communication, politics, arts and culture, and technology, and of course, politics. And then, in 2015 he left his role at the city council, and then he started this – we started talking a lot about, okay, the challenges that we’re facing now, need new kinds of institutions.

So, the institutions, the civil society institutions, the NGOs are not being able to carry on the challenges, and neither is being the government anymore, and the state. So, what’s been going on in the world, what can we bring it on, and from our experience what we don’t want to repeat.

And then, in 2016, I left the government just one month before the [President Dilma 22:31], actually – we had a coup in Brazil, and then the vice president – they impeached the [President Dilma 22:38], and then the vice president became president, and that was the beginning of a lot of processes that actually led us to having Bolsonaro, an extreme far right-wing president nowadays, and then I left the government, and then me and Rodrigo, we said, “Okay, let’s start something together.”

And then, already with the idea of the commons, so we don’t want to be a state arm, but we also don’t want to be totally the market. So, what’s in between? What’s the – what’s there left for us to do, and how can we invent a new future? So, since the beginning, we had this value of experimentation. So, okay, our premise is that we need new institutional models. How can we do something that is different? Of course, always value who came before. We don’t want to reinvent the wheels or reinvent story.

But let’s – let’s exercise our imagination; let’s not lose our power of creativity, imagination, and let’s not stop believing that it’s possible to change, and create better futures for us, and for civil society. And then, thinking about what’s the role of [civil 24:02] society nowadays? So, we have some main values. One of them is collaboration, of course, is at the core of the things we do.

So, including that the way of governance, of the organization, our processes, how do we [strengthen 24:22] people and projects, so in a way that they cooperate with – among each other forming a network – network to communities. So – and why network a community? So, I think this is really important, because I believe communities are really important, but they are super, also, oppressive, and now sometimes could be super-self-referent.

So, like let – for example, families, super – they are super-interesting; they take care of us, but also can be super-oppressive, because it’s a community. Everybody is, “Oh, you have your own place there. You cannot change.” And networks are more loose and bring new [heirs 25:05]. So, we really believe in this – this meeting among different people, so network at communities, a lot of communities relating to each other, so you keep the move; you keep the dynamics. We believe a lot – right? – in free knowledge. Sorry.

Meg: No. I’m thinking whether it’s a community, or whether it’s a family, it’s a closed system, and so, I appreciate what you’re saying about the idea of a network. There’s a flow of new information, and shared information, and closed systems, things can get out of whack.

Georgia: Exactly, yeah. So, all of these that I’m saying, I’m talking about values, that they are super-more, not that tangible. But we – so, have also free knowledge, diversity of gender and race, [inaudible 25:56] innovation, and care. So, care is a really big part of us, caring for – for ourselves. So, self-care, caring for each other, caring for the space, caring for the earth.

And then, we have a space. We have a lab, a citizen innovation lab, which is actually a physical space of 1,500 square meters, where we experiment all of these on a daily basis with different communities. So, we have a permaculture lab; we have a hackerspace; we have artistic residency; we have different projects going on; we have a music working group; we have an audiovisual working group.

So, we have different working groups, people that are going there developing projects on a long-term basis, engaging other people. And this is also where we experiment a lot of these values, and actually inhabit the values that we bring with the conflicts that it comes from. So, we say our mission is to promote the encounter between the different, and this is really hard work, and sometimes you want to give up, because it’s really hard.

But this is also where most of our serendipity, emotional moments come from, when you actually see people that you would never have thought that would collaborate, or cooperate doing things together, and changing their lives, and changing their territories, and this is super-powerful, and this is something that is not easily destroyable, because it’s human connection, and ideas taking shape, and actually taking the world in the form of projects, in the form of products, in the form of new ideas. So –

Meg: That’s fantastic. So, can you give an example of two conflicting groups, who you bring together, and how the process works, and what one of those moments of connection might have been?

Georgia: Well, I have a lot of examples. There’s one that I like to tell is that we had a resident artist last year. She was a performer from Brazil. She was a black woman, and a lot of her work is about being a black woman. It’s about racism. It’s about sexism. It’s about misogyny, and it’s about amelioration and oppression, but it’s also about freedom. It’s about owning your own body. It’s about speaking about things, and not having fear anymore.

So, it’s really a strong, but also super-political work, and she was a resident in our space, and at some point, she started to go to the meetings of the hackerspace with actually a group of white, male, heterosexual dudes – geeks – that are working in – like throughout the night until morning in little things – microprocessors, and Arduinos, and numbers, and things that you don’t even understand.

And then, she began to go to their meetings, and she actually loved them. They loved her, and they began to actually collaborate in part of her – the body for her, the clothes for her performance. So, they made a crown that – with the lights, and she was actually – they actually taught her to do it, and it was super – like, super-interesting to see how she related to them at some point, and you would have never thought, okay, she does what this group of people will never be in the same space together, for example.

Or for example, one of our other residents was a guy from Malaysia – Australia and Malaysia, [Sumugun 30:13]. He didn’t know how to speak Portuguese, and then, he was a resident there. He was cooking lunch. He had like a work, where they teach you permaculture, and then he went to visit our partners from indigenous territory, and he went to speak with the [Inaudible 30:31] people with [Inaudible 30:34], and the guy didn’t speak Portuguese, either, and they actually had a conversation. And we don’t know, actually, what came out of it in terms of how they understood, but the fact is they understood each other, and it was a very strong moment, also, of connection. And of understanding things through food, and through culture, and not so much about being rational, or literal about things.

Meg: Right. And do you think these moments, or experiences occurred simply because there was a shared space?

Georgia: I think that something is really important, which is the shared space, of course, but it’s also – I really think our work of mediation is important. We were not only a free space, but we’re also trying to connect people, and trying to bring together with the people that are there to comfort those – the protocols that makes us leave and create better together. So, I think –

Meg: You’re setting the atmosphere?

Georgia: Exactly. Together with the people, but I really believe in the mediation work. I think mediation is a really important work in the days. In France, they have these cultural mediators. And don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in patronizing, but I don’t think mediation means patronizing at all. But I really believe in the work of facilitation. I think people that facilitate, mediate are building bridges that sometimes it’s an invisible work, but it’s super-important, also.

Meg: Right. And do you see that as a field that has the potential to grow? It seems to me there could be a lot more of it being done.

Georgia: In terms of mediation?

Meg: Yes.

Georgia: Totally. Totally. I mean, I think a lot of – and then you can give a lot of examples of how, sometimes, people cannot engage in conversations, but when you have someone facilitating the conversation, they actually get to a lot of results together. And I have really a lot of practical examples of a difference between a meeting that is not facilitated, and a meeting that is facilitated.

And how – what achievements you get when you have a different group of people, and someone is actually losing their time, and energy in creating an agenda, in creating a methodology, and systematization, documenting, promoting the safe space, promoting the atmosphere, and that includes – including food.

Someone that is looking at the good food that is going to be served, when the food is going to be served, if there’s enough water, if people want tea, if there’s enough time for – for people to relax, if the space is a place where people are relaxed. All of these change the energy, and also, all of these influence and differentiates in how people relate to each other, also.

Meg: Well, that is kind of a great segue into my next question, which is – and you’ve touched on this that one of the themes that Procomum focuses on is care, and self-care, which I think is so critical today. Can you talk a little bit about your work in this realm?

Georgia: Yeah. We realize that it is really, really a big part of work, because there’s a lot of reasons for that. One of them is we are situated in – well, we live in Brazil, which is a really [unequal 34:30] country, so you have extreme poverty, and extreme richness. And we are situated in a really vulnerable territory, a lot of people where we live, extremely racist country, so you have a lot of people there with a lot pain, with a lot of oppression, and a lot of abuse.

And the people we work with, because of the choices we make, who are working with the diversity of gender and race, have a lot of wounds; there are a lot of sadness, also, a lot of – of course, a lot of potential of creativity, and everything. But the main – the theme about care, and self-care is really important. You cannot just do some kind of work without thinking, “Okay, how are we feeling?”

So, feelings are really important, and how we relate to them is critical to the things we do. And the other thing is, also, self-care in the sense of how can I take care of people, or [a place 35:27] if I’m not taking care of myself? And then, and we see these a lot in activists. So, a lot of activists are taking care of everybody, and going working 15 hours a day, and then they are burning out, and they give up. And we cannot afford to lose people.

We have to be together, and we have to take care of ourselves, and we have to put our limits; we have to – we have really physical, and emotional limits that we have to take into account. And then the other –

Meg: Right. There’s an expression –

Georgia: Sorry.

Meg: – “You can’t give away what you don’t have.”

Georgia: Exactly. Then you’re not helping anybody. And then, you have another level of it, which is the feminist perspective of care, also, and reproductive work. So, when you see who is taking care of the house, or the kids in order to – a guy go out to work, usually it is a woman, and in Brazil it’s usually a black woman who is taking care of someone else’s children, so the white woman can go to work.

So, also, the reproductive work, so taking care of the children, taking care of the space, this is an invisible work that takes time, and it carries within it really a story of oppression, because if you look at the – so, I like a lot Silvia Federici, and she wrote – she’s a feminist, Italian, but she lives here in the United States. So, she’s [a sociologist 36:58], and she – she wrote a book, really interesting, The Caliban and the Witch, and she retells the story of[ capitalism] with the feminist perspective, and she’s – basically she says, “Okay. So, when the – when the guys were out there working in the fabrics for the period of accumulation of capital, who was taking care of the children? Who was having – who was making the food in order for them to go to work?”

So, actually, if you touch the woman, you touch the rock. If you take out of women our reproductive work, and the care work, then someone is going to have to make this happen, because otherwise we won’t have the future generation of CEOs. And this is really revolutionary when you understand. So, I think care for us has different levels, and how did – how did we translate this into our work?

So, one of the things we have is a project. We have a lab – lab care, so it’s actually a space of the lab, where you can go when you have a lot of access of different therapies. You have dance; you have acupuncture; you have herbs, and massage, and so, you have different volunteers, and people developing different projects related to care, and self-care in that space. So, this is the care lab.

But we also talk a lot in the space of – if you’re going to do an activity, make sure you have food; make sure people – and make sure you reserve time to actually, take care of the space, and clean everything, and if you’re not doing that, someone is doing that for you. So, really making it visible.

Meg: Yes. Well, it’s very holistic, really, which in so many sectors, the element of being human is kind of overlooked. Now, Georgia, you’ve been described as an activist, and a researcher in the fields of culture, arts, politics, and citizen innovation. What do you see as the three biggest areas of opportunity for citizen innovation within the realm of culture, now?

Georgia: Well, I think – when we talk about citizen innovation, the way I understand it is really symbolized, like, since sheep, so people, they’re engaged into their communities, territories, may it be really local, or trans-local, or local, really wanting to make a change. And I choose to use the word “change,” and not “impact,” because sometimes impact is really connected to the startup movement, which I’m not against, but I just think that capitalism in itself has got to a limit.

So, I’m not sure that if we only talk about impact within capitalism, that we’re going to do like big changes. But this is something that is going to – is a bigger discussion, but – so, civic innovation is a lot of – of people are already doing that without even giving their name. So, I really think that a lot of cultural agents are actually civic innovators. So, when you’re doing, like, this local project of a library, with your community, you are actually making civic innovation.

So, we have – I have a really broad view of it, and I think it’s really interesting that, like I know some cultural agents that when they got in touch with the concept of civic innovation, they started calling themselves as civic innovators, or social innovators, and that also opened up opportunities to them to work with different organizations, rather than just the cultural sector with the same funders, for example, or with the same international foundations, for example.

So, you have other organizations, other foundations, other NGOs, or even other networks that are working with their broader sense of what it means to innovate in civil society, and culture is a key – plays a key role in all of them.

Meg: Right. Well, it’s interesting what you just said in terms of it’s funny how what you call yourself, or how you define yourself. If you change that, you can change so much. And it sounds a little bit like that’s what you’ve described – that people are beginning to see themselves as not just cultural agents but change agents.

Georgia: Exactly, exactly. And yeah, definitely.

Meg: Now, to kind of go backwards for a minute, you’ve touched on this, but I’d love to just – and I know things have changed, and I’m curious about that, between 2013 and 2016, you were the Director of Management, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation at the Brazilian National Ministry of Culture, and Undersecretary of Creative Economy and Cultural Policies.

I’m so sad to hear that the designation, or that function has been taken away, and my question originally was going to be, like, “Could you describe what you did in those roles,” which I’d still be interested in, but maybe a bigger question is what it means that these responsibilities are no long being give the – maybe the respect that they once were?

Georgia: I think the years of the workers’ party were at the government. To be honest, more Lula than [Duma 42:52], culture played a really big role in shaping the politics, shaping the image of Brazil outside, also – but also, inside, and shaping social cohesion. And for that reason, the public policies of culture were something that really flourished in the years 2000 in Brazil. And we actually got a lot of prizes, everybody would say, “Oh, look at Brazil, how they are a novelty in their public policies for culture.”

So, I’m really – I’m really – I’m really – this is also part of my history. So, we had a really interesting vision of this internalization of public policies, and how do you, instead of creating top-down policies, how do we actually first understand it, different territories, and the different communities, and actually strengthen what’s already there, and creating ecosystems, and network policies?

And that’s something that we are – we tried to exercise, also, in the realm of creative economy, or the cultural economy, instead of creating this big, massive project, also, because we didn’t have that much budget, but also, understanding the different ecosystems in different states, because Brazil is huge, and we have 27 states, and they’re super-different than with each other, different realities, etc.

And there was a lot of emotion – it was really – it was super – a lot of adventures, let’s say, of a lot of limits, also, of the public bureaucracy, but also you meet really, really committed people along the way.

Meg: Since 2013, you have been part of the Global Innovation Gathering Network, bringing together innovators, and entrepreneurs from around the world. Could you describe the network, and how people could get involved, if they – if they were inclined to?

Georgia: Yeah. So, the Global Innovation Gathering was – is a network that was founded in 2013 in Berlin in Germany. And Oh, it’s really a lot of – a bunch of people interesting, and lovely people, and passionate people from around the world, with a big – with a big focus on the global South, so a lot of people from African countries, Asian countries, and Latin America, but also some from Europe.

And they have shared values for open collaboration, and curiosity, and social innovation, and a lot of them work with technology, so there’s a strong focus on technology, but usually inclusive technology opens attainability, and it’s really a global community. We meet, at least, once a year. We used to meet once a year since the beginning in Germany in the same event that we were born, which is Republica in Berlin, which is this event of technology and society that happens in Berlin for 11 or 12 years, now.

And we were proud of it, and then we grew out of it to actually be since 2017, if I’m not wrong, we are now an NGO that is registered in Germany. And we are open for associates. People can connect just through a Facebook page, Global Innovation Gathering, our website, globalinnovationgathering.org. We also have Instagram, which is also – which we are Geek – Geek from Global Innovation Gathering.

And for me, it was really, really, really life-changing in the sense that I have friends everywhere, and the way we connect, and even sometimes we don’t see each other so much, or don’t talk so much, but really when you need it, when you need to partner for a project, when you need some – some solution, or a lot of – a lot of them have labs, some of them more technological labs, like maker spaces, so much more technological than my project, for example.

But this is also the – some are more oriented in working with kids; some are more oriented in working with conflicted areas, so a lot of people are working with refugee camps. But it’s really a bunch of really, really committed people in their own realities, and for me, I have friends that I really, really love, and that changed my life, that you – you know when you really experiment how can actually love transcend borders, even if you never – and beyond that, we actually work together.

So, a lot of [projects 47:37] just came out of it. When I first founded Procomum, I made an international event, and I called some of them to bring – to come to my event, so they contributed to it, and we – we have different projects, they also came out of this network.

Meg: That’s awesome. If everything you’re describing is a calling, how important to be able to connect with like-minded people, and give each other support, and share ideas, and work together. So, I’m going to look more into that.

Georgia: All right.

Meg: That sounds really cool. Your Twitter page features a quote that says, “Everything is a remix,” which I was intrigued by, and what does that mean to you?

Georgia: Well, this is – this is a really famous kind of quote from the open and free-culture movement, so [hawkers], [working with police officers 48:36], or people that are into free sharing of knowledge, and it’s – I think it’s really, really intriguing, because all of our thoughts, and sometimes the discussion about copyrights, and patients is also about, “Oh, this is my idea.” And I don’t believe in that.

There’s no “mine” idea. Of course, you create it, or you have the idea now, but you – you created based on some repertoire that was made before you. So, if I’m – everything that I – everything is a remix. Nothing is new in the sense of totally new. You are always getting something from – even if you’re not consciously doing that, you’re getting out of everything you do, your conversations, you’re looking at their streets; you’re getting inputs in your mind, and your brain is getting inputs. So, everything is a remix. And I really believe in that. And you even have people that are making research about it.

Meg: Georgia, why do you do what you do? Was there a pivotal event that inspired your focus on culture, and particularly on an open culture?

Georgia: Yes. It was just before – just through to be – because I forgot to say that everything is a remix is also a series of videos that you can look in the Internet, and You Tube. That is related to free-culture, so it’s really interesting to – it’s just about creativity or originality and copyrights. It’s also something that is worth looking at it, also.

I didn’t plan a lot of things that happened in my life. Of course, I have to say that I wouldn’t be honest if I were – if I didn’t say that being who I am in Brazil is not – is being someone who is privileged enough to be born in a white family, which means I’m not the base of society, which is the Afro-Brazilians, and I had access to private schools. I speak English, which is 3 percent of the population. I traveled the world, since I’m a teenager, and I went to university.

So, which makes me probably already, if you take everything into account, I’m a daughter of a doctor, and a psychoanalyst, so my – both parents went to school, and university. I’m also, an immigrant. I’m a third generation of Lebanese, so it’s not that there were – so, it was a family that – my family came from Lebanon three generations ago, and then it all happened, but I’m privileged, and that means a lot in a country like mine.

So, if I’m not saying that, and it just seems that, oh, everything is just happened in my life. It happened, also, because I had access to a lot of thing, a lot of people don’t have access to, but it’s also because I chose, since I was young to work with culture, arts, and social transformation. And it was – it was something that always came with me. My parents – my mom is more like this, but my dad is definitely not like this. My brother is not like this. And a lot of my family are totally different from me.

And then, for when I just began, and then once you begin, there is no way back, because the people you meet, and loves, and the passion, then there’s no way back. You know? And when you see you’re already there, and then you didn’t even understand why you’re there anymore.

Meg: Yes. That’s so true, isn’t it? That’s a really candid answer, and I think it does seem to take on a life of its own. If you’re – you have a calling to connect with people in some fashion, and to aspire to be your best, and help other peoples be their best, it just kind of takes over.

Now, my last question to you, Georgia, is “Best Cultural Destinations” tagline is “People Are Culture. Connecting is the Destination.” And it’s very clear that your work is also about connection. In closing, could you share some thoughts with listeners about what connection means to you, and how to go about achieving it?

Georgia: Well, I think for me, connect – well, by the way, a really, really good tagline, I totally agree, and I think for me if when I look at my life, and usually these moments like that we’re having now, it makes me a little – going back and forth, and I think connection is my – is the essence of my life. Is the one thing that if you take me – so, what would you choose, if you could describe yourself?

So, I’m a people that – I’m someone who likes to be connected, to connect, and to promote connections, definitely, since I was a little kid, and that’s not – that’s also the reason why I went to study journalism, because I could make questions to people, and I could connect with them, but also put them in connection with other people.

So, I think that connection is what makes – actually, I’m going to talk about me, so I think connection is what makes me feel alive. And what makes me feel that every day is a new day, because now I met you, and by meeting you, I have different things, and questions that I’m making.

So, connections for me open new questions, and having new and good questions is what keeps us alive, because what keeps us going with looking for more knowledge and feelings, and new experiences, and creating beautiful things together, and the connections I make, they’ve led me through my most amazing experiences of happiness, and love.

And we just – in Procomum, we have – one of the things we do is that every month we meet to study together, so we always – we read texts together; we call it “Circle of the Commons,” because we believe a lot in practicing, but also reflecting, and investigating theory. And we read a text this week of Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, wealth – English, I think.

He’s like the wealth – something like this, and the last chapter of the book, they speak about happiness, and love as a political, and collective project, and I super-believe in that, because we tend to believe – we were taught that love, and happiness is an individual project. It’s not. You can have your love, and your happiness. It’s also what makes us connect and wanting to create transformation.

And I think connection is at the core of it, and I’m – like you, I’m a believer. As long as we have connection, then people like Bolsonaro, they’ll have their time, but they’re going to have to leave at some point.

Meg: That’s right. That’s right. Well, I think connection is just so invigorating, and it’s what keeps us going, whether times are good, or times are bad. That was a beautiful description. And I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity to connect with you.

Georgia: Yeah. Me, too, Meg.