Ashoka is hosting a competition to inspire ideas around the problem of “dead capital” in the developing world. Dead capital is land inhabited by slum dwellers that has not been formalized through the legal title process (and worth $9.3 trillion!). This may not sound that serious, but imagine if you had no power to sell the land you live on, leverage it as security, or invest in improvements for fear it would be taken away from you at any time.
I am working on an inter-disciplinary media project called “The Center for Live Capital” in partnership with a phenomenal 10 year old organization in Rio called Catalytic Communities (CatComm). The Center for Live Capital seeks to build a platform to document case studies of property formalization all around the world. The platform will use google maps to track infrastructure / services, the formalization process, and local media capture (filmed and uploaded by locals via cameras + mobile phones). Essentially, we will be curating multi-media to form visual narratives and storytelling around the problem of dead capital. By collecting information and communicating stories of the problem, we hope to give local activists the tools they need to press for procedural reform to make it easier to register, transfer and own property.
The organization in Rio (CatComm) is our pilot project. We have helped them create a submission for the Ashoka Changemakers competition to win $50,000 for the Film4Rio project. Rio favela communities face mass forced evictions (already!) as the 2015 Olympics approach. CatComm trains favela residents to use video, social media and storytelling to capture land conflicts. They also document how developments in infrastructure often stabilize property rights, as communities with greater investment are less likely to be removed. In Rio, the public defenders then use the media to defend communities against forced eviction.