One Year After the Games: The Vila Autódromo Story featured on NPR’s ‘Only a Game’

July 22, 2017—Yesterday, Catalytic Communities’ Executive Director Theresa Williamson had the opportunity to share the story of Vila Autódromo on NPR’s ‘Only a Game’, a segment airing today. In the piece, Williamson shares the story of the community’s resistance to evictions brought about by real estate speculation and the 2016 Olympic Games, and their newfound vocation as an ongoing site of inspiration for organizers. “Look what you’ve done. We’re not going away,” was their message as the Olympics came to an end.

Williamson tells the story of Heloisa Helena, an Afro-Brazilian Candomblé priestess who lived in Vila Autódromo next to the Lagoon, using her home as a religious site in support of others. Heloisa was severely mistreated by the authorities but has since become an activist herself.

Providing context on the impact of the Games on Rio, geographer Christopher Gaffney laments “I was pretty negative before, and it’s worse than I thought.”

Please don’t miss this sensitive piece we’re very proud to have supported. Listen here. And please share it widely. Help us build awareness about favelas’ history and the particular story of inspiration from Vila Autódromo, the community where, as successful hold-out Maria da Penha says, “not everyone has a price.”

If you’d like to learn about and be inspired by the full story of Vila Autódromo’s resistance to the Olympic Games, keep your eyes out for, or pre-order, the upcoming book Rio 2016: Olympic Myths and Hard Realities, edited by Andrew Zimbalist and out in September, which features a detailed chapter by Williamson entitled “Not Everyone Has a Price: How the Small Favela of Vila Autódromo’s Fight Opened a Path to Olympic Resistance.” And if you’d like to, you can even use Amazon Smile and select “Catalytic Communities” as your charity, so a small percentage of this or other purchases goes to CatComm.

To learn more about Heloisa Helena, read a recent interview we published with her discussing her current and future plans, and don’t miss her original letters mentioned in the NPR piece and published on RioOnWatch starting in 2015.