Rafael Maretti claims there wasn’t a romantic “a-ha!” moment that prompted him to leave a career in Law to start an NGO. Nope. He says it was a rather rational decision, “an intellectual effort. I’ve always had an inquisitive mind. So, I decided to push myself mentally. A kind of self-provocation.” Well, ten years later, he’s still at it, and his Base Colaborativa (Collaborative Base), a São Paulo-based organization, has spread to nine other cities. As founder and head of the initiative, Maretti joined the Fellowship Program at Avenues São Paulo drawn, in part, by the international school’s renowned educational reach. It made sense, since his NGOs actions extend through many fields, being education one of their major axes, as he calls them. “We offer courses with content we consider important to create a more conscious society, like non-violent communication, Theory U, socioemotional education for children, while at the same time we’re a kind of community/hub, which first began as a think tank”, he more-or-less tries to summarize.
But it’s more than that, in reality. Their headquarters was a meeting (and breeding) ground for innovation before social isolation measures were imposed, and their actions also comprise project development, entrepreneurial support in low-income communities, and local projects in the Amazon. “I guess it’s a place and a name that people associate with social innovation, be it in more practical terms or philosophical ones”, he adds. Joining the Fellowship Program came, thus, as an opportunity which he embraced as a new avenue to be explored (no pun intended). To join a curated group of like-minded fellows and experiment with new solutions to challenges he still faces was “a breath of fresh air, a chance to step out and look back into the organization as an outsider”, something he finds positively nourishing in spaces such as these. Some of his fellows at the program came to join his courses at the Base, others he bumped into at other third sector gatherings, and overall their relationship either grew in mutual trust or deepened, becoming more long-term, or both. Say no more, Maretti, say no more.