Monday June 18th 2012
The other day a young man from Rio told me “we are not very interested in this process... we are not sure how to get engaged”. This of course is the point of view of one Brazilian. But he did make a good point.
Today I got the opportunity to visit a favela in Rio with a community organization called in short CatCom. Catalytic Communities is a nonprofit organization based in Rio de Janeiro dedicated to destigmatizing Rio de Janeiro’s favela communities and integrating them into the wider society, generating global recognition of their heritage status through education, research, training, communications, technology, networks, participatory planning and advocacy.
Also in the group was a team from the Ecocity builder organization. Founded in 1992, Ecocity Builders develops and implements policy, design and educational tools and strategies to build thriving urban centers based on “access by proximity” and to reverse patterns of sprawl and excessive consumption.
First lets clear out what a favela is… a community that was constructed without permits or on occupied lands. Most of the favelas in Rio are constructed in hills on the outskirts of the city. Favelas are mostly originated by communities that move to a place to work and then need a place to live.
We meet at half day and after a few hours of getting a bus and traveling we finally got there. The community if called Asa Branca. A favela that is not as old as many big ones in Rio Asa Branca is quiet and has not had drug related problems. We may think of favelas as drug centers actually less than half of the favelas are the ones with drug trafficking issues.
Why is Asa Branca more important right now?
“Located one kilometer away from the future site of the 2016 Olympics, their community is now equipped with an underground sewerage system and houses which are raised to prevent flooding. This community successfully collects R$10 from residents to perform regular stream cleanings, and has even developed a specific type of machinery to better clean the stream that borders their community. Residents are also fully aware of the environmental and health hazards a dirty stream poses and are working independently to improve their community.” Text from http://www.catcomm.org
Asa Branca is in the middle of the many developments happening in Rio for the world Cup and for the Olympics. Rio is spending millions of dollars in infrastructure for these events and the communities that are surrounding are some being evicted, others getting “infrastructure” like sidewalks to look better. But just putting infrastructure “make up” to these communities is not enough to ensure that they have the resources they need. People in Asa Branca are a tight community that is creating their own houses and everything to live. ITs a lively community with kids playing people on the street.
So outside of Rio is Rio. The people the beach, the cars and all that complex and busy city has. Outside of Rio is the thousands of people living in favelas. Inside the negotiations they are still going thru specific paragraphs and text. So there are still pages and pages to go that will bring discussion. This is not bad as we think but we will have to look carefully at what comes out.
Photos by and property of: Adriana Gonzalez