Cases and News

Brazil is praised in International Transition Conference

Isabela Menezes

Between the 9th and 11th of July, the International Conference on Transition Towns, happened in Liverpool- England, and Brazil was considered a great success.

Monica Picavea, Isabela Gomes de Menezes and May East represented Brazil. The presentation showed how training for Transition in Brazil intensified the appearance of new initiatives in cities.

More than 800 people have been trained, and they now develop transition programs in more than 14 cities and neighborhoods. Granja Viana and Brasilândia were the two cases presented and enjoyed a huge success.

Granja Viana, because it is a middle to high income neighborhood which is rapidly advancing in Transition; and Brasilândia because it is an area of ​​very low income, with major issues and where systemic projects and practical, interesting and highly praised approaches are being put in place.

These include community gardens linked to food security projects; local arts and culture projects including one to  preserve Brasilândia’s history; water conservation projects; a swap meet, among others, and of course Gaia Education courses.

See what was said on the blog of one of the participants:

“Rob said that over the last four years people would ask what Transition would be like in the developing world and he’d respond, “I have no idea!” He hoped that they would sort it out for themselves, and has been very impressed with the work that Transition is doing in Brazil. Rob was strongly suggesting that the people in each initiative have to figure out what works for them. He mentioned one London Transition group coming to ask how Transition would work in their economically-challenged area and again received the reply, “I don’t have any idea, go sort it out for yourselves.” 

Now the group has done amazing things. We agreed that to have several people in the group who participated in the Transition training was useful, but its main point is that each location has its own challenges, culture, and environment, and that there is a model that “fits all.”

This dynamism is what attracts me and the transition is what I saw in my travels. (Actually, the staff of Barcelona gave a lecture on the Spanish revolution and how the transition is working on the streets there.)

Rob concluded, “there is a quote in the new book Transition (Transition Companion, available this fall), which is outside the liner notes of Velvet Underground 1969 live album,” I wanted it to be a hundred years from now, I do not stand the suspense.

‘The beauty of Transition is that you see the successes that unfold and you get to taste her. In Totnes, in the five years since we started, now I can walk down the street and see 200 chestnut trees we plant.

We had our first harvest of almond trees in the park, there is no food being increasingly where there was none before, there are 150 solar systems that were not there before …. It gives you a taste of what is possible and takes you to the next bit. “

Monday, day 3

On the last day of the conference, after hearing Rob take what was happening in Brazil, I chose to attend a workshop given by three Brazilian women. One of the women, May East, currently lives in Findhorn community in Scotland. The other two women were Isabella de Menezes and Monica Picavea.

It was difficult to choose from the variety of great options. I’m curious to know how an initiative can work transition in developing countries, and that I had known dynamic women the night before and was intrigued. I was not disappointed.

There are several transition initiatives in Brazil and is located in Brasilândia, the slums of Rio de Janeiro. In August 2009, an international transition training in Sao Paulo spawned three transition initiatives.

There were challenges to the idea that the global “North” would have something to offer as many sustainable projects were already underway. But soon came to realize that the transition structure had much they could build. There was then a training in Rio de Janeiro, where several other initiatives were founded, including Brasilândia.

May and Monica
Isabella talked about Transition Granja Viana, where she lives. The projects initiated include exchange fairs, waste projects, promotion of organic vegetables and ecouraging responsible vote. They are planning to do an “Art everywhere” project, painting lampposts, etc. A group Heart and Soul is about to begin.

They are also planning to sponsor a “Spice up your memories” event where people bring pictures of their families and share their cultural history. (Brazil is a multi-cultural country.) And at some point they want to build a building as a hub for transition activities.

In Brazilandia there are many sub-sections of the slum, each with a name and a sense of pride of place by the inhabitants. At the edge of Brazilandia is the largest urban forest in the world, which provides 80 percent of the water to São Paulo.

A large part of the education of Transition is about the value of the forest and they are “moving the forest to the city,” transplanting trees in yards and trying to stop invading forest development. Moreover, they are reliving stories in the history of Brazilandia to share in schools and edible gardens grow on school property. Other projects include,
Zero waste efforts. They mapped out where the waste is in large piles around the area, took very publicly, and encouraged people not to continue to throw garbage in these areas, but only in designated locations.

Presenters said the concept of Transition adds to what is already happening, as it brings a way to design your future and creates a learning environment. Transition brings a completely systems, most importantly, includes the concept of internal transition. “Brazilians are ready to take their destiny in their hands,” said May.

It was a fantastic conference and I look forward to reviewing what I learned there and see how I can bring some of that to my community transition and how I can share it with other people in Vermont.”