Cases and News

‘Press Play’ for Transition


Strong messages or messages that give support may come in many words, but sometimes only one may mobilise many. It would appear that in Brazil, this applies. Brazil is in a time of change and in a time where one word can move many. It is as though one had pressed ‘play’ on a beautiful song.

Representatives from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro met in CEU Jardim Paulistano last Saturday for the second National Transition Towns Meeting, Brasilândia. The event also brought together Oficina da Sustentabilidade and neighbourhood leaders in order to share their experiences and reinforce their bonds of partnership with new contacts.

Even with a cold beginning to the day, neither the organisers nor the invitees would leave off participating, as the meeting promised to improve participants’ awareness of community policies and the effects of such policies on civil society.

The first round of conversations involved a circle in which participants got to know each other, and each mentioned what they were going to add to the group. Beauty, Transformation, Inspiration, Harmony, Contentment, Resilience, Forgiveness, Purpose, Surrender, Intent, Liberty were some of the words that each participant picked out for themselves at the beginning of the meeting.

  • Beauty, in order to observe the strength of unity and of the positive acts which happen when unity is present;
  • Transformation, in order to perceive what needs to be maintained and what needs to change in order to attain a better community, group or project;
  • Inspiration, in order to observe every detail and note everything important in order to realise beautiful actions;
  • Harmony, in maintaining positive energy in an always active group and in the face of fatigue or difficult moments.
  • Contentment to see that focus, perception and small attitudes are enough in some instances in order to transform things;
  • Resilience in order to balance the energy to resist as needed before challenges, and when you need to restrain the self in favour of the team;
  • Forgiveness in order to relieve oneself from burdens carried by choice or because of responsibilities at work, and know that everyone can live in harmony;
  • Purpose in order to know that everyone has their importance in a group, everyone forms part of the whole, and creates great works;
  • Surrender, in order to dedicate oneself to one goal and have the discipline to not leave the path of good done for a group or for the community;
  • Intention in order to want to be part of a new project, to want to be a force that helps those close by, even when one doesn’t have more energy, while knowing that the person next to you will do the same for you;
    • Liberty in order to open yourself to the idea that as a group it is possible to achieve anything.

The second round of the meeting presented the history of the Transition Town movement and its main ideas. Reduction of energy consumed, improving recycling policies, making group and community relations better, in order to know those we live close to and so that our actions may reflect well and result in beneficial outcomes for all.

Not all the participants could attend in person but the core group Laranjeiras/Cosme Velho left a card sending their support and reinforcing the progress of the movement.


Below is a section of the letter:

“We believe that all that is happening in the world and in Brazil shows how fertile the ground for transition is. Solutions are necessary now. After the big popular demands on the streets, the necessity for objectivity is here, for a refined and prepared discussion, in order to build the bridges between society and the specialists who have mastered the tools of permaculture and social technologies in order to make the new world that we desire.”

According to the group, there are still obstacles to overcome in order to advance in the search for, for example, increased resiliency in order to execute new projects.

Thinking in the long term, the group hopes for a renewal of their network and its members and the actualisation of their projects, such as Prédios Sustentaveis (Sustainable Buildings), which seeks solutions for reeducation and awareness in condominiums.

Afterward, a number of case studies of communities that had developed according to sustainable policies were presented. Among these were Casa da Videira in Curitiba, where the members create sustainable gardens, recycling programmes for domestic waste, and environmental education programmes.

Another example of amazing action and teamwork was that of the Conjunto Palmeiras, a favela in Ceará where the first community bank in Brazil was instituted and public policies are generated in the community without the necessity of public agencies.

Previously- during the late 1970s-living here was a cause of shame when seeking employment in neighbouring cities, but the population organised themselves to create their own structure in which their necessities would be attended to. A community association was created in 1981, and the population of Conjunto Palmeiras is becoming more active daily.

The result is the creation of businesses that do not compete with each other but rather have formed co-operatives in which each member is trained to execute a specific job, such as making cleaning products, or food. All this is done using the local currency, which has formed the basis of a more just exchange since much of the population lacked an income.

From this 1997 policy, Banco Palmas was developed, the first in its category in the creation of micro-credit for communities, it enabled this community that did not receive support from the municipal or local government to develop.

These examples presented at the meeting reinforced how simple it could be to visualise a society that would grow based on the union of complementary strengths, and not necessarily on the production of income. The wellbeing of the group would be the focus, and hence success would be guaranteed.

Once the presentations were concluded everyone took a tour through the alleys of Brasilândia and visited the geodesic installed in CEU in order to get in touch with the local core and to plan new actions. In conclusion, the participants had a symbolic planting of 22 saplings of pitangueira, boldo miudo, rosinha do sol, and geraniums in the green areas of the school.

Words and photos by Wilson Monticelli

Translation by Wangũi Kamonji