Today was a very successful work day for our group. We started the day with a trip to the quiet neighborhood of Laranjeiras. An everyday middle class area, this district was different from most of the places we have visited so far. There was not much traffic and very little tourists walking around. It was a peaceful environment, and the headquarters for the organization we were meeting, Meu Rio (My Rio). Meu Rio is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) whose mission is to involve the citizens of Rio in the decision making process of the city. They are working to build a better community by using technology and the Internet. We had the opportunity to meet with and learn from Leonardo Eloi, one of the heads of the organization. Leonardo spoke with us about many of the different projects Meu Rio has implemented, and we asked questions to gather information on how it can relate to our project. The use of technology is a crucial tool in today’s world for solving the types of issues we have been studying, and Meu Rio takes advantage of this just as we plan to do.
One successful project that Meu Rio is very proud of involves the attempted demolition of a school in Rio by the government in preparation for the Olympic Games. A community-oriented school, its members were not happy about being told their building was going to be destroyed. The people in the school were determined to stay together even if they did have to be relocated. Those at Meu Rio became involved in the issue and used an interesting technique to protect the school. They put a video camera in the door of one of the buildings in the school and connected it to a live stream. Approximately two thousand people enrolled to serve as “watchdogs” on the stream, and at least seven people at a time would be watching the stream in case anyone came to the school at night with trucks or bulldozers to try and tear down the school. If anything like this was attempted or any otherwise suspicious activity happened, there was a button on the site to click and it would send a text message to everyone who had enrolled in the project. These people would then know to go to the school to prevent anything from happening. The project was a success, and the government eventually gave up on their plans to demolish the school. Meu Rio used their resources to save a local school from being demolished.
After our successful meeting with Leonardo, we went to a juice and snack bar for lunch. After filling up and re-energizing, we took the metro back to the hotel and spent the next few hours catching up on work and research. Later in the afternoon, we had small group meetings with Adam, Alison and Saba to discuss our progress so far with our research blogs and project ideas. At seven thirty we headed out to dinner at a Brazilian cafeteria-style “à quilo” restaurant, a buffet where food is paid for by weight, where we ran into a group of American exchange students from New York. After dinner, we came back to the hotel to rest up for a new day tomorrow!