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Post from Right to the City - Brazil

Right to the City - Brazil | Projects | Brazil Travel Blog | Updates

  • The day started off by having a brainstorming session of ideas for what projects we might want to create for the “Right to the City” Studio when we get back to Boston. We discussed doing three technology projects and one media/storytelling project. The technology aspect involves creating some kind of device or website that connects youth in favelas with other favelas and to the city. The media/storytelling project mostly relates to raising awareness of issues facing the favelas, and the way people in favelas are using different forms of media. Our discussion ended by writing down our assumptions about how or why people would use our technology project, and then turning those assumptions into questions we would ask at a meeting the next day with different youth from favelas around Rio.

    After our morning group discussion, we headed over to Praça Tiradentes, a square in Rio de Janeiro's downtown area, on the metro for a visit with “Studio-X.” Studio-X is a NuVu-like program that is part of Columbia University. The students mostly study, analyze  and address design, architecture, art, and city planning problems within a city location. Today, the director of Studio-X, Pedro Rivera, gave us a presentation about why certain problems exist within Rio and how they formed. A lot of the presentation focused on the history of Rio, the city’s inequality and exclusivity problems, and possible solutions. He also framed many of the issues from the perspective of the economic outcomes for certain groups within Rio, and particular events that took place in Rio that led to urban changes. 

    In our prior visits to organizations and communities, people usually explained what projects they had done, but Pedro talked briefly about Studio X’s actual projects, and spent more time on giving an in depth talk about the history of the favelas and Rio in terms of urban planning. This was a change, but a good one. The lecture was dense, and a lot of what he said was worth noting. We definitely learned a lot of cold-hard facts about how the economy works through the lens of an urban planner, architect, etc., instead just analyzing what people have done. This is an important distinction, if we want to understand what problems we have to address for our projects and how to do this when we get back to NuVu.