Tag Archives: Brazil

Help Solidarium! Help Brazil!

21 Jan

While I was in Curitiba I worked for the microfinance section of a nonprofit that also had areas working in education/training and fair trade.  The fair trade section of the organization is called Solidarium, and they recently became finalists for the Unreasonable Institute’s Fellowship program.  The program brings fellows from all over the world to the United States for an intensive six week training, where they are also connected to mentors, investors, and a plethora of resources.  I think that Solidarium would benefit immensely from participating as a fellow– so this is where you come in! The first 25 of the 45 finalists to raise $8,000 become fellows.  However, during the first week all of the donations are limited to a maximum of $10 so that they can prove they’re able to mobilize people all over the world, and show the expanse of their network.  Let’s show Brazil they have friends and supporters all over the world!

Please consider making a donation!  You can learn more about the project and donate here: http://marketplace.unreasonableinstitute.org/ventures/view/54/
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.  Please send this to anyone you think might be interested!



It was by chance, the happiesty, the most

24 Nov

Translations I like (ranks up there with Take the Brazil in Chest):

While I’m making fun, it’s actually a beautiful poem, if you can conjecture what a more appropriate English translation would sound like.


Wall Art of the Week #8

24 Nov

This was found outside of the Vila Madalena Metro Station in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“More Love, Please” (It rhymes in Portuguese)

Just in Case Anyone Still Reads This…

12 Nov

And is wondering about my whereabouts…I’m still here! (But not for long)

This last week in Curitiba they had a city-wide arts/culture event called Virada Cultural that had a bunch of free concerts and other arts programming all over the city.  I saw:

-A concert by Pato Fu
-A capoeira event
-The Brazilian film Quincas Berro d’Agua, which I highly recommend if you can find a subtitled version!
-The play Divorciadas, Evangelicas e Vegetarianas, which was the hilarious story of the chance encounter of three women: one divorced, one vegetarian, and one evangelical (original script written by a Venezuelan).
-Not part of the cultural event week, but a cultural event for me nonetheless: An Umbanda Ceremony. Wikipedia says: “Umbanda is an Afro-Brazilian religion that blends African religions with Catholicism, Spiritism and many indigenous lore.”  The article makes for an interesting read, and the event made for an interesting experience.  (See video of a ceremony here)

Umbanda is believed to have grown out of the poor black population in Rio de Janeiro– however most of it’s followers today are  in the south of Brazil, and are middle-class and White.  It was interesting to observe who was in attendance– as men made their way through the crowd in business suits, brushing elbows with little old women in traditional dress.

I’m headed to the beach this weekend because we have a long weekend through Monday, so I’ll write a longer update next week! Beijos!


Wall Art of the Week #7

3 Nov

This wall art was found in Largo da Ordem, the pedestrian street in downtown Curitiba.  I like the wall art, but I especially like the door, and the fact that a dove (albino pigeon) is popping it’s head out of the top of the door.

Eureka Moments!

28 Oct

Steven Johnson is profiled in this article about where good ideas come from– very interesting. (See shorter video version)

As I read this paragraph, I thought, “Hey, I know exactly what you’re talking about!”

“If this seems completely obvious, consider, Johnson says, how it explains the otherwise spooky phenomenon of the “multiple” – the way certain inventions or discoveries occur in several places simultaneously, apparently by chance. Sun-spots were discovered in 1611 by four different scientists in four different countries; electrical batteries were invented twice, separately, one year apart. (Similar things happened in the earliest days of the steam engine and telephone.) People have tried to explain this using vague terms such as the “zeitgeist”, or of certain ideas just being “in the air”. But there’s a simpler possibility, which is that the innovation in question had simply become part of the adjacent possible.”

I immediately flashed back to Buchner Pool in Waukesha, WI, and was staring down at my seven year old hand holding a soft pretzel from the concession stand (much needed nourishment for all of the intense swimming I was doing), when I thought, “Man, these pretzels would be so much better if they were filled with cheese.”  Elated at the prospect of this invention, I began telling everyone…to which many responded, “Molly, those already exist.”

How could these fools not realize the original thought that had gone into unlocking that amazing idea– this cheese filling development was surely going to revolutionize the soft pretzel industry.

My dreams came crashing down when I was on a grocery shopping trip to Sam’s Club the next week– where cheese-filled soft pretzels were available to buy in BULK!

I learned at a young age that often times brilliant ideas are conceived at the exact same time by multiple people…and that SuperPretzel just managed to get the idea to market much quicker than I did.

Better luck next time.  🙂

Politcal Context/Political Commentary

25 Oct

A few people have asked me, “So it must be really interesting in Brazil right now with the election coming up, right?”

Each time I almost have to scan my brain for a minute, ‘Election…election…what election?’

Oh, that’s right, the Presidential Election!

On the streets the propaganda of candidates is so relentlessly shoved into the hands/face/ears of each passerby that it’s almost become a type of white noise.  If utilizing the internet and social media won Obama the 2008 Election, then candidates in Brazil are hoping that having people vigorously wave political flags on each corner, hand out little papers/ads in the street, and drive cars around with external stereos blasting music that has been specially written to include the politicians name, political platform, etc. are the key campaign tactics to winning this year’s election.

And if decibels were any measure of dedication, there would be a lot of political front-runners…as these specially composed songs have the habit of sounding extremely loud even all the way up in my 12th floor bedroom when the windows are closed. [I write these paragraphs acknowledging that Obama was obviously harnessing the internet to reach out to a different population, namely, one that definitely had internet access]

Beyond these ever-present campaign tactics, political discussions here don’t seem to be very common.  I’m sure that part of it is I am most often around groups of Brazilians while at work– and people aren’t very interested in mixing work and political perspectives [in a country where everyone is required to have one, as voting is compulsory if you are between ages 18-70 and literate– for everyone else it is voluntary].  However, if I ask Brazilians directly about their thoughts, almost everyone responds that the northeast (aka poor area) of Brazil votes left and are Lula supporters, and that the south (aka wealthier area) votes right…discussing the rest of the country’s tendencies, instead of their own.

Watch this video for background information on candidates [Green party candidate already eliminated]:

I imagine it’s easier for Brazilians to talk about what everyone else is doing, because many have lost faith in their personal ability to change political systems– often feeling totally helpless.  They’re quick to point out that there will inevitably be lots of corruption, with no shortage of historical examples to highlight as proof.

It seems the sequel to the movie Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad), a semi-fictional story of the BOPE, the Special Operations Batallion of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police, came out just in time to remind people of the corruption that exists/that can exist in Brazil.

I wish I were lying when I said that “Knife in the Skull” (“Faca na Caveira”) was the motto of the BOPE.  This is their logo:

Tropa de Elite II contains some excellent social commentary, with the opening of the movie ironically flipping back and forth between a Brazilian professor giving a class on the systems and institutions in place that allow corruption to run rampant (seemingly very distant from any violent realities), and a bloody uprising in a jail where inmates start killing people from opposing organized crime factions, when the BOPE comes in and suddenly there’s just bullets flying everywhere.

Afterward, when the Captain of the BOPE explains that there was senseless and unwarranted killing going on during the uprising, he says, ‘We might as well just have called it ‘Operation Iraqi.”

Referencing the Brazilian Presidential Election: “Whoever wins will be elected because of a rejection of the other candidate,” and not because of their platforms, he said. (Read full New York Times Article)

Political elections often are choosing the lesser of two evils, and it seems that this election in Brazil will be no exception.

%d bloggers like this: