As I mentioned in my previous entry about Rio+20, filmmaker and environmental activist João Amorim has been working with the Botanical Garden of Brasília and with Rio NGO Verdejar to promote these organizations’ joint permaculture initiative at Complexo do Alemão in Rio. As you will see in their report (RioPlus20RioPlusGreenEnglishPostRioSmall), the initiative is quite broad and involves a variety of efforts: the recycling of urban waste in an innovative way that turns waste into a water filtration system; the deployment of a solar water heating kit that produces hot water without the need for electricity or fuel, and using low-cost materials and simple techniques; and permaculture proper, involving the creation of a garden space where a variety of food crops are grown, complementing each other with respect to soil nutrients, shade, and physical support, and providing foodstuffs year-round. Not only that, but the permaculture site at Morro do Alemão is strategically located with the intention of creating a transition zone between the dense space of the Complexo’s favelas and the area’s sole remaining natural space—the Serra da Misericórdia—hence helping preserve the Serra for its ecological value and especially as a natural park for the communities of the Complexo.
While Rio+20 was unfolding, João worked hard to bring to the permaculture site at the Complexo those of us coming from different corners of the world with an interest in this type of initiatives. João and his collaborators from the Botanical Garden, Verdejar, Solarize (an NGO working on the solar water heating kit) and the local community spared no efforts to show us every element of the initiative and the context in which it is being developed—until very recently, one of Rio’s most violent favela areas, but also (in Nova Brasília, one of the Complexo’s favelas) one of the places where I lived during my fieldwork for The Myth of Marginality. It was an unforgettable experience and an outstanding example of the ideas and practices that the Mega-Cities project is all about!