Reading Brazil

The glass is also half full in Brazil. Ingenuity and insight in the face of adversity abound. So don’t be dismayed or overwhelmed by the proliferation of tales from the half empty glass. Of course, serious, longstanding challenges exist. But like everywhere else Brazilians aren’t standing idly by. And like everywhere else not much will change unless its citizens take action. So Brazilians are pushing ahead by writing, analyzing, documenting, creating… As they must.

For those with a thirst to understand Brazilians in their own words the following will get you started:

Women Writing Brazil – Check out these highlights from PEN America’s current issue. “In this issue, you’ll discover writers whose work you’ll want desperately to know better. They will reveal to you unimagined landscapes – on the Amazon, in the suburbs of Rio, in Sao Paulo, in the hearts or in the imagination – that will mark you indelibly. These pieces do what literature should and must: they open up the world.” That’s the  assessment of novelist Claire Messud.

Os Gemos (The Twins) – Brazil has a vibrant street art scene used to comment on the country’s political and social realities. And as the basis for social enterprise solutions. The most famous street artists are identical twin brothers, Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, who are to Brazil what Banksy is to Britain. They have taken their work around the world including to Granville Island here in Vancouver. Here is a link to some of the other amazing Brazilian graffiti specialists.

Publica is a non-profit independent women-led news agency in Brazil. “For us, journalism is not in crisis – it’s under renovation.” The word ‘Publica’ in Portuguese is a feminine adjective. It means everything that belongs to the public. Lots of links to what else is going on in Brazil.

Protecting the Amazon – Check out this profile, courtesy the Ecologist magazine and Greenpeace, of the Munduruku people protecting their land against a proposed hydro-electric dam on a tributary of the Amazon. Worth watching the embedded video to hear these words from a young, determined Munduruku woman: “I am not a weak person. I think I am a woman of a lot of courage. There isn’t any work I can’t do. I am a very strong person.”

Stephanie Nolen – Anything by the Globe and Mail’s Stephanie Nolen can be counted on. For authenticity, thoughtful analysis, insight and heart. She lives in Rio where she heads the Globe’s Latin American bureau. Check this link to Rio, the Olympics and Broken Promises, an essay she contributed to the brilliant on-line journal, Hakai magazine. (BTW Hakai is quickly becoming a weekly reading highlight for me. Their mission: to explore science, society and the environment from a coastal perspective.)

Whoops, nearly forgot the music. Here are a couple of links: the Brasil Music Exchange and The Ultimate Brazil Playlist. Guaranteed to get your hips moving.

Bonus: Did you know that in Sao Paulo, one of the world’s largest cities, you can use your book as your subway fare? Only in Brazil eh! Pity


Indigenous women are warrior women, we will fight to the death. And one day, we will win.

     – Munduruku woman

Musical accompaniment this post by the BC World Music Collective, a collection of musicians from around the world (Brazil, Cuba, Mexica, Africa…) now living in and around Vancouver. Music here. Samba everywhere – your desk, kitchen, living room, car …


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The Long Now of Impact

Many are cold… but few are frozen

It’s Not Easy Being Seen

I Shall not Hate

Drive a Stake Through It

A Robust Society is a Feminist Society

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