Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


The APER (Friends of the Ecological Park of Rocinha) collective is turning the park into a space of confraternization and reflection, helping overcome the traumas and needs of the community.
Photos by Marta Gil Riesco // instagram: @martagilriesco

FOOD CITY – The ecological park of Rocinha was created to stimulate the encounter between Rocinha residents and nature. Other than representing a solution to the lack of spaces for collective use in Rocinha, it puts a brake on the disordered expansion of the Rocinha community towards the Tijuca National Park.

The construction of the park, which has cost dozens of millions of reais to the public power, was marked by the controversial disappearance of resident Amarildo Dias de Souza, in 2013, a few days after its inauguration.

Thanks to a big community mobilization, it was found that Amarildo had been tortured and killed by police officers inside the park’s area. This fact had a catastrophic consequence for the park: It was then abandoned by the public administration, and the local population, traumatized and scarred by the violent event, stopped visiting the venue, and didn’t create bonds with the space. As time went by, the park ended up being depredated and looted. The park’s abandonment also opened space to the advance of irregular constructions in the area, considered “environmental protection”.

Since mid-2016, a group of residents joined Public Ministry representatives in the effort of restructuring the park. Until this day, however, there have been few advances.

In 2021, the planting of the Yellow Ipê seedling, the tree symbolizing the union of the World Capitals of Architecture, in the Public Municipal School Luiz Paulo Horta, in Rocinha, inspired Giliard Barreto, a local resident, to start a vegetable garden in that school. Immediately joined the idea Severino Franco, a resident who participated in the debates on the restructuring of the park, and an activist experienced in vegetable gardens and ecology; and the architecture student Hans Richter, interested in the same themes. At the end of 2021, the three participants organized a festivity in the park, which gathered children and adults, both residents and visitors. It was a simple, but emblematic action.

At the beginning of 2022, the small group joined Professor and architect Patrícia Maya, who works with themes related to community participation; and the architect and activist Guto Santos, who organized the planting of the tree #agentemuda, and a former superintendent of Rio’s State Government, where he developed, for Rocinha, ecological strategies based on the active participation of the community. The new group, which rapidly attracted more members, such as professors Maíra Martins and Monica Bahia, realized it would be fundamental to give continuity and regularity to the actions promoted in the park. A strategy found was to regularly invite people and collectives to develop their activities in the area, bringing a diverse range of pleasant activities to the place.

Since then, the meetings, coined as SUPERAÇÃO (meaning, in Portuguese, both “overcoming” and “big action”), have been taking place monthly, always proposing a suggestive, but not restrictive, theme.

Due to concerns such as communication focus, and the minimizing of individual responsibilities, the group found it necessary to create a collective name, one capable of inspiring universal identification.

The Friends of the Ecological Park of Rocinha are not restricted to its organizers, or those who participate in its monthly activities. The collective is open to all of those who believe in the human – non-human integration, dialogue, and in confraternization as tools for overcoming hardships and traumas, in the encounter as a generous act in the pursuit of collective happiness.

* Text by Guto Santos

Partner: Guto Santos, Hans Richter; Ladijane Chagas; Maíra Martins; Monica Bahia; Patrícia Maya; Severino Franco.
A group of people who are interested in the environmental quality of spaces for collective use, as potentializers of a less unequal, fairer and happier society.

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