Dispatches from Rio+20: Talking grassroots change
By Valerie Davis, EnviroMedia Social Marketing
“It can be perfectly adopted to any democratic city,” he said.
Lago created Meu Rio three years ago with his cofounder Alessandra Orofino, a high school friend. As Lago tells it, he was studying public policy in France and she was at Columbia in New York, “but all we could think about was Rio.”
“All this Facebook and Twitter was beginning, and it was sophisticated but the content was full of crap,” Lago said. “We thought, with this kind of communication we can really do something.”
So the pair developed a business plan and went into cultivation mode with the high-profile IETS think tank. Last December, they publicly launched Meu Rio and put it to the test with its first campaign — the education budget battle they almost won.
Right now, Lago has his eye on a bubbling issue related to Rio’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. To make way for stadiums and other sports facilities, according to Lago, the government is evicting an estimated 20,000 people from the “favelas” (slums) with a day’s notice and $969. Lago described the situation as “absolute cruelty” and said The New York Times coverage in March has caused city officials to snap too, but only superficially. In the meantime, Meu Rio’s campaign “O Maraca é Nosso!/The Maraca is Ours!” focuses on the displacement of residents of the Metro favela to make way for the World Cup stadium.
I asked Lago if Meu Rio’s technology model makes it difficult for the poor to participate, and he said 30 percent of Rio doesn’t have online access. “It’s not just about money but a generation gap,” he said, pointing out that 90 percent of Rio’s young (age 15 to 30) do have access.
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