The Canteiros Coletivos movement is a citywide, autonomous, and independent initiative which reclaims abandoned spaces in the city of Salvador, Brazil.

The movement’s aim is to mobilize residents, traders and those who frequent Salvador´s neighborhoods to restore, conserve, and put the city´s public spaces, which belong to everyone, to good use.

One of the main objectives of the movement is to encourage the restoration of neglected urban areas through cleaning efforts, gardening and artistic intervention in order to transform them into pleasant places to spend time and sources of revenue for the local community.

In our teams, everyone contributes what they can; whether it be donating materials, tools or seedlings, transportation, spreading the word about the movement, finding spaces, mobilizing new members or documenting the efforts of the organization through photos and videos.

We believe that intervening in public spaces is an effective way of encouraging a much more active community, ensuring that everyone is aware of how critical looking after communal space is.

Open to all those interested, the efforts of Canteiros Coletivos also work towards motivating others to replicate the idea in their own neighbourhood in order to demonstrate that we, the citizens, are responsible for the look of where we live.

BACKGROUND

The Canteiros Coletivos movement started in February 2012 after various conversations about the state of city of Salvador on social networking sites.

As a consequence of these debates, the first effort of the movement was carried out in the Vale do Canela neighborhood.

With the attention generated by the first meeting, the organization was started to carry out work in other parts of the city; O Curiar, a group of students from the Department of Arquitecture at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) started a joint venture with Canteiros Coletivos to restore the green spaces within the Gantois community.

The aim of this endeavor was to bring the students´ vast knowledge outside of the university walls.

More requests later came from the Solar Boa Vista Cine-Theatre in Engenho Velho de Brotas, from the Bairro-Escola Project in Rio Vermelho and from the NGO Estrela da Paz in the Valéria suburb.

The work of the movement continues to this day in four of these spaces; in Vale do Canela, Gantois, Solar Boa Vista and Praça do Pôr-do-sol, and also in Rio Vermelho.

The continued work of the movement in restoration, landscaping, maintenance, and the use of art in public spaces has also lead to coverage in the media, involvement in seminars and talks, and support on various social networks, demonstrating to more and more people that everyone has the power to transform their city.

THE PROJECT

In the second half of 2012, the Canteiros Coletivos movement decided to become more involved with communities surrounding the abandoned and neglected public areas, encouraging them to take on the responsibility of turning them into green, well-kept, communal spaces.

With this in mind, the involvement of the Instituto de Permacultura da Bahia (The Institute of Permaculture for Bahia/IPB) was vital as this organization made the work of Canteiros Coletivos feasible through the support of Oi Futuro.

With their support, the projects taking place in Gantois and in Engenho Velho have now been transformed in training sessions and workshops which last ten months.

Our aim is to empower communities to take action, providing them with the technology for the maintenance of green areas, for the use of art in public spaces and for a more sustainable usage of the communal spaces in their town.

Another important component of the project is the aim of motivating local young people to take the lead in spreading the word about the project, using online content to mobilize residents, other communities and activists interested in replicating the project.

The free workshops, divided into two phases of 5 months, focus on:

Principles of Ecology These sessions help with planning out the effective use of public space through highlighting the basic principles of the natural cycles of energy and raw materials, through sharing information about the unstable relationship man has with the Earth, and through teaching on the reproduction of species and management of gardens.

Gardening and Landscaping These sessions tackle the issues of the planting and maintenance of gardens, management of tools and of soil, species suitable for urban areas, seed reproduction and the aesthetics of green spaces. They also emphasize the importance of the Agroforestry System and of organic cover for fertile soil.

Urban Art- Express Yourself in Plastic Art These sessions center around the basic notions of design; painting with acrylics, graffiti techniques, creating icons and characters, use of color and developing structures. They encourage the participants of the project to express the character of their community through art rendered on public structures.

Technology, Information, Communication and Leadership Scheduled for the second part of the project, the aim of this session is to create leaders amongst the young people of the community through allowing them to create articles, videos, photos and recordings that document the project in their neighborhood. This content will be added to the Canteiros Coletivos forum/website and will thus promote an online network of coordinators of the maintenance and restoration of public spaces.