Outside Reading: News Features on Expat-Blog.com

A News feature
is now available for the community on Expat-Blog.com. It allows you to see the latest posts from other blogs and I think helps increase the connectivity of the expat community worldwide. It’s also great to see at a glance what’s going on worldwide.
There are also new blog listings and ways to search them.
One last thing, you can now make blog recommendations…so my dearest, beautiful readers if you want you could always throw Brasil! Pra mim…some love.


Outside Reading/ Viewing: Pixação

If you’ve here in Brazil or visited, you’ve seen them everywhere. Scrawled on walls, covering them like beautiful ivy or uncontrollable, menacing Kudzu, they make intricate almost Rorschach test like patterns, if you squint and/or are a little imaginative.


I call them squiggles but today I learned that the official word for them is Pixação and the people that make them are pichadores. Piche literally means tar and these squiggles orignally appeared more than half a century ago in response to political banners and slogans.

What they are, are crew or individuals’ name done in a cryptic yet crude manner. Crude because most pichadores in Rio only use a single can of spray paint to make their marks.

I love them and have since I first saw them. I seem to be mostly alone in my opinion, at least among my friends and acquaintances (MGFI scowls every time I point them out). I am personally amazed at how high up some of them are on various buildings. I like to imagine the people perilously scaling the walls in the heart of darkness.

The idea that they risk life and limb just to write their name or their crew’s name is both sad and beautiful to me. I’m reminded of the dozen or so people I’ve met in Brazil while walking around taking pictures who asked me to take their picture. I was surprised when they answered no after I asked if they wanted a copy or a way to see it. They seemed to just want to be seen by someone someday somewhere. It came across to me that they wanted to be counted, to exist, if only on a four by six piece of paper or Facebook/ Flickr album they’d never see.

Here are two groups that stopped me in Angra and asked for their pictures to be taken :



They didn’t give me their names nor ask for mine but now in ways I know them. They are real to me and will always be.

That’s the way I see the Pixação. It’s literally someone making their mark on the world. In sometimes a daring, artistically brave maybe desperate cry to been seen and counted. Maybe it’s not a Van Gogh or even a Banksy but like Banksy- whose works were once cast aside and criticized as being destructive graffiti but now are in gallery exhibits while collectors steal chunks of wall he once “vandalized”- Pixaçao is beginning to be looked at differently, closer.

The Rio Times’ Nathan M. Walters wrote last week about a Pixação documentary, Luz… Câmera, PICHAÇÃO!. You can read the article here, New Documentary on Pixação, Graffiti.

Outside Reading: Lullaby of the Commons’ Countdown to Rio+20 Articles

Speaking of Rio+20, another excellent blog, Lullaby of the Commons, is doing a very informative series of countdown to Rio+20 articles. They also state that “During Rio+20, Lullaby of the Commons will have ongoing blogging activities, including interviews, responses to the negotiations, etc.” If you’re interested in Rio+20, it’s possible impact, it’s responsibilities, options and a little of the UN’s environmental history, than I think that this is a great place to look.


Wind and Solar Energy in Brazil: Understanding the How and Why (By Eric Lonstein and Todd Winter) is great post on Harvard Students talk Rio+20 (which is a blog full of Harvard students’ studies of Rio+20, Brazil and sustainability). Wind and Solar energy in Brazil is part of a bigger three part blog series entitled, Making the Cleanest Energy Economy Cleaner. The cleanest energy economy they’re speaking of is Brazil, which is made clear in the opening line of the post, “Brazil’s energy matrix is often touted as among the cleanest in the world: over 80% of Brazil’s power is produced from renewable resources.” The post then goes on to address the raising wind energy industry in Brazil and the role the government has played and continues to play in the develop of the industry. The post is a very interesting read, as is the entire site. I promise it’s not a lot of hot air. In fact, I highly recommend it.

Outside Reading: IPAM and Information about the Forest Code

Yesterday I lamented a lack of available information about the Forest Code (other than, pleas to veto it because it’s a “hatchet job“) while at the same time praising the Internet as a powerful tool for spreading awareness and starting dialogues. Well, today and hopefully from here on out, I’m going to attempt to harness a little more of that power myself and share what I learn here on this blog.

Please note that I am not an expert on anything nor a member of any NGOs or any country’s government institutions, I am simply an American expat who does freelance photography and writing and am attempting to document, from my subjective viewpoint, various parts of my life in Brazil. I change my mind. I get things wrong. I lose things through translation but above all I’m constantly hungry to know more about the world I live in, everything in it, on it, how it’s changing, why and what could be different.

Ok, so onward we go.

Today I want to look at the organization IPAM.

Who is IPAM?

The Amazon Environmental Research Institute (O Instituto De Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia) is the Brazilian NGO known by the acronym, IPAM. According to their about page (which is in English. The whole site can be read in Enlgih or Portuguese), this 16 year old organization is:

“Made up of scientists and educators, the remit of IPAM was to address three problems that threaten the survival of the forest and its people: degraded landscape, non-sustainable economies and social injustice. To that effect, another important premise of IPAM, which still cuts across its main work, is the idea that solutions to the problems arising for Amazon region shall, necessarily, include the active participation of people living in the region, especially the forest people: indigenous, extractivists, rivers village and maroons, among others”

So, why is this interesting?

Well, first as I said above, the site can be read in it’s entirety in English and second, they have dedicated page to Forest Code updates that dates back to November 30, 2011.

The updates that I found interesting are:

1. UPDATE: November 30, 2011 – features answers to, among other questions, ” What is the Forest Code?” and “Why is pressure to change the Forest Code on the part of the rural sector so strong?”. This update also explains what PPAs (APPs in Portuguese) are. If you, like me have stumbled across this acronym in other articles about the Forest Code, you might also be happy to learn that PPA, in this case, stands for permanent protection areas.

2. UPDATE: May 10, 2012– backlinks to an EDF.org article,In Brazil, attorneys and scientists join calls for President Dilma Rousseff to veto Forest Code wherein you can find a backlink to the real meat and potatoes, 13 Reasons for President Rousseff to veto the new Brazilian forestry code . I know that’s a lot of backlinking but sometimes you have to dig and click through. It’s all in English, so I think it’s worth the hunt.

The entire IPAM website is worth looking over, if you ask me. They have a REDD(Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) document available for download and several other online documents. They also have a free online course, The Amazon Rainforest and Climate Change. Finally, this page,IPAM Learn More , is almost full to the point of bursting with interesting information.

In conclusion, I think it’s all informative outside reading. If you’re interested in what’s happening in the Amazon, I think it might be a good starting point.

Outside Reading: Agriculture: Better land management pays dividends

“Few things are more exasperating for farmers and officials in Brazil – where vast areas of native ecosystems still survive in spite of generations of destruction – than being lectured at by Europeans whose ancestors long since chopped down almost all their primeval forests. No amount of persuasion, it seems, will convince outsiders that the majority of Brazilian agriculture takes place tens, hundreds and even thousands of kilometres from the Amazon forest.”

If you want an interesting read about Brazil’s agribusiness, try Jonathan Wheatley’s Agriculture: Better land management pays dividends. It’s one of many articles in Financial Times’ new Investing in Brazil 2012 Special Report

Outside Reading: Will Upcoming UN Rio +20 Summit Be Successful

Today on Huffington Post under the GREEN section, you’ll find Jenny Barchfield’s,
United Nations Rio+20 Summit: Concerns Raised Over Lack Of ‘Transformational Change’.

The future of the Rio +20 summit, which will be held in Barra, Rio de Janeiro later next month, isn’t looking so good. With the recent announcements of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s and British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decisions not attend, President Obama still not saying whether he’ll stay or go yet , a lack of interest in the summit from traditional American green groups and the UN itself still bracketing and not doing on the zero draft document, Barchfield’s article highlights many more bumps, if not downright sinkholes, in the road to Rio. Most upsetting are the exorbitant hotel fees and lack of hotels which could gouge unsuspecting gringos in the first place. When I spoke with MGFI she said, “That’s the way of the Brazilian businessman. Sell for few people with the highest price instead of selling for all with the lowest price.” Well, fewer and fewer people might be buying during occasions like this in the future. I hope not.

Outside Reading: Kozloff’s article – Is Obama wary of Brazil and Dilma Rousseff?

Is Obama wary of Brazil and Dilma Rousseff? is a very interesting longread opinion article from Al Jazeera’s Nikolas Kozloff. Delving deeper into US diplomatic relations with Brazil, Kozolf illustrates, with multiple examples, how everything might not be as good as it seems on the surface.

Outside Reading: Expat Blog

Speaking of things that future and current expats might find helpful, I’m reminded of Expat Blog. It’s great place for expats to get information from other expats around the world. Created seven years ago as a way to gather global expat blogs into one spot, Expat Blog has evolved into so much more. There are forums, articles, pictures, guides and a business directory. Oh and if youre looking for a job or a place to live, two new great additions are The International Job Board
and The Housing Section.
I really like Expat Blog. I’m a member there and have been since before I arrived in Brazil. It has helped me in so many ways. I’ve found other blogs I love there and have had others find my blog through my listing. There’s are over 420,000 members and 1.8 million visitors per month. So, there’s a lot to see and a lot of possible interaction. Before I moved, I frequently read the forums. They helped immensely with questions I had about visas, shopping, what to bring and how to send it. Maybe Expat Blog could be helpful to you all as well if it hasn’t been already.

Outside Reading: Learning a New Language

Today I stumbled across a couple of blog posts that I found helpful and insightful. Thinking some of you might like them as well, I’m sharing them now.

The first – Destiny + Experience = Powerful Language Learning is from the blog, The Everyday Language Learner (an excellent blog full of encouragement and tips for learning another language) This post deals with why we learn a foreign language and how we might learn it better with total immersion or at least a good reason for learning the language. If you’ve moving to Brazil and don’t speak Portuguese, this blog is for you. Please pay special attention to:

“Finding ways to use the language you are learning, to experience the dream you have of mastering the language, is an inescapable necessity if you are to succeed. Thankfully, in today’s world, this is easier than ever before. Here are a few ideas for how to experience more of the dream:

Make a friend with a native speaker in your community.
Join a club or association. Here are two examples: The French Table in Omaha, Nebraska; The Chinese Association in Wichita, Kansas.
Visit Meetup.com and search for language meetups near you.
Use The Mixxer to find a language exchange partner you can talk with over Skype.”

I highly recommend you do at least one of these things, if possible, before you leave for Brazil. Learning from books, audio CD’s, songs and movies are all very helpful but actually interacting with another speaker, hearing them and having to reply appriorately is great. I wish I had done that more or with a group before I left.

What I found, was that people here didn’t speak like the phrase books or my lessons. I would say “Tudo Bem” and they wouldn’t just answer with “Tudo”. I’d hear paragraphs before I could meagerly say I didn’t understand. Of course, I did have my own native speaker in MGFI, but I think it’s different learning that way. She would go easy on me by not correcting a lot of my pronunciations. She knew me, so she understood what I was trying to say in several instances and let me slide.

Languages sound different when spoken. Your ear has to become accustomed to all of the strange unfamiliar noises. I had studied Latin for several years in school and had taken French and Spanish. So, I was familiar with Romance languages. Portuguese, I thought, shouldn’t be that hard. Wrong! I’m wasn’t fluent in Spanish, but I could understand it for the most part and stumble through a little bit of a conversation. Portuguese and Spanish are different but more importantly sound very different even when the words are exactly the same or just slightly different. That’s why I strongly recommend communicating with an actual person who doesn’t know you but wants to make time to help you. You can probably also help them with their English.

On to the second post, 5 metaphors for language learning from Matador Aboard. This is for people in the process of learning another language. I myself have felt like all 5 at different times, sometimes at the same time.

In terms of language learning, I think you just have to go easy on yourself. Prepare for many epic fails. Forgive yourself for messing up, dust yourself off and try again. I’ve found all of the Brazilians I’ve met so far to be extremely encouraging. If I get one word right, it feels like it’s almost parade time for how awesome I’m doing. I like that and it makes me want to keep trying. Of course, from time to time I get frustrated, become confused and yell at myself for not doing better. However, I keep going. It’s the moments when I do actually communicate something to someone in Portuguese that make all the struggling worth it.

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