Building the Maré that we want – Redes da Maré

Building the Maré that we want

The name says it all. This project is the fruit of the collective desire of residents of Maré. What are the primary needs and claims of the communities that make up this complex of favelas, the biggest in Rio de Janeiro in terms of population? Is the “basic” sufficient? Are entertainment, art, culture, self-esteem and respect for diversity important as well? Which is the Maré that we want?

With these questions in mind, representatives of 16 favelas in Maré began a series of regular meetings in February 2010 with the goal of building a common platform of claims and needs. The list of priorities, transformed into a document called “The Maré that We Want,” includes the areas of health, education, arts and culture, sport and leisure, public security, environment, infrastructure, work and income generation, transportation, housing, and communications. These claims are being presented to the different public authorities in Rio responsible for these areas.

By unifying all the favelas that form Maré around common goals, the project revitalizes an important characteristic of the region: the history of social movements and collective action of Maré’s residents since the founding of the community in the 1940s. The idea is to join forces once again to develop new actions and generate a structured project that can transform Maré into a real neighborhood – with the infrastructure that would make it equal to other areas of the city.

Through the creation of a unified space for discussion, debate, and reflection for the communities of Maré, Redes hopes to build a permanent forum for people and organizations committed to the development of the neighborhood. The objective is to find answers to some structural problems in the region, which have been without a solution for some time – including the role of the state in Maré.

In the first part of the project, Redes united leaders of all the residents’ associations in Maré in regular meetings in order to stimulate reflection about the primary problems that affect the lives of residents of Maré. One of the principal results of these discussions was the discovery that, despite the fact that each community in the favela is distinct, they have various problems in common. The representatives of the 16 favelas of Maré decided there was great need for spreading access to, and improving, existing public services, as well as creating new structures for residents in various areas of public space and citizenship.

In the second stage of the project, the objective is to elaborate a work plan that meets the priorities of the community, making claims for action on the part of the state. The group is meeting with municipal, state, and federal government representatives to present the projects developed by the group and guarantee that they are transformed into concrete actions. Redes is also hosting monthly meetings with specific themes of interest to residents and accompanying public institutions in the implementation of the plan.

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