Thursday, November 3, 2011

Greening the ghetto, Rio style

Majora Carter’s story of how she helped transform a South Bronx landfill into a park while raising awareness about environmental problems is one of the most inspiring of any in the green movement. Her Greening the Ghetto motto gets to the heart of one of the environmental movement’s biggest challenges – escaping the stigma that it’s an affectation of liberal yuppies and demonstrating that environmental injustice is at the core of poverty.

Which is why I’m glad to see Rio de Janeiro projects to green the favelas, like the recently created Fabrica Verde in the slum of Complexo do Alemao. The place was until last year run by drug-lords who were pushed out in a high-profile military raid that made international headlines as tanks rolled through the slum hillsides, and again several days later when children were shown swimming in the backyard pool of a fallen drug-slinger.

In late October the city opened a factory to receive electronic waste and teaches at-risk teenagers how to turn old junked computers into working machines. The program includes environmental education to teach people about the importance of recycling old electronics as well as basic waste management that in many Rio favelas is currently based on tossing garbage off the edges of steep hills.

A group of 720 kids will receive classes in computer maintenance over two years and will help create reverse logistics systems to reduce e-waste and guarantee a supply of old computers to be refurbished.

Local television news coverage of the story here.

Very cool.

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