Bairro Escola (Neighborhood as School)

Exhibition: Network | December 2, 2011 by

Public schools in Brazil receive inadequate funding and rarely hire enough staff to accommodate the youth population. Children in the public-school system lack access to a well-rounded education, making their entry into the workforce challenging. In 1997, Gilberto Dimenstein formed an initiative that offered the youth of São Paulo an outlet for their creative and intellectual energy. With programs throughout the city, Neighborhood as School provides young students with the opportunity to collaborate with local governments, parents, and community members. In one program, the 100 walls project, students and community members transform the built environment by painting graffiti-inspired mosaic murals that combine rich Brazilian tradition with contemporary art forms. The Aprendiz program brings youth together with local writers and artists to design and create their own books, as well as stools and chairs made from tires and locally available materials. The OldNet program educates high-school students to teach local senior citizens computer skills, allowing an ageing population to engage the digital world. As Neighborhood as School approaches its fifteenth year, nearly forty projects have improved the visual and social make-up of São Paulo. MIT Civic Media Center and Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative are working to replicate this model internationally.

Designer: Gilberto Dimenstein, Cidade Escola Aprendiz, with community members. Vila Madalena, São Paulo, Brazil, 1997–present


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