Archive for the ‘Latin America’ Category

Art Teaches Kids about Poverty

Why should we teach our children about global poverty and its challenges? Did you know half the world’s children live on less than $2 a day? (UN Human Development Report, 2011). And, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an astounding 22% of American children– 15.7 million–  are considered poor. (Kids Count data book, 2012).*

The topic of poverty is relevant to Texas “essential knowledge and skills” in a broad range of courses such as: economics, geography, government, history and culture. And, beyond the facts, it is essential that we empower our next generation of problem solvers with comprehension, compassion, and critical thinking about sustainability at home and in the developing world.

Click on this image of Rocinha to read about
the Origins of the Favela (RioOnWatch.org)

Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin, Texas is a new collaboration in development that will use art to create an interactive stage for learning. The next major installation of Brazilian artist Werllayne Nunes, planned for early 2014, will create a “life-sized” rendering of a portion of the favela, or shantytown. Approximately a dozen original oil paintings, an actual favela dwelling, documentary film, and other media will serve as resources for local educators.  Middle and high school students will have a unique opportunity to learn not only about Brazil but also about the broader social and economic challenges of living in informal settlements.

The educational component of the project is made possible through partnership with Public Engagement office of the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS), University of Texas at Austin. LLILAS Public Engagement is dedicated to supporting Latin America-related K-12 education. As partner to the Favela project, Public Engagement will consult teachers on appropriate topics for classroom inclusion, create standards-based curriculum units that offer an in-depth understanding of poverty and development issues, provide training and gather resources for teachers. One to two student groups per week will visit the art installation over a three-month period reaching roughly 1,000 area middle and high school students.

Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin integrates art with education on a diverse range of topics. This means of engaging students in creative learning aims to raise awareness, challenge stereotypes, and create empathy. Not only is using art in education innovative, but it also has proven positive effects on children’s academic, social, cultural, and cognitive development.

Research performed by the Arts Education Partnership and others has demonstrated the power of art in education to develop skills and abilities such as:

  • Creativity, imagination and innovation
  • Problem solving and critical thinking
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Academic achievement
  • School, social and civic engagement (Arts Education Partnership)

A possible lesson plan, for example, might encourage high school students to role-play and go through group problem-solving exercises to develop solutions to specific challenges of living in a favela. Another lesson might explore the rich cultural production of the favela, especially in music, and the role arts-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have played to empower youth in these communities.

In addition to school outreach, Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin will engage the community by partnering with local organizations to stage concurrent Brazil-related cultural events. The art show will remain open to the public during normal gallery hours. Austin-based social enterprise The Global Good will undertake the role of fundraising and project coordination.

While the installation itself is planned for early 2014, a number of related events or workshops, such as a possible Master Class in painting for at-risk teens, are under discussion for the interim.

For more information about the Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin project, contact  <info@theglobalgood.com>.

——-

*Poverty is defined by the U.S. government by income. The poverty level for 2012 was set at $23,050 (total yearly income) for a family of four.

Advertisements

All things being (more) equal, we’re happier people.

I recently viewed the video “How Economic Inequality Harms Societies“.  Here Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level, explains how gaps in income distribution hurt societies.

The bigger the gap between the rich and the poor, the bigger society’s problems. Conversely, the more homogeneous a people are, in terms of income, the greater the well-being and happiness in the society.

And, according to Wilkinson, the determining factor for social well-being is not how rich or poor a given society is overall. Rather, it’s how similar the individuals in the population are to one another in terms of the distribution of wealth.

It would stand to reason, by this argument, that what we need to increase well-being is not more money per se. We need to close the gap between the rich and the poor. Continue reading

What’s your bright idea?

Okay, I stole that line from the campaign for the 2012 IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest.  The contest launched yesterday on 2/15/2012 and is co-sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank.

If you have the best idea(s) for access to renewable energy and energy efficiency in Latin America and the Caribbean, you may be awarded up to $200,000! Feeling inspired yet?

Of course, the $200k is to fund implementing your idea and comes with technical and business support to make your bright idea happen.

The deadline for applications is April 30, 2012.


Have you heard of Rio+20?

The big event of 2012 is this June at Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, where:

World leaders along with thousands of participants from the private sector, NGOs and other groups will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet,” according to the conference’s Secretary General, Sha Zukang.

The thematic focus for the event is the green economy, poverty alleviation, and global policies for sustainable development.

But here’s the rub: Continue reading

I got mine…?

Last month (January 2012) the Inter-American Development Bank attempted to answer the question:

Does Inequality Breed Altruism or Selfishness?

The answers are based on data about Brazil’s redistributive programs, also known as cash transfer programs.

One conditional cash transfer program in Brazil is called Bolsa Familia Continue reading

Twittering for Good

Check out CGAP’s latest on the power of Twitter to “change the world with 140 characters”:

http://microfinance.cgap.org/2012/01/30/changing-the-world-with-140-characters/

Twitter can be a powerful communication tool when people need instant information or want to inspire others to immediate action. Continue reading