Digital Varjão – Cultural Hotspot in Action

Varjão do Torto is a low income settlement area on the outskirts of Brasília, Brazil’s political capital. It neighbors the land where my community is located, and it is full of young people eager to make things happen. This is where I am collaborating in a workshop for the local ‘Ponto de Cultura’ (Cultural Hotspot), a government program sponsored by the Ministry of Culture:

“The cultural hotspot, a program with a budget of R$ 37 millions (£ 9.2 millions), is about democratization, permitting ideas of different places, from rich to poor cities, be exchanged. “The main goal is to plant seeds” says Claudio. A hotspot is established with a broadband connection, infrastructure made with recycled equipments and, most of all, technical workshops of open-source software, allowing anyone to digitalize their creativity. The workshops aim to create independency, leaving on the hands of each community the ownership of their individual process, decentralizing the system. Technology has always been a tool for social inclusion, but here the main objective is not only to make possible the incorporation of labor to the market, but to give people voice, power over their expression, to give them citizenship.”
Cultural Hotspots – Brazilian open-source and

We are just starting, and we still don’t have computers or any other equipment because the NGO coordinating the project suffered some setbacks that victimized its hardware resources. Nevertheless, a borrowed digital camera was enough to set things moving and we are already uploading the results.

Arte-Jovem Drama GroupThe core group is formed by kids who were already participating in a succesfull drama program for children and youth leaded by my good friend Francisco Nunes, and the idea is to empower their use of the Internet as a new form of expression. The results come so fast that we already have links from several uploading experiences currently in development. Here are the recent starts: blog, flickr, youtube.

On this last weekend workshop we had the first opportunity to use some borrowed computers online, and also received wonderfull good news: there is good chance that the group will finally have its own camera! Another good friend, Lou Gold, is supporting the ongoing project with his good ideas, great photo expertise, and also with his big heart. His photo report and quick impressions from our first camera day with the kids follows.

There’s an exciting new project getting started in the neighborhood of Varjão in Brasilia. Jose Murilo, Francisco and friends are teaching the young people in the local drama group how digitize and take their productions online.This day’s lesson was a simple start — learn how use the digital camera, capture some good action shots, load them onto a computer and get to see what you’ve done on the monitor.

Digital Photo WorkshopThese are the first small steps but they are triggering dreams of online blogs, streaming videos, podcasts, and all sorts of music and drama productions on the web. This is how a Brazilian Point of Culture begins.

It is part of a national movement of digital inclusion which aims to expand computer literacy and distribute broadly the benefits and opportunities of the information age.

PhotoReport by Lou Gold.
View slideshow.

We will keep reporting about the experience as soon as new material is generated.