27 June 2012

Change of pace

Something different to keep you happy for the next few weeks while I run to yet another international conference, making sure that my carbon footprint matches my electronic. Pick 'em up and put 'em down, I say.

The above scene is kind of like a forest before being flooded by a hydroelectric plant. The Transcarioca BRT will slice down the middle of this street, sending high speed buses between the international airport and Barra de Tijuca. The street will be widened to 30 meters, and the sidewalk diminished to 1.5 meters on either side. These informal crossings will become even more dangerous. If the BRt is to even approximate its projected capacity, a bus will have to pass in each direction every 30 seconds. There will be no bike lane and the BRT stations are not projected to have bike racks. The BRT will cut this neighborhood in two, forever. No one in the region has much information about the timeframe for implementation and it seems unlikely that the city government will be offering much clarity.

On the same street, Vincente Carvalho, a group of houses was destroyed to make way for the Transcarioca. The city left the rubble in front of the remaining houses and kind of built a barrier to demarcate the limit of the disappropriation. One resident here was fairly livid about the process as she is a renter and had to complete the wall with her own money. In the background to the righ tof the guy on the phone is a sign that reads: ATTENTION: Please don't throw trash. Just beyond him are a series of buildings that will also be destroyed to make way for the BRT, but negotiaions with the business owners have not yet begun.

 Morro da Providencia, Zona Portuária. Though difficult to see, the blue bins belong to the Consorcio Porto Novo, the group responsible for the 5 million square meter gentrification project known as the Porto Maravilha. This trash collection point has been made worse by the installation of a tram line that will link Providencia with the Central rail terminal. According to residents, COMLURB trucks used to make regular collections here but their trucks can no longer access the morro because the street has been blocked by the "public works" teleférico project  - a project that never had any community involvement.

Forced removal on the Morro da Providencia. This rubble was left behind by a housing demolition that occurred after Providencia was occupied by the Military Police. UPPs all over Rio have unleashed a series of polemics ranging from controversial "thinning" projects, massive real-estate speculation, the elimination of popular culture (funk parties), and the opening of relatively closed social and physical spaces to aggressive forces of capital accumulation. The benefits and drawbacks depend on who you ask and which topic you want to treat. The discourse of UPP occupied favelas as being safe and interesting places for tourists to still experience "authenticity" in Rio is given a good run at Rioonwatch while others have been less reflective about the naked advertising of occupied favelas for foreign visitors.

finally, yet another very cool example of Rio's amazing street art

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