GSA: Myrian’s Dream

At the age of six, Myrian Castello watched it on TV: in 2025, the planet’s water will run out; it was a despair.It was necessary to warn the adults.

Adults, they never pay attention to what really matters, so she ran to call a cousin, a peer of her own age; he was her dream partner. Our best dream is always collective. The heart and the imagination of a child, such a child, are not prepared for such news: that the planet will run out of water by 2025. She goes out to make something happen, goes out to postpone the end of the world. The adult arranges a meeting in 15 days, the invitation goes by e-mail.

There wasn’t an adult, she said, even an adult, in those days, who didn’t receive an alarming little card with the news of the near end of the water. And a request: save up, please. They distributed dozens of them, she never forgot that, more than two decades later, she told me.

Myrian explains that it was the first time she dreamed and made it come true in this life, then came many others. Like that time she invented an Anti Stress product to gift her father, there was even a production line that involved a bladder and some kind of flour. This business of dreaming and bringing things to the world was just her way, it didn´t work out, she fell into Engineering. It was there that she learned how things work, came out knowing more about the workings of herself and with a decision: “I want to give the dream back to people”.

It’s just that almost everything in college was so different from what it could be, that she couldn’t find herself there. We have to be present to be able to dream. Then she found out that almost nobody found themselves, it was such a waste of life. Why those long classes, without any connection with the people, when we could learn how gears work by watching a sugarcane broth cart? And then still have a drink and the over pour of it. Everything got worse for the better when Myrian met GSA Program, the Cooperative Games: “For the first time I didn’t feel alone in the world. I found my community.

It could not have had another name, an organization that was born from her restlessness and from her various friends found along that path: Factory of Dreams.  There was a class, once, in which Myrian described it as a trip to hell, when she came across a hot place, which came out on fire from everywhere: it was a truck company, she was traumatized. Hence the reason for being a factory now too, but of another kind: the one that make us born again.

The dream is important because it brings the right to exist. It helps you getting out of some places, get moving. It’s about inviting people to go wherever they want, imagining those places,” she summarizes. It happened to her when she left college, she was welcomed by her parents in her decision; they understood that Myrian’s heart was not in the classroom; she wanted to dedicate herself to that now, to make people dream again. She truely felt herself when she discovered that dreaming is already a habit of many people out there. Those people she met in the GSA  Warriors.

From 2016 to now, Myrian runs the Dream Factory, a place to dream with ethics and love. “We work for dreams that do not hurt other people.” Now she wants to put dreaming within the Brazilian Constitution: “It is a human right, the State needs to guarantee conditions so that all people can dream and realize their dreams. At the Factory we work for that”, she defends. Each person dreams in a particular way, but there are some conditions that favor the birth of dreaming people and environments. Myrian highlights some of them:

“To dream, we need basic needs met. If you are in a safe environment, with food every day, you feel confident taking other steps,” it was the first tip. “To dream, we need to have inspirations around, something or someone that we can see is possible, already see happening,” the second, which relates to the third point in some way: cheerleaders.

Those who dream presume to have people who believe around them”. It is the one who stimulates, encourages. It’s someone who will always be happy with your progress, but will also ask: what can I do to help you getting there faster? She details.”Everyone has had someone looking at you with a frown on their face when you tell them about a dream; it takes away your energy right away.

Everything up to this point is important, but the most important thing is now: “When we get to a community, we always find someone who is in the key of scarcity, you know. It happens because this person has already received many no’s in life, dreaming has become too distant for her”, Myrian explains. “We need to blow out the ember that is almost dying out.

the importance of collective participation in community work

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This article was translated by Antonio Oliveira, a volunteer participant in the Translation Community at Instituto Elos.

Simone Weil, a French philosopher who studied worker uprooting, presents three uprooting elements present in the experience of her work in the factory: fear, tiredness and subjection. these same elements can be perceived in the community experience.

Uprooting, explains Eclea Bosi, a social psychologist who coordinated the Laboratory of Memory and Oral History Simone Weil at the University of São Paulo, is the “ignorance of the worker in relation to the fate of the things he manufactures”. that is, when a person finds himself fragmented, alienated from his own history, from his reality, from his destiny, he is uprooted.

since 2014 I work in the area of ​​community development at Instituto Elos. the experience in a project spurred me to deepen some reflections and I decided to do a master’s degree in the field of social psychology to seek answers to my concerns. residents of Residencial Jardim Bassoli, Campinas, São Paulo, brought testimonies about the processes of leaving the old house and arriving at the residential, which demonstrated the existence of those uprooting factors described by Simone Weil. the 2380 families that lived in the neighborhood were removed from their former homes with the allegation that they lived in risk areas – threatened by floods, flooding, etc.

the subjection was experienced by these people when the government knocked on the door and warned: “you will have to leave”, with no space for dialogue or understanding of the reasons for the obligation of having to move to a new neighborhood, completely unknown, to live side by side, above or below also unknown people coming from several other neighborhoods of the city.

was felt due to commuting for more than two hours between the workplace and home, considering the 23 kilometers that separate Jardim Bassoli from the center of Campinas and the lack of bus lines and integration terminals.

fear was present from the way people were treated since the beginning of the removal process: a number.

each family was counted as one of the two thousand three hundred and eighty families, whether in one of them there are two people, three or seven. whether in one of them there is a mother with a newborn baby, or a lady in a wheelchair.

reification, which is the transformation of people into objects, turns human dramas into numbers. just as the female worker is just one unit in the work force of Simone Weil’s studies. “We don’t count, it barely exists,” she wrote. the resident doesn’t count either, she barely exists. it’s just a number.

a community development project carried out in this type of territory, where people have gone through an intense experience of being uprooted, needs to have the sensitivity to promote attentive listening, because before starting to dream about the future, it is necessary to listen, listen, listen and invite people to share their stories in collective listening spaces. it is important for residents to recognize that they are not just a number. that they are part of a group of people who have gone through the same experiences.

as community meetings take place, and people feel welcomed and belong, it is possible to start building a shared vision of the future for the new neighborhood.

a first point that needs to be highlighted is: when participating in community meetings, residents discover that they are not alone, that there are other people, their neighbors, who also want to get moving to transform the community:

“Wow, after the square effort happened, that motivated me to do much more. It’s not just there that you need it, there are other places, there are other things to do. So we think like this: ‘wow, that place is so abandoned’ if we wait for the public body, the city hall to come and do it, but they’re going to do it poorly, so it’s better for us to go there and do it. There you go, post it in the group, see who is available to help and such, there is always someone available. ‘So, let’s do it?’, ‘Let’s do it!’” That’s cool, right?! That part that it’s not just you who looks that way, there are many more people who see it the same way you do. And he likes the place he lives and wants to see it differently.”

Fabiana, resident of Jardim Bassoli

Another important point to emphasize is the development of self-confidence through group activities. when the resident realizes that her project can work, that she is not alone, she feels safe, even to talk and tell more people about the activities she is carrying out:

 “I remember when you were in that first square you said: ‘Renata, are we going to do an interview?’ Then I said: [she shakes her head negatively], but it’s because of shyness, really, right?! But today I can already talk a little about us, about our project, it’s just beginning, you know, but our dreams are coming true.”

Renata, resident of Jardim Bassoli

 the friendly relationships that develop and strengthen from community meetings and collective activities transform people’s lives and the place where they live.

 “When I saw it I said ‘hey, I’ll help’. I felt like helping, to do my best in the few days I could help. I am very grateful to the project for looking at us and having this positive view of the neighborhood. There are many people who look at Jardim Bassoli as a negative place, but not me. I’ve lived here for five years and I always try to look on the positive side. Until now it’s the place I have to live and if one day I leave here I want to remember it as a good place. I met a lot of good people here during the joint effort: the talent team, even my neighbors that we had no affinity with. I gained a lot of friends through the project.”

Idrenio, resident of Jardim Bassoli

according to researcher José Moura Gonçalves Filho (2003, p. 223, emphasis added): “friendship represents equality and, more precisely, partnership in equality.” this notion of friendship reveals “the need we have for community coexistence to grow in the experience of being rooted in the world” (SVARTMAN; GALEÃO-SILVA, 2016, p. 341).

community, therefore, presupposes egalitarian neighborhood relations, the feeling of political friendship, when different people meet on an equal basis, and experience practices that encourage collective action. Simone Weil reports the experience of the strike at the factory and talks about the joy she and the other workers experienced:

 “Yes, a joy. (…) What a joy to enter the factory with the smiling permission of a worker who was guarding the door. The joy of encountering so many smiles, so many words of fraternal welcome. (…) The joy of saying what’s in your heart to everyone, bosses and colleagues, in those places where two workers could work for months at a time, side by side, without either of them knowing what the neighbor was thinking. (…) Finally, for the first time, and forever, there will be other memories floating around these heavy machines, and not just that of silence, oppression, submission. Memories that put a little pride in the heart, that will leave a little warmth on top of all that metal.” (WEIL, 1979, p. 106)

community participation experiences contribute to coping with feelings of subjection, fear and tiredness and to promoting feelings of joy, encouraging rooting, characterized by the French philosopher as:

“(…) the most important and most unknown need of the human soul and one of the most difficult to define. The human being is rooted in his real, active and natural participation in the existence of a collectivity that keeps alive certain treasures of the past and certain forebodings of the future.” (WEIL, 2001, p. 43). 

the phrase repeated insistently in several community meetings “unity makes strength” is not just a speech, it is an action, and it is collective.

The transformation of the Jardim Bassoli residence into a community took place through the participation of residents in collective actions, when they decided to take root in this place and fight to make it the best place to live, not only for them, but for all people who live there.

bibliographic references:

BOSI, Ecléa. O Tempo Vivo da Memória: Ensaios de Psicologia Social. São Paulo: Ateliê Editorial, 2003.  

GONÇALVES FILHO, José Moura. Problemas de método em Psicologia Social: algumas notas sobre a humilhação política e o pesquisador participante. In: BOCK, Ana Mercês Bahia. (Org.), Psicologia e compromisso social. São Paulo: Cortez, 2003. 

SVARTMAN, Bernardo Parodi. & GALEÃO-SILVA, Luís Guilherme. Comunidade e resistência à humilhação social: desafios para a psicologia social comunitária. Revista Colombiana de Psicologia. Bogotá. v.25, n.2, p. 331-349, 2016. 

WEIL, Simone. O enraizamento. Bauru, SP: EDUSC, 2001. 

A condição operária e outros estudos sobre a opressão. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1979.

Clarissa Borges is GSA Warrior 2012. holds a degree in Social Communication from the Federal University of Santa Maria (2010), a master’s degree in Social Psychology from the University of São Paulo (2021). since 2014 I work as a social mobilizer and facilitator of groups in community development projects. in my free time I use embroidery to rest my mind and as a tool to fight in feminist and anti-racist militancy and for LGBTQIAP+ visibility.

Mirian Fonseca: when we access an edict, we don’t have to get everything right at first

This article was translated by Izadora Silva, a volunteer participant in the Translation Community at Instituto Elos.

By saying that, Mirian points out a request for care and welcoming from the funders with whom it is at the beginning of its journey in the world of projects. 2019 GSA Warrior, she is from Lauro de Freitas and currently lives in Salvador, Bahia. She is one of the eight supported by Young Ideas in 2023.

When the Elos Institute ran a survey with the GSA Community, which is how we call those who went through some edition of GSA Warriors, it discovered, among many things, it was necessary to support more closely, ideas that it was inspired by the Elos Philosophy in some way, that sprang among the more than 600 participants from all around the world.

Most of these ideas faced the challenge of funding, whether because it was in the initial phase, or because of the complexity of the language of the edicts.

More than supporting a one-off action or a project in the GSA leadership community, Young Ideas is the search for a safe environment in which people can test their hypotheses of transformation. That is, technical and financial support to research, elaborate, design, test, make mistakes if necessary, in search of the best versions of a project.

We want to encourage the development of emerging social technologies. And we can’t do that without a support network. This is the case with Mirian’s work.

“When I left the GSA, I drew my Path of Expansion thinking about how to use the Elos Methodology to draw a theatrical spectacle or artistic creation processes,” she explains. She holds a degree in Theater Direction from the Theater School of the Federal University of Bahia and she has at least 11 years of experience in community mobilization and development of collaborative projects.

She thought that it would be possible, of course, to use what she learned in other contexts, and that was how the Creation Laboratory was born, an initiative that uses the dimensions of the Elos Methodology (Potential, Belonging and Protagonism) to map resources, talents and dreams focusing on the restructuring and institutional repositioning of cultural collectives. The pilot project, supported by the so-called Young Ideas, will be held with the oCartel, a group of black artists from the peripheries of Salvador.

“When we ask what are the dreams of a group, we can map what we need to ask for in an edict, for example,” says Mirian. Who thus points out a little of how she intends to sew the relationship of the Elos Philosophy with the Creation Laboratory.

“Many times we can’t even have a close look at our network,” she says. One of the initiative stages is precisely this investigation of talents and resources that are close, and that we barely trigger in our daily lives.

The linear and often distant way of investigating, organizing and structuring collective powers leaves the scene, to enter another way of addressing institutional challenges, especially in cultural collectives. A more horizontal, a more collective way. In addition to supporting the group to advance to another moment of its existence and its work, the Creation Laboratory – Cartel Edition foresees a series of artistic deliveries.

Inspiring and very powerful, Mirian’s project is one of 8 proposals supported by the Elos Institute in 2023. In addition to the Creation Laboratory, Young Ideas supports the Knowledge of the People of Remanso (Lençóis, BA), Co-creating TRANSformations (Campinas, SP), Associates Actions (São Vicente, SP), Quilombo GSA – Tereza de Benguela (national), Coloring the Quebrada with Poetry (national), Museum of Living Dreams (Recife, PE) and the Weekend in the Park (Cubatão, SP).

Jully Neves: The power of initiatives in promoting diversity and inclusion

This article was translated by Izadora Silva, a volunteer participant in the Translation Community at Instituto Elos.

The origin of the word utopia is Greek and means “no place”. In other words, a place that does not exist. When I see this definition, I remember the time when my dream was to transform the world. I wanted to be a person who could make history. I thought about it for years, even though I’ve never mentioned it to anyone. Today I think differently. Why did I change my mind, did that dream no longer exist? There, deep down, it still exists, but today it’s different. It transmuted.

I understood that only through collective utopia can become reality.

When we talk about diversity, inclusion, human rights, equality and other related topics, utopia is the idealization of a world in which these values are an intrinsic part of society.

A fair world, where all people are valued and respected regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion or any other characteristic.

It is from this idea that we can think of a better future and work collectively to achieve it.

The community is an important bond in the fight for inclusion and equality. Through dialogue and cooperation, it is possible to promote initiatives that allow the opening and expansion of discussions on important and fundamental topics to guarantee a more fair and equal society. 

These communities can be formed by NGOs, collectives and companies, which come together for a common cause. The role of these organizations is fundamental because they can give visibility to issues related to diversity and create commitment in society in favor of these guidelines.

Each person has a fundamental role to play, either through daily attitudes, or through commitment in social movements, private and public organizations, among other places. Yes, it’s hard work, but it’s worth it, as it translates into a better world for all people. 

As for diversity, inclusion and belonging. We can conceptualize it as follows: diversity is the representation of different people, inclusion is ensuring that all people have opportunities, and belonging is guarantee that all people feel safe and valued. But, how to promote diversity, inclusion and belonging in companies, through laws, among other places and actions? 

Diversity and inclusion must be seen as an advantage and wealth.

In order to promote and adopt real changes in places, it is necessary for decision-makers to use literacy, that is, training, lectures and mentoring, and through informative manuals. As well as representative participation in management positions, opportunities, and fair remuneration.

A welcoming organizational culture is one that values and respects people, offering a safe and comfortable work environment.

When people feel welcomed, they tend to be more committed and productive, in addition to staying longer in those places. A specific department to deal with guidelines related to diversity and inclusion is essential to promote these guidelines. These are some ways to promote diversity and inclusion.

It is necessary that people are open to dialogue and willing to learn from differences. There must also be a culture of empathy and respect for differences, understanding that each person is unique and has their particularities. Conflicts are inevitable, but there are ways to deal with them consciously and constructively.

The world will be a much better place if we manage to live in a fair and truly egalitarian society. Unfortunately, the reality is different, and prejudice and discrimination still affect many people in the world. The search for a fairer world is a commitment that must be shared by all people and will only be possible with actions and concrete measures that promote inclusion and equality.

The initiative through the community to break with labels, prejudices and fear opens up opportunities for us to build our utopias together for a fair, prosperous and solidary world for all people.

Phew, glad utopias exist.

This article is from Jully Neves, GSA Warrior 2017. She is from Recife, capital of Pernambuco State, in Northeastern Brazil. She practices archery and Chinese boxing, passionate about beach and mush. She is a black, LGBTQI+, neuroatypical, peripheral and northeastern woman. She has a bachelor’s degree in administration, Human Rights and a certification in Agile Methodologies. She works as a consultant in Diversity and Inclusion and management of social projects.She is GSA Warrior 2017. Translated by Izadora Silva.