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Brazilian Ice Sculptures Encourage Organ Donation via Great Design

São Paulo, Brazil launches a trippy new public art campaign to get residents to donate their organs.

Checking that “Organ Donor” box on forms and papers saves lives, but does it capture the imagination? Beneficência Portuguesa Hospital, in São Paulo, Brazil, recently launched a unique public art campaign to get residents to think of others, and donate their unused organs. The hospital installed a series of “Ice Men,” life-like, frozen statues of figures with visible internal organs, made of resin, that melt away to leave behind a single organ as a memento. These sculptures were created to represent the passage of life into death, the temporality of the human condition, and the ability we have to leave something tangible behind.

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Upcycling Solutions for Political Trash

A Brazilian project provides instructions on how to dismantle campaign signboards and turn them into DIY furniture.

Political campaigns generate all kinds of garbage—fliers, yard signs, empty promises. But at least promises don’t litter the streets long after the races are over. Every year, state institutions, grassroots organizations, and crafty individuals battle the scourge of leftover campaign materials. In Brazil, this past election cycle produced thousands of political sandwich boards that still lie scattered across the country.

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Rag Time

Brazil’s “lookin’ to score” tee is, unfortunately, part of a recent tradition of aberrant apparel.

Earlier this year, in anticipation of the upcoming World Cup, Adidas released a t-shirt featuring a buxom cartoon woman, a soccer ball, and the slogan: “Lookin’ to Score.” The shirt raised hackles in the tournament’s host country of Brazil, where locals, seeing a dehumanizing, oversexed stereotype imposed on Brazilian women once again, did not appreciate the joke. Even Dilma Rousseff, the current (and first female) president of Brazil, felt the need to weigh in, taking to Twitter to condemn the extant culture of sexual exploitation. Adidas recalled the shirt.

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The Professionals

The Brazilian government has built an army of reuse masters, repair geniuses, and recycling experts, and it's paying off.

Much has been made of Brazil’s poorly orchestrated World Cup preparations. Airports went unfinished, stadiums were badly conceived, and power shortages loomed. But while the mind-boggling corruption and inefficiency at the heart of these problems have garnered most of the attention, there has been at least one area of civic life in which the country was prepared to thrive: recycling.

By the time the global sports event ends on July 13, experts estimate that World Cup spectators will generate a staggering 320 tons of trash. Enter the catadores—waste pickers who earn a living by collecting recyclables from the nation’s trash heap, men and women who will dig through the garbage and pick out each aluminum can, plastic bottle, and glass container. And while their jobs may seem humble, their sweat and solidarity are helping to transform Brazil into a true world power in recycling.

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Getting Outside the Classroom in Brazil

São Paulo's journalism school proves that if you can tell a story you can control the world.

São Paulo's journalism school proves that if you can tell a story you can control the world.

When we communicate, we participate in the ongoing characterization of everything around us, allowing us to define our own reality, instead of having it dictated to us by others. Enois, a free journalism school in São Paulo, Brazil, is using this truth to spawn a new generation of cub reporters, teaching them to investigate the world they know, and helping them turn their findings into viable media projects like magazines, newspapers, and video documentaries. For its students, Enois supplements an ailing and underfunded Brazilian school system, providing not only an education in critical thinking, but also an afterschool job: Enois is a business, not an NGO, and its young journalists and designers are paid for their work.

“When they ask questions, everything changes—their posture, the way they think…,” says Nina Weingrill, co-founder of Enois, from her office in sunny downtown São Paulo. “One student came to us, and said ‘OK, I want to write an article about the bad teachers at school, because they suck,’” she remembers, laughing. “And we said, ‘OK, is that true? Do they suck, really? You have to investigate.’ So we asked him to find one teacher he could follow around throughout his whole day, through all the work that he has to do. Well, he saw how much the teacher suffered. From lack of structure, from being paid very low. He realized the scenario was not how he thought it was.”

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Cash for Culture: Brazil Gives Workers $25 a Month to Spend on the Arts

The Brazilian government gives it workers $25 a month to use on culture.

Would this ever happen in America?: This week, Brazil's government announced that they were allocating $25 (50-real) a month to each worker in the country to spend on cultural activities. That means some cash to see movies, go to museums, or buy books, music, or DVDs. "In all developed countries, culture plays a key role in the economy," Culture Minister Marta Suplicy explained in an interview on national television.

The stipend will be given out to workers by their employers in the form of an electronic card, for those making minimum wage to use as they want. The employer will cover 90 percent of the allotment, with the rest paid by the employee, who can opt out of the program if they want. It's at an employer's discretion if they want to also hand out cards to people earning five times the minimum wage, which is approximately $1,700.

This is great news for those without the means to enjoy the rich cultural output the country has to offer. It also means more capital going towards culture, which will help artists, musicians, and other creatives. Here's hoping the U.S. policy makers are listening, even if $25 doesn't go very far these days. It will at least buy the curious minds who can't afford it, a ticket to the movies with some pocket change for popcorn; or even a ticket to the MoMA, which at $20 a pop, would have to be your art fix for the month.

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