Climate Change Needs Behavior Change

Organization Name: 
Canteiros Coletivos

Entry Overview

We are a socio-environmental business created by a group of people who uses planting and art to recover and improve green living spaces in Salvador, capital of Bahia, Brazil. Since 2012, we have developed projects, workshops and emotional and sensorial experiences that engage community members and prepare them to share with others the responsible management of public green spaces.
General Information
First Name: 
Last Name: 
Didonê Sanches
Organization type: 
  • Other
Email Address:
R. Marujos do Brasil, 2 (casa, fundos), Nazaré
Salvador, Bahia
12° 58' 55.1064" S, 38° 30' 34.812" W
Sectors impacted: 
  • Land use and ecosystems
Community type: 
  • Urban
Population impacted: 
Around 4,000 people
Context Analysis
Describe the context in which you are operating: 
Salvador continuous urbanization devastates green lands and doesn’t contemplate an effective urban afforestation plan. Its most important bioma (Mata Atlântica) and its areas of sand dunes and restingas are essential to balance the local climate. The city’s watershed is almost 100% located under the streets, resulting in flooding and waste strewn through the city and several beaches during the heavy rains. Salvador still has large parks conserving residual forests, but also threatened by housing invasions. Around 30 low-income neighborhoods don’t have any planted trees on the sidewalks. And who lives on the slopes is prone to lose their homes - or lives - to landslides in the heavy winter rains. Contrary to country legislation, the city has still not adopted a waste management plan which contemplates garbage selective collection, mixing tons of material in the same place. That explain, in part, why irregular garbage points occupy urban places that should be used as green living areas
Describe the technical solution you wanted the target audience to adopt: 
We want to encourage groups of people in different neighborhoods to transform abandoned green spaces into a local garden, a square or a land to plant trees, organic food and natural medicine. In general, we have a population disconnected of the streets, and that’s why the city is losing its green living spaces to the private constructions. But people needs to be outdoors, connected with nature and feeling free and happy. So, why not use, transform and co-create green living spaces with planting, art and recreation? With a simple solution, we inspire a lot of people to act in accordance with their values and turn their dreams real. To engage people, we create outdoors workshops, sharing ideas about plants, urban art, urbanism and other knowledge that help us to reflect how city works. We’ll also create a partnership with the local government to improve actions connected with the local public policy of adoption of squares, but ensuring the involvement of the local community.
Type of intervention implemented (category descriptions)
Select all that apply: 
  • Emotional appeals
  • Social incentives
  • Choice architecture
Describe your behavioral intervention: 
We inspire people to transform abandoned green spaces - in general used as irregular garbage points - into places to relax, produce food, make art and have fun. Canteiros Coletivos was the forerunner urban movement in the city of Salvador that mobilize people from different neighborhood through the internet to plant and paint in public spaces for six years. We believe that our actions change behaviors bringing consciousness about the role and responsibilities of citizens. Since our birth, in 2012, we realized the anonymous planting of seedlings in various spaces of the city, the emergence of groups now using abandoned lands to produce food, or recovering and transforming squares. Over the last six years, we: realized one-year project with outdoors workshops planting and painting in two communities, we organized more than 200 interventions in public spaces, we were interviewed in 20 local and national media reports, we gave interviews about urban afforestation side by side with the local secretary of sustainable city, we were characters in two published books, our workshops to children circulated in at least 30 editions of fairs of art and culture, we developed two professional gardening and art-recycling courses to homeless groups (in partnership with a government program), we were theme to monographs, master's and doctoral projects, we made lectures at universities, companies and events and we were present to more than 10 neighborhoods.
As needed, please explain the type of intervention in more detail.: 
People need to connect to the city and nature. People need to feel free and happy. When people act as a group to co-create a green living space, they assume themselves as real citizens at the same time that they are creating an affective relationship between each other and to the space that they are recovering. When this feeling appears, no one wants the space comes back to be what it was before. People get much more sensitive to take care of the place and, through their attitude, they encourage others to do the same. Even people who use to say "this will not work because no one will respect" end up participating in the process. Sometimes, the real experience is needed to understand the possible transformation.
Describe your implementation: 
We developed outdoors workshops to put people direct in contact to the green living areas that need to be transformed. On these workshops we share knowledges about permaculture, waste, right to the city, communication, gardening, ecology, always encouraging people to experience these practices & replicate at home or on the street. We also offer free content on the internet & try to spread successful examples of recovering spaces through interviews and articles on our website.In the beginning of Canteiros Coletivos, people that wanted an experience with us used to ask if we had permission to clean and plant in public spaces. Today, they ask us how to grow plants & motivate other people to plant in the public space. When we initiated the activities we were invited for meetings with three secretaries of the local government to explain how we were attracting people to the streets. Over the years, we have noticed several government actions of planting in communities. Until today, we receive lots of emails & phone calls requesting actions & partnership in different neighborhoods, schools, companies, & institutions. People want to plant, more & more, but need to know how to do it. In the beginning, we used to make a joint effort to gather gardening supplies, carpool, water and everything needed for an intervention. Then, from 2013 to 2014, we got funding to run free outdoor workshops for a year, and we gathered about 30 people at each meeting to develop permaculture and artistic practices in the public space of two communities. A good partnership with people and institutions is important to develop strong actions and make more people embrace the idea. Constant communication is also a very important tool to spread the idea. Our obstacles are always the resources to maintain the activities regularly. We need to capitalize on workshops and products to generate resources and income and alto to partner with NGOs to enter projects in public notices and get funding.
External connections: 
Instituto de Permacultura da Bahia – NGO, first partner, helped us to get fund for a one-year project. Escritório Modelo de Arquitetura da UFBA – Group of students of the course of architecture & urbanism of the federal university. Invited us to initiate a work together in the community of Gantois. Cine Teatro Solar Boa Vista – Cultural public equipment of the state of Bahia. Inserted us in the community of Engenho Velho de Brotas & created external cultural events to value our actions in the Solar Park Boa Vista. Bairro Escola Rio Vermelho – Local Project in the neighborhood of Rio Vermelho, developed by the NGO Cipó – Comunicação Interativa, that realized festivals to recover an abandoned square. SER – NGO, always try to connect us with good opportunities. Is led by people that really believe in our positive impact to the city. Where There be Dragons – Experimental education company. Connected students from the Brige Year Program (Princeton) to volunteering in our actions. Programa Corra pro Abraço - Damage reduction program of the state government of Bahia that called us to develop courses with.homeless people. Instituto Limpa Brasil – NGO from São Paulo that is acting in Salvador. It’s our institutional partner in our new project gardening with public schools. Fundo Socioambiental Casa – NGO, our new funder to the project with the schools. Nonstop – Strategic design agency for small and emerging creative businesses. Has been offering us mentorship.
Who adopted the desired behaviors and to what degree?: 
Dozens of one-year workshops participants went on to connect more closely with seedling breeding at home or at their building. One of our direct followers recovered a place with his neighborhood in Nordeste de Amaralina. And other follower recovered a little space in the Gamboa community. Unfortunately we never had how to do a research about these data. Since the beginning of this year, we mapped about 5 green living spaces created & transformed in the city of Salvador. It’s an independent initiative of mapping .The local government had reactivated the square adoption program, set up an itinerant gardening school and began to develop plantations in communities and degraded spaces. Teachers from different schools already sent us photos of their actions with their students in our activities in the public spaces. Local and national (Rede Globo/Discovery Home and Health) media interviewed us to know more about transforming the city by recovering green living spaces.
How did you impact natural resource use and greenhouse gas emissions?: 
Reusing discarded materials in public space: woods saw fences, metal plaques seen message boards, fan propeller turns decoration, organic material turned compound. Always planting new plants and trees: We have planted at least 4,000 seedlings. All the trees that we planted in 2012 are today facilitating the absorption of water by the soil. We are encouraging people to produce and consume some plants at home, avoiding to buy it in a plastic bag. We encourage people to consume organic or vegan fairs. We create different gardening products by using discarded recipients donated by common people. We encourage people to have a compost bin at home and make their own compost through organic food scraps. We value the child's contact with nature and we create workshops to encourage them to be planters since early life. We have already held workshops with more than 400 babies and children. Our nursery of seedlings provides plants for actions in public areas of the city since 2013.
What were some of the resulting co-benefits?: 
Community: A closer rapport with two communities has helped us realize that project continuity is essential for best results. We learned to seek good local partnerships that connect us with locals. Security: The spaces in which we make intervention are greener, more pleasant and invite people to plant new seedlings. This vital movement causes the fear of hostility to gradually be annihilated. Biodiversity: We worked with a diversity of native plants of the Atlantic Forest, also encouraging the planting of fruit trees and edible plants. We see today the result in the fruit trees that have been planted by the two communities exactly in the spaces where we hold our workshops. Sustainable development: The reproduction of seedlings, the production of organic fertilizer, the reuse of residues were the constant themes of our workshops. Today we see less trash in the spaces, more use for plantations, the recognition of public lands as spaces for food production & the participation of the community
Replication and Scale
Today we area a socio-environmental business that offers workshops to adults and children and we have partners that helps us to get funds to new projects. We are trying to be completely sustained by our solution since 2017.
Return on investment: 
If we talk about our projects with funding, in the first, we have been able to hold 80 free workshops in one-year project for about 1200 people in two urban communities in the city of Salvador. We received R $ 164 thousand from the Oi Futuro Institute through the Oi Novos Brasis. We recovered two important spaces in poor communities, and we had the presence of people who lived there for years and never had the experience of planting in their place. We must add that the spaces are cleaner than before and that people around started to plant food and tree fruit after experience our workshops. Other important observation is that people from distant neighborhoods participated with us in the same workshops.
How could we successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?: 
A way of replicating our solution is reproducing the methodology of our intervention workshops in the public spaces. Are them: Gardening, Ecology. Communication, Urban Art. In addition, it is possible to reproduce and distribute our basic manual of urban intervention for people who wish to begin the transformation of a green living area. We also produced tutorial videos of some practices and could perfectly produce new editions. To a new project we desire to realize at least 40 workshops in different communities of Salvador during one year. Key Stakeholders/partners: SER, Limpa Brasil, Oak Foundation, Fundo Socioambiental Casa, Instituto Oi Futuro, editorial/publish company. We need: gardening supplies (soil, fertilizer, plants) gardening tools painting materials mobile phones for video and photo production paints and sprays transport designer/social media/press communication A GOOD TEAM!

Contest Partners

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Contest Sponsors

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Humanize Institute