If they want to build a prison in your neighborhood – just plant a forest.

Suppose you lived in a beautiful neighborhood of Sao Paulo, and you learn that the City has decided it’s the ideal location to build a new prison. What do you do? Complain endlessly about how wrong this is? Or take a creative action: plant a forest on the lot, knowing they can’t cut it down.


This was exactly the brilliant citizen activism of a small group in Vila Magdalena, who started their forest 20 years ago. Preferring to remain anonymous, the early members of this action meet each weekend to tend and increase their plantings. Now the City has become a partner, giving some small measure of help.


Neighbors get to know one another while they learn about Nature with their children. One of the people who has done a large part of the work is now paid as a gardener, rather than just receiving poverty benefits.


What can we learn from this?

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