7. (2013 October) Video: Mauá Surroundings – Why Poverty?

Below is a link to a video about land speculation in São Paulo. It is part of a video series called Why Poverty?. The group is apparently well funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Ford Foundation and The Skoll Foundation among others. Their approach to producing videos is somewhat novel:

“We’re not a campaigning organisation. We don’t want money. We’re not pushing for a single, specific solution to global poverty.

We do want people to think and ask questions. What is it like to live in poverty? How does it shape you? Why are people still hungry? Why does it matter? What can I do to change the situation?”


Though their strategy is fit for a purpose other than promulgating LVT, there is much we can learn from the way Why Poverty? engages their audience. Rather than offering an immediate answer, they invite their audience to step into the world of the poor, to feel for them and to begin to care about the deeper institutional causes of poverty. Instead of immediately offering the solutions, they tell stories that make people want to find out for themselves. It’s my view that this type of story-telling and a focus on the “why”  is what makes their videos so popular. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Horses, and people for that matter, need to be thirsty before they will drink. Simply inserting the why before the what often conjures such thirst.

“There are 450,000 empty properties São Paulo. A new movement is reclaiming them for families. It’s a battle that pitches people’s rights to homes [more aptly land] against the rights of home owners. If they are lucky enough to have homes, the poor of São Paulo live in cramped conditions, miles from amenities and work. But there are plenty of places to live in the centre of town and hundreds of families have taken over empty and abandoned buildings and founded new communities.

But it’s an action that puts them against the police and the law, as they break in and settle down. ‘The fight will not be done for you. It will be done by you.’ “


Link to video: http://bit.ly/Z6gMh

One may wonder if the approach and branding style of  Why Poverty? was influenced by the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation 2009 film (in partnership with Cinema Libre Studios), The End of Poverty?, and Why Global Poverty?, its companion book.

– Jacob Shwartz-Lucas


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