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Possibilities for Resilient Grassroots Urban Planning: strategies used by a neighborhood movement in Belo Horizonte, Brazil
1  Msc. International Cooperation and Urban Development (candidate)
2  Architecture Diploma Architecture and Urbanism (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil)


The paper tries to answer the following question: In response to environmental injustice, what are the strategies used by peripheral neighborhoods to propose and implement resilient grassroots urban planning? A case study in Belo Horizonte, Brazil will present what can be learnt from bottom up initiatives that react to everyday life shocks caused by environmental degradation. Ribeiro de Abreu is a low income peripheral neighborhood in Belo Horizonte, located on the banks of the Onça River, one of the most important water courses in the city. Although still maintained in its natural course, the river is highly polluted an degraded, in contrast with the environmental quality of high income parts of the city. In response to the neglecting of the river and its surroundings by the municipal government, a strong neighborhood movement has been organizing a series of socio-environmental activities and advocating for the implementation of a linear park on the riverbank, followed by the cleaning of the water. The analysis of this case study is an on-going research based on semi-structured interviews with activists, local residents and municipality staff. So far, it has been noticed that urban social movements propose and implement grassroots resilient planning through a two-folded strategy: putting the government under pressure and organizing self-built improvements in the surrounding environment. Also, resilience is achieved through partnerships with the municipality, professionals and universities, connecting local and technical knowledge and allowing the access to resources. Finally, activists and local residents have a holistic and systemic perception of the causes and possible solutions for the environmental degradation of the river and its surroundings.

Keywords: grassroots urban planning; environmental justice; resilience