I was questioning before how the streets were home for the people who dwell in them, and I definitely see how now. In the streets, people work for their work. They will come to you. And it’s fruitful that way. In Brazil, people are constantly budgeting, so they do not want to spend their money very easily. But sooner or later, a need will strike, or someone will just be able to convince you that you need something. And when that happens, the workers are ready. They are wherever people pause and wherever they pass, and they are strategic. They walk up and down the beach, offering snacks and drinks and beachwear. They are always present at street events, be it shows, protests, celebrations, parties, or any gathering they see opportunity in. They practice the amount of time they can perform at street lights so that they’ll get out of the way in time, as well as what makes their advertisement funny or credible or just stand out. Cars and cyclists announce the things they are selling/buying so even people in houses can here them advertising. And sometimes, cyclists just mind their business with their deliveries. The streets are definitely where the people work.
The streets can also stand for various methods. Sometimes there is not a lot for people to work with in terms of personal aesthetics and they’ll stick with their many times beautiful streets, as well as their many times poorly maintained streets. But every once in a while, you witness streets that have been decorated in different ways with the resources they have, even if it’s unconventional. It often adds a lot of character and works really well. But even if they aren’t perfectly beautiful, the streets are rather functional. Throughout the streets are countless bus stops, metro stops, taxis, and bike ways, besides the cars of course. Although I actually did catch some ‘sharrows’ on my trips, the ones that tell cars to generally “share the road” with bicycles, I saw other very interesting methods, such as one of having pedestrians share paths with bicycles. I feel like that decision is definitely safer for bikes, although I’m not entirely sure how it goes for pedestrians. I never witnessed any pedestrians getting hurt, but I did catch some cyclists, who would opt for the road anyway, getting in close to impact. Maybe they found it faster that way. Either way, you could identify a lot from just walking on a sidewalk.
The streets are definitely where people exercise, albeit it within limits for some. People run, bike and roller blade for sure, but they can also rely workout parks, both formally and informally constructed, as well as repeating workout stops along the beach. At first glance, one feels like the beach can also be a site of sport games for the public, as there are people all along playing volleyball, soccer, and “fut-vole” ( a mix between the two games). However, it is soon noticeable that not everyone might be able to afford to be in those places. Many bus lines that go from the poorer areas of the city to the beach areas have been recently moved, so the people with a bit more money have more access to buses. Most of the volleyball nets are paid for to those who set them up, or are set up mainly to be used for children’s programs. Even the bathrooms at the beach require a paid fee to be used. So the beaches, although they have a lot to offer, might be challenging to stay in for some people.
Then there are necessities that might be more difficult or taboo to perform outdoors. Places to sleep
do not seem to be addressed at all, although sleep on the street evidently happens. For this reason, many unsupervised parks become sleeping or resting areas, and the public grows less comfortable using them. This is the case with the Ipanema Girl Park. I have seen a few people drag mattresses with them a few times, as well as make beds out of comfortable nooks. In a similar way, I have also seen people use park fountains for showers, sometimes with even soap and water. Some people use bottles of water to wash their children. But what does seem to be common design are fraldarios, which are outdoor diaper changing stations, which can be helpful for any parent on the street. People take care of their clothes outside too, drying them out where they can. A few times I saw movements where people created dedicated ‘walls of kindness’, equipped with hooks for hanging, and one with even shelves for books, boxes for shoes, and plastic for protection from the rain. In these places the motto is “leave if you want, take if you need”. When it gets colder, I imagine many could find comfort with these. And, always, people request food. They will happily take anything you want to give them, even if it’s half eaten. Perhaps these needs are being addressed outdoors, and much more creatively than I have ever seen, but because of the extents the needs go to, I can see how some basic investments can make these citizens more comfortable in their challenging conditions.