I finally made it to Curitiba on Saturday afternoon, and spent Saturday and Sunday walking around Curitiba, enjoying some pre-carnaval singing and dancing in the street, and getting more, and more excited about the World Bicycle Forum which begins on Wednesday.
Part of my building excitement came from seeing posters for the forum EVERYWHERE in the city. It seemed like every corner I turned I saw the posters again and again. I’ve been blow away by the outreach effort in the city – there is no way you could live here and not know that this is happening.
And after this building excitement on Saturday and Sunday (without even meeting anyone from the forum!), I was just about over the moon when I went and met some forum folks today. This morning I went down to the Bicicleteria Cultural, the central organizing space for the forum, and began talking to people about the history of the forum and how it’s being organized.
The first two World Bicycle Forum’s were held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a city in the far south. It began in response to the infamous Critical Mass incident where a frustrated driver tore through the peaceful ride, injuring dozens of cyclists. After that incident, cyclists in the community wanted to do something big in response to both bring attention to that horrible event, but also to celebrate everything that is wonderful about the international bike community.
This is now the third annual World Bicycle Forum, and the first time that it is being held in Curitiba. The event is organized in a non-hierarchal, collaborative manner, where anyone who wants to organize can join, and all decisions are made collaboratively. There are various sub-committees in charge of different aspects of the forum. It’s pretty incredible.
So this morning, I showed up to central organizing space and asked if there was anything I could do to help. So I helped fix up some bikes for people to borrow, and helped to destroy this giant trash/art project that needed to be cut down and recycled.
Interestingly, one of the ways that the organizers have been preparing for the forum is by painting huge murals all over the city. In fact, Mona Caron, one of the invited artists from San Francisco, was up on a giant lift working on a huge mural.
Some organizers also directed me to some of the other murals around town to take some pictures. With all this preparation, it feels like the whole momentum of the city is behind this event.
Tonight I’m headed to the last big organizing meeting before the forum starts on Wednesday. I’ll continue to keep you all updated on what’s going on here at the forum. Stay tuned!