Instituto ElosJune 16, 2009 Leave a comment
When was the last time you heard an Executive Director talk about dreaming and mean it? I don’t mean to be cynical, and I do in fact consider myself an optimist, but I don’t have the best perspective on the institutionalization of the nonprofit sector in the United States. I often feel like words such as “vision” and “dreaming” have become the stale objects of grant proposals. But over the last few days here in Brazil I have been reminded that these words speak of an essential power that makes us human, these are faculties inherent in our evolutionary thrust, and it is time to reclaim them.
Led by Edgard Gouveia Júnior and a team of brilliant architects Instituto Elos has set out to make dreams possible again. Over the last few days I have witnessed the underbelly of this global capitalist system and human beings surviving under some of the worst living conditions many of us could imagine. This is where Elos has chosen to work. Edgar told me that he deeply believes in the symbol of the Yin and the Yang, he said that it is where darkness seems immutable that we find the brightest points of light.
Embedding themselves in the resilient life of a favela, Elos makes an invitation, it invites people to dream again and then move to make dreams real. They will find the worst spot in a dark place and then start to beautify it, to make great things out of nothing, and it is through this very process that communities come together – first the children, then the women, and then finally the men. These beautification projects open up new possibilities and the inspired encounter with that which was always latent starts to get communities to understand their own power over reality.
Although sober in the face of poverty, Elos invites people to play. They are continually seeking the right balance between how long to stay around and provide support and when to let go as they connect communities to one another and the possibilities they have discovered. People are completely capable of inventing better structures for themselves. Being here, it is easy to despair at this abject poverty and it’s endless magnitude, but dreaming makes us human again, and it is important to remember that we cannot build what we can not see and Elos helps us to see.
The children shall lead, and the men will follow. Makes a lot of sense given that dreaming seems to come much more easily to the young. I’m really struck by how calcified thinking can become in the absence of the kind of abject poverty you are witnessing, Gibran. Maybe the extremes help to break us out of our stuck ways – what do we have to lose? Thanks for the report!
Hi Gibran! Thanks for your beautiful words about our work. It was great to have you here.
Let me just make one distinction because I think this is relevant. Elos has no Executive Director, shared and collective leadership was present for the birth of Elos and remains in our essence up to now. I would say we move together led by our common purpose to make happen the best dreamable world!