Mais Diferenças – The Brazilian Connection


Saturday, 1st September 2012 – A faulty train junction near Reading

Whether it’s a lyric that resonates amongst countless others, the filaments of colour in a friend’s eye or a musical note that is off-key but full of feeling, surely beauty lies in the differences  – our defining features. When I heard about ‘Mais Diferenças’, I was immediately interested: a Brazilian non-governmental organisation whose aim is to promote, construct and implement inclusive practice in several sectors of society, with a focus on the rights of people who face physically disabling barriers.

I wrote an email to Mais Diferenças in the hope of creating a collaborative link with a Brazilian group similar to Drake, and I’m now on my way to meet the co-ordinators who by chance are in London for the Paralympics – the right place at the right time. Now that the train has ground to a halt due to point failure, we’re shrouded in greenery and the stillness is helping me think. All the possibilities of a transatlantic musical collaboration buzz around my head – recording, jamming online, multi-lingual lyrics and bending the language barrier. It’s just a casual meeting, I remind myself – but I can’t help imagining the myriad avenues that such a project could lead us to, like a mass of tributaries in the Amazon basin.

A swift mineral water reins in my imagination a little and I remind myself that the ‘project’ is currently a hypothetical rivulet that may or may not start to branch off-stream. With my ideas on hold – like the train – the story of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam surfaces: a gargantuan complex in the Amazon region that would add 11,233 megawatts of capacity to the Brazilian national grid.  Its impact on the indigenous peoples living in the region and the vast biodiversity of the wildlife would deprive an estimated 20,000 people of their homes and endanger countless species of interdependent plants and animals. It also appears that the government is imposing the plans with no dialogue with the Indians or the rest of Brazilian society.

A monolithic barrier such as a megadam seems an apt analogy for the other barriers humanity faces – both physically and mentally. Certainly too many ideas are dammed/damned. Perhaps our project could play a part in unblocking a few metaphorical rivers in this sense, and in the process help to break some of the mentally and physically disabling barriers faced by people worldwide.

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