In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Viva Favela, we would like to honor one of the most innovative participatory media projects in the world.  Based in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, the website offers favela residents a citizen journalism platform to upload and post visual stories.   The portal also presents pieces by trained media correspondents inside the communities that reflect the lives and interests of favela residents. 

Viva Favela is one of the many social projects sponsored by the NGO Viva Rio, famous for their peace campaigns, disarmament projects, and their favela-based human rights programs. In 2001, Viva Rio expanded into the virtual realm by launching a web portal called Viva Favela in an attempt to change the digital exclusion of favelas.  The original idea for the portal was to create an online magazine about the cultural and social life of the favelas while bridging the digital divide between the poorest communities in Rio and the rest of the world.  Viva Rio also wanted to project an alternative image of the favelas.  If the press only focused on drug trafficking and violence, then Viva Favela wanted to expose the rich everydayness of favela life.  Since this vision could only come from the inside, Viva Rio recruited writers and photographers who lived in favelas and trained them as journalists and photojournalists.

Over the past ten years the project has grown from a simple online magazine with thematic pages to a more complex participatory media platform where anyone inside the communities can upload stories about the favelas.  Today there are over 2000 favela-based correspondents registered with the site and 500 have now published visual stories on the portal.  The themes that have coalesced over the years include stories about how people live and work in the favelas, beauty and fashion, music and art, issues of interest to women, architecture and design in the communities, violence and lost lives, security and human rights concerns, and environmental issues.  The correspondents were also trained by anthropologists to research among the elderly for the oral history of each community and any personal photographs documenting the beginning of their favelas.   

The stories published in Viva Favela tap into several key issues related to human rights.  Article 27 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to participate in the cultural life of their community and everyone should share the fruits of any scientific advancement.  From this perspective, everyone has the rights to computers, internet access, digital cameras, and open source software.  People everywhere also have the right to receive information, generate their own stories, gather in public space, including virtual space, to express themselves, and represent themselves through any media.  As a transformative media project, Viva Favela empowers people to produce media, circulate news, and receive visual stories that reflect their lives. Today the nexus of critical consciousness and social transformation is dependent on the access to the latest communication technologies, the free exchange of ideas, and the life-long access to knowledge.

Viva Favela has launched several new initiatives including an interactive mapping project, an archive of videos from the communities, audio recordings, an image bank, and a new thematic online magazine. Viva Favela is also actively training young people from the communities in journalism, video production, video editing, and digital photography. In the spirit of citizen journalism, we offer you this book as a free download, a free Ebook and as a physical POD (print on demand) book.  The price of the physical book is what it costs to print 120 pages in full color.