In an interview with bluevision, the journalist and social entrepreneur André Palhano tells us how he left economic journalism and learned he had to go after his goal
Born in Piracicaba, countryside of São Paulo, André Palhano, now 42 years old, is a journalist who, in search of his life purpose, decided to undertake and create Virada Sustentável, an event that has taken place in several Brazilian cities since 2011. In 2018, the series of events begins in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, city which receives a series of activities that seek to promote the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) between April 6 and 8. The next edition of Virada Sustentável takes place in Rio de Janeiro and will be held from June 8 to 10, 2018. São Paulo will host the third edition of the event in 2018, between August 23 and 26. Salvador must also have its annual edition.
A journalist who has worked for great media vehicles like Agência Estado, Veja and Folha de S. Paulo, Palhano specialized in economics before dedicating himself to sustainability. “When you start to understand the economy and how exchange, monetary and fiscal policies are related, it’s nice that you also start to understand how we are organized as a society,” he told Museu da Pessoa.
However, a panic crisis during a trip to the United States awakened him to his most sensitive side. “I searched for – and never minded because I was super skeptical – some more holistic, spirituality works. Then, I tried from yoga and meditation to holotropic breathing, and it opened my mind. It really was as if I had known another world. I lived in that world made of markets, tie, money, and suddenly my vision opened to another world of such an impressive magnitude”, he said.
For the social entrepreneur, the macro aspect of Economics also exists in Sustainability, which goes far beyond issues related to the environment. In order to spread this subject extent, he created in 2011, the first Virada Sustentável, in São Paulo, an event that is present in several cities of Brazil nowadays.
Check out the interview bluevision has made with the journalist.
bluevision – Why did you decide to be a journalist after quitting Law?
André Palhano – I decided to move to journalism because you act for the sake of society in this career. We have this vision of Law too, such an important area, but I think journalism is more clearly and directly into it.
Bluevision – What has panic syndrome taught you? Tell me more about the episode.
André – I decided to move to journalism because you act for the sake of society in this career. We have this vision of Law too, such an important area, but I think journalism is more clearly and directly into it.
Bluevision – What has panic syndrome taught you? Tell me more about the episode.
André – This difficult time that I went through – and so many people do – taught me that it is very important for you to work and to have your life better aligned with a purpose, to whatever you want to do, in fact, and not just to what they tell you to do. Although it was a rather difficult experience, it really changed my world view, and if it had not happened, I certainly would not be so happy and aligned with what I do in my life today, working to make society a little better.
Bluevision – And what was it like to become a social entrepreneur?
André – It was not an easy task. It requires a lot of courage, especially in Brazil, but if you are really aligned with and focused on the mission you have in this world, this makes things easier and the difficulties become much smaller.
bluevision – What is the main challenge of having a social impact business in Brazil?
André – A social impact business is still very recent in our country, so it is very difficult, especially when you deal with government, that people understand that you are generating this positive social impact. This is, perhaps, still one of the main difficulties of this theme in Brazil, which is still just starting. There is no differentiation in what you do, whether social or not.
bluevision – How has the idea of Virada Sustentável appeared to you and what is your concept of it?
André – The idea of Virada arised in a conversation between Mariana Amaral and myself. We were saying that the campaigns related to awareness and education on the subject were very loaded, heavy, or imperative in the sense of “do this or do that, be this or that”. So, we thought about how to make this arid theme a more attractive, more seductive thing. And from there, we had the idea of making an essentially artistic festival with exhibitions, music, cinema, theater and storytelling and whose main content is the various themes of sustainability..
Today, Virada adds other fronts, such as knowledge, with lectures, debates, seminars, and also action, where the activities are, whether it is about cycling, walking, revitalization of areas and others. It works as a great education campaign for the theme, with this bias of joy and positivity, trying to increase the number of people who mobilize and engage around this theme. Moreover, of course, it invites several actors, organizations that already act in different cities to be part of this great party, this great festival.
bluevision – What is the main challenge of taking the event to such different cities?
André – Dealing with cities as diverse as Salvador, Porto Alegre, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro is precisely the big challenge. For this, we created a methodology to respect not only these differences, but also the characteristics of each location. There is no use in going to Manaus and bringing an event that deals with air pollution, because this is not a sustainability issue in Manaus, at least not for now..
So, the idea is to map all the themes that relate to that territory, as well as the actors who are better transforming the place. Then, you can have the same characteristics, but let it be essentially local, not just the same event being transferred from one city to another..
bluevision – What did Virada teach you about Brazil in terms of sustainability?
André – It taught me that, regardless of where you are, regardless of the size of the city where you are, there are many people working to make Brazil a better country. It’s amazing how many groups we find, as well as organizations, collective groups, people who are really making a difference, whether through projects or through partnerships with the public and private sector. There are also many people working in education. It’s amazing how good people are, and that makes us very optimistic. We have a very privileged vision of a Brazil that works, a Brazil that progresses and goes forward. This may be the main teaching.
bluevision – You say that talks about sustainability is often stereotyped. What is sustainability for you?
André -There is a stereotype of sustainability linked only to environmental issues. But I think that, today, sustainability is a more official concept and is well represented by the idea of sustainable development, which is a development model that meets the current needs of our generation without compromising future generations. This, translated in a more objective way, is best represented by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, not only because there are all the causes and challenges that we have in our world, but also because it is the most representative agenda signed by so many countries under the coordination of the UN.
bluevision – You say that the better world we dream of has already been planted. Can you give examples of what already exists and just needs to be taken care of?
André -I have no doubt that this world has already been planted. All you have to do is travel through this Brazil and meet so many people who are making the challenges, the solutions. Be part of the group that works with the water issue, developing the most diverse intelligent solutions for water harvesting and water reuse; be part of the group that is working with recycling and circular economy, showing that garbage is, in fact, a very useful economic resource. There are so many people struggling and showing that you can reduce inequality with inclusion, only by dealing equally with people regardless of social class. I think you can be very optimistic seeing that these seeds are already planted. And of course, realizing that the seed is much more than people, the seeds are part of a civilizing advance. It’s so obvious the way we have to go through. It would be very stupid of us not to see this.
What can I do?
AGet to know when Virada Sustentável is coming to your city or to take it to other places, visit the website viradasustentavel.org.br.
Content published in April 6, 2018
What Braskem is doing about it?
Braskem is the main sponsor of Virada Sustentável and supports the initiative since the first edition, in São Paulo. The company has also sponsored the Viradas festivals of Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador since their first editions. The event, which takes place in several Brazilian cities throughout the year, is an annual mobilization and education festival that aims to broaden information on sustainability through art and culture as the main awareness tools.