Our Cities Network Seeks Founders

Hi! I am part of a movement in Brazil, the Our Cities Network, which is expanding around the world. They are looking for passionate people to start organizations aimed at using citizen participation to transforming cities into better places to live. I think you might be interested!

Check out the TED Talk by the founder, Alessandra Orofino, and the application to found a network here: http://www.nossascidades.org/en/founders.

The selected candidates will spend six weeks in residency at the Our Cities headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, and the Our Cities team will incubate each new network for up to one year. I thought of you when I saw this opportunity, please give it a look and share with anyone else you know that might be interested! Thanks so much


Impacto 2014

Update (19 January 2015): Here is a direct video embed of my talk at the Impacto 2014 conference.

This Monday I had the honor of speaking at the Impacto 2014: Future of Business conference at Itaú Cultural in São Paulo, a free public event sponsored by Google and Itaú with assistance from Itaú Cultural and the Telefônica Brasil Foundation. I talked about the importance of historical and community-centered perspective in the process of creative problem-solving process. I then gave concrete examples through some of the current projects we are working on at Foossa and Purpose, including Wisdom Hackers, Happy Mango, and Catalyst.

My talk begins at around 3h19m (it’s all in English after a brief intro in Portuguese). Click here to view on YouTube at the exact start time.

New York Brazilians to Drown Their Sorrows and Raise Money for a Good Cause


Annette Miñoso
Afro Brazil Arts
(212) 677-2203

Afro Brazil Arts’ Summer Party to Ease Brazil Fans’ Pain

New York, NY: Brazil’s National Soccer Team did not live up to expectations during their quarterfinal World Cup match. In the first half hour, the team was down by 5 points against Germany. This huge upset is heartbreaking for fans who see their team with national pride. Thankfully, Brazilians in New York City have an opportunity to support Capoeira, another Brazilian sport, help spread their culture and show their national pride.

Afro Brazil Arts, a non-profit youth organization that uses capoeira to teach children and young adults throughout New York City leadership skills, Brazilian culture and mindful physical fitness, will have their annual summer party on Wednesday July 9 at Leftfield’s, 87 Ludlow Street from 7:00pm – 9:30pm. The party will feature live drummers, a raffle for free capoeira and music lessons, and happy hour priced drinks. There is a $10 suggested donation at the door.

Capoeria, a martial art that combines dance, acrobatics and music, is Brazil’s true national sport[1]. It was developed in Brazil by African descendants in the 1700s and incorporates many native Brazilian influences.  Afro Brazil Arts has brought capoeira to public schools and community centers for the last 25 years as a means to inspire achievement and promote community in the Lower East Side and the East Village.

Proceeds from the Summer Party will benefit the Afro Brazil Arts’ new studio and Young Scholars program.

About Afro Brazil Arts: Afro Brazil Arts is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire achievement, leadership and community through capoeira made accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Our programs include capoeira classes in schools and at the New York Capoeira Center, Brazilian dance and music performances, and training programs for teachers and teaching artists. For more information on Afro Brazil Arts, please go to http://www.afrobrazilarts.org/

Information on children’s and adult classes can be found at http://newyorkcapoeira.com/

Leftfield is located at 87 Ludlow Street between Broome St & Delancey St. (212) 677-1100

[1] Comment made by Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas (1951-1954)

A Capoeira Anecdote


In case you ever wondered if capoeira is a real martial art, here is a funny anecdote from this weekend:

I was out for a late-night snack with some friends in the East Village. While walking down Ave A, I felt myself blindsided and body-checked by someone walking the opposite direction, knocking me a bit off my balance. Instinctively, my foot instinctively just happened place itself just behind my assailant’s achilles tendon. Rasteira.

I look up and make eye-contact with my would-be assailant. It turns out to be a young woman more on the silly side of sloppy. Her eyes say, “not a threat, no disrespect.” The placed (but not pulled) rasteira says, “appropriately non-violent defense to perceived hostility.” Or in other words, “I’ve got options if there were actually belligerent intent.” Disengage rasteira. All of this happened in a matter of seconds. Situation diffused, we go our separate ways.

Of course, if I had really been paying attention, I wouldn’t have been blindsided in the first place…

History of the Meu Rio Brand

Last Sunday I published my first blog post in Portuguese for the Meu Rio blog, in which I tell the story of how we developed our brand identity. Here is an English translation of that post.


Hi, I’m Lee-Sean, and this is my first post. I’m going to tell you the story of the how we developed the Meu Rio logo and identity, but first I would like to confess something. Maybe it’s obvious, but I’m not from here. I’m neither a Carioca (native of Rio) nor a Brazilian. I was born in Taiwan, grew up in Arizona, and lived in various other places since: Boston, Barcelona, Nakatsu (Japan), New York. I consider myself a citizen of the world, and now an honorary Carioca.

I arrived in Rio for the first time in 2010 along with Alessandra, co-founder of Meu Rio, and our Purpose colleague Emmy. We came to do, among other things, the preliminary research for the development of the brand identity. Before coming here, I had already made an effort to better understand Brazilian and Carioca culture: I studied Portuguese, I read books and watched movies about Rio, I listen to Brazilian music, I play capoeira.

Beach Boardwalk, Rio

But as a gringo, I also had many stereotypical and touristic images of Rio in my head: the big Jesus statue, the Sugarloaf, the wave-patterned pavement designed by Burle Marx, the beach, Carnaval, Carmen Miranda, etc. I knew I had to avoid clichés and create an identity worthy of the Marvelous City. The challenge was to create a brand that respected and celebrated Rio’s cultural heritage.


The first phase of our research involved total immersion. We travelled all over the city. We interviewed many Cariocas. We conducted observations and took hundreds of photos. All of this might sound like sightseeing, but really it was tiring work. Rio is full of visual delights and a city of stark contrasts between mountains and ocean, urban grey and rainforest green, modern and old, “asphalt” and favela.


We found abundant sources of inspiration: the colors of tropical fruit and plants; urban street art with its rough aesthetic and perceptive social critique; the sensual curves of nature, modern architecture and the bodies of Cariocas at the beach; and the first meeting of Donald Duck and Zé Carioca.

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro

After finishing the first phase of research, we began drawing. I made several sketches. See some examples below. I tried to capture the “ginga” (swing) of the Carioca lifestyle and express the popular spirit of DIY.



After deliberating, we ended up picking the current logo.

Our logo subtly evokes the form of a coconut. Coconuts hydrate and nourish Cariocas and serve as an icon of Meu Rio. The irregular shape and imperfection help encourage popular participation.

The “Folk” font we used for the logo was created by the Brazilian type designer Marcelo Magalhães and is licensed for reuse under Creative Commons..

By definition, a brand identity is a system of visual and stylistic rule, but at Meu Rio we aim to be more than just that. Our intention is to create a “living system” brand identity that is open to participation and remix, a brand that will grow and evolve over time, and that can easily live in online and offline contexts, in two and three dimensions. This post is about the history of the Meu Rio brand, but the story is not yet finished. We continue moving forward along with your participation.

What do you think of the Meu Rio brand?

Meu Rio Lazer Printing

Meu Rio Stationery

Protesto da Roleta