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


The Power of a Brand to Transform A City

Meu Rio Members

From my latest article in GOOD:

How can we use the power of branding to strengthen a shared identity and spark positive change in the neighborhoods and cities where we live? An effective visual identity references the culture and history of a place’s people and reflects their hopes and aspirations. Logos, fonts, or color schemes, the most tangible parts of a brand identity, are not magical cure-alls for the financial, social, and cultural ills of a city, but they can be powerful symbols and rallying cries that galvanize people to action. Here are some stories and insights on how you can create a brand identity for change in your community:

Read more on GOOD.is

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