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Parading back to Rio de Janeiro: the bookish and brainy

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Victor R. Caivano/AP

(Read caption) Children line up in a Rio slum for free toy distribution at Christmastime.

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Some pack a bit of revolution in their bags when they come home. Others are making a getaway from the economic crisis abroad. Many want to contribute to Rio de Janeiro with something they learned elsewhere.

“Our journey began three years ago, when [we] began to imagine a different Rio de Janeiro, where the voices of all citizens would be respected and heard during the decision-making processses that define the city’s future,” says Alessandra Orofino, co-founder of Meu Rio (My Rio), a new digital channel for increased political participation, around issues lacking public debate.

Raised and educated in Rio, Orofino and her school chum Miguel Lago both studied abroad. They decided to return and “…act now because we saw this was a unique moment, when changes that normally would take much longer to occur are unfolding faster,” she explains. “We thought, ‘now or never’!” The nonstop duo convinced former Central Bank president Armínio Fraga to provide seed funding.

Alexandre Fernandes and Ana Ester Rossetto left Santa Catarina for graduate study abroad – in the new fields of ecological and economic innovation. They recently returned to found KCA Consulting, to serve Rio de Janeiro companies interested in the redesign of industrial processes that achieve 100 percent recycling, the “Cradle to Cradle” concept developed by Michael Braungart and William McDonough. ”I found the pieces of my puzzle, what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Rossetto revels. The couple sees Petrobras, Casas Bahia, Brastemp, and Carrefour as potential clients, capable of implementing reverse logistics such that consumer product and industrial waste don’t end up in Rio’s new landfill site, in Seropédica.

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