João Roberto Cilento Winther
São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Fellow Since 1988
This profile was prepared when João Roberto Cilento Winther was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1988.
The New Idea
The idea is simple: all the fishermen or indigenous peoples need to prevent a "quick take over" of their costal land is a legal document that states their claim to the usage of the land. Merely starting the process of applying to have their use of the oceanfront recognized will stop anybody else from easily getting usage rights. Any such new request will be studied, carefully taking into account the previous claim -- thus at least allowing time for the community to prepare.Joao Winther plans to provide the basic material for both the application and any legal defense. He wants to work with the fishermen, in his words, "drawing a picture" of their communities. This picture will start with mapping the locality (identifying the houses, the community buildings, the places where the boats are anchored, etc...). It will include the history of the community and its use of the land. He will also provide a brief socio-economic profile of the population. The final picture will be the property of each community to use as it sees fit. In addition to using the material to file for recognition of its traditional uses of the land, this community map will help the coastal communities plan their development and to ask for help.There may be as much value in the process as in the results. It focusses communities on an important concrete issue with clear short term results. The process of gathering and mapping the community's vital statistics and land use pattern should encourage analysis of the past and planning for the future. The surrounding series of discussions, meetings and lectures should raise people's consciousness and, hopefully, stimulate them to begin thinking through some of the major issues they face in light of the facts brought into focus by the map.