José Augusto Saraiva Peixoto
This profile was prepared when José Augusto Saraiva Peixoto was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1992.
The New Idea
Since 1981, when Saraiva and eight other architecture students founded GERMAN -- the Grupo de Recomposição Amiental, or the Environmental Recuperation Group -- the organization has viewed community involvement as key to accomplishing its environmental goals. Through community-based programs, they have created an ecological park in the dune and lake district of Abaete, preserved several historic neighborhoods in Salvador, worked to demarcate Indian lands, and were involved in drafting new environmental legislation for the state.Now Saraiva is using the same approach for one of GERMAN's most ambitious tasks yet: the restoration of the Baia de Todos os Santos. For it to be a success, it must bring together municipal governments, environmental organizations, businesses, industries, technical experts, and the people of Bahia. This means working with the city of Salvador, with its two million inhabitants, and the thirteen other municipalities around the bay, which add another million residents to the task. The key motivating factor to unite them in this cause will be the 500th year anniversary of the Baia de Todos os Santos in the year 2001.The bay was discovered by explorer Americo Vespucci, who sailed these waters in 1501. The goal of the project will be to bring together communities to clean up this historic bay in time for the anniversary celebration. Saraiva says that even if the environmental conditions of the bay are not completely restored by then, at least they will have developed and begun to implement the necessary model for recuperation of this ecological monument.It is the complexity of the program, working together with the residents whose lives are connected to the bay, that make this project original. Saraiva has designed several projects designed to guarantee the involvement of each municipality and the integration of communities and organizations.