The Many Currencies of a Brazilian Feminist…

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I came here to confess something from the bottom of my broken…wallet. I am a journalist who exchanged newsrooms and the long hours before deadlines to follow my principles and passion. Yeah…I am one of those people. I used to write about fashion, until the day I realized that it was much more interesting to talk about the women who wore those dresses than the other way around.

So I embraced feminism and let it guide what would become my new job, which at first I could only describe to my friends as “something that didn’t exist.”

But then it slowly became a real tangible thing called Olga, and frankly, it’s still a little bit hard to explain. Olga is a mix between research, journalism, events, communities and activism, and we aim to raise the available options for women. (If that didn’t really clear things up, click here to check it out for yourself: www.thinkolga.com.) I can say I am a company – and I even have all the papers to prove it, but in a way I am also a nonprofit, or so says my bank account. (Okay, okay, I know that being a nonprofit is not about being broke. Just a fun play on words here.)

Think Olga

The truth is, I’ve never been happier professionally. Last April 30th, I celebrated Think Olga’s first anniversary with a legacy of meaningful discussions and contributions all around Brazil. But each Friday when I try to cope with my satisfied exhaustion by drinking cheap wine, I realize I still haven’t made a penny. So how is it possible to earn some money while creating your own movement? Former co-workers, ex-bosses and even ex-bosses´s bosses have all asked me this. After all, even if you haven’t invented a successful social network, top-rated app or software company in the last decade, you still have to bring home the bacon.

Unfortunately, I haven’t got an answer – neither for them or myself. But I now strongly believe you can make a lot – much more than I imagined – using currencies other than money.

You can achieve any goal you set yourself – sometimes even finding a way to make ends meet. So here are the most vital currencies for the penniless feminist willing to make a strong impact:

 

 PURPOSE                      CONTACTS                MOVEMENT

    • Purpose: Just like you found something that drives you to work passionately, others may feel similarly about the same issue. So put your beliefs and passions out there for the world to see. Go for it, and if you’re scared, go anyway. People may recognize themselves in your journey and support you – psychologically, professionally, even magically. Just like Wikipedians write encyclopedia entries and Linux developers code, feminists are there to help out a sister.
    • Contacts: People are more valuable than money in the big scheme of things. They can help grow your venture, sometimes even financially, which is becoming easier as new crowdfunding and donation systems pop up. People also help you get in contact with more people, new resources and cool ideas. Contrary to popular belief, women don’t naturally hate or compete with each other.
    • Movement: Change brings change. So if you do whatever is within your reach, people take notice, and the more you make, the more people will be inspired to join you. Just like the proverbial guy who traded a clip for a pen and a pen for something more valuable and kept on going until he had an entire house for himself, momentum happens in the small daily steps. Only your destiny is not to own real estate, but to change hearts and minds.

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So here’s what happened to me as a result of having purpose, contacts and movement. Last march, a resident of a shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, Claudia Silva Ferreira, was killed in a shootout between the police and drug lords. To make things even less humane, her body was tied to a police car and dragged through the streets for many meters. The policemen alleged that it was an accident – in their version, they tried to put her in the trunk of the car to take her to a hospital and the trunk opened – but the crime created a general outrage with the way the police generally treat the innocent, the poor and women.

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To help bring back the dignity Claudia deserved, we at Think Olga decided to invite three friends who were designers to create illustrations about her, and then invite other people to join in. It was called ‘A Hundred Times Claudia.’ We wanted to get about a hundred illustrations for the whole campaign. But people engaged, and the campaign went viral. We got to the first hundred images in less than 24 hours. In 48 hours, there were 200 hundred skilled, insightful and overall beautiful illustrations on the website, and hundreds more of unpublished poems, texts, doodles and photos on our inbox. We are now printing some of them to send to Claudia´s family to help them deal with the loss, and there are also negotiations to turn the project into a free exhibition so Claudia won’t be forgotten. 

You can move the needle forward!

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