Project Details


Catraca Livre

Helping Brazilians to 'Socialise better with less money'.

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @catracalivre

  • Community Engagement
  • Education
  • Internet
  • Social Software

Catraca Livre has a simple aim at its heart: ‘Conviva melhor com menos dinheiro’ (Socialise better with less money). Landing on its front page, Brazilians can search through a variegated range of the best in free, or very cheap, that’s on offer in their area: health services, concerts, training, education, community groups, commentary and events.

Established in 2011 by journalist and social activist Gilberto Dimenstein, with the support of MIT’s Media Lab, Catraca Livre (‘Free turnstile’) has already become popular enough that it is now used as slang to describe any free event. The site, which began in São Paulo, was already one of the most popular in Brazil long before it spread to 12 more of Brazil’s largest cities.

Underlying the simplicity of the offer – ‘What’s free and worth doing?’ – is a hypothesis that cities can be transformed into ‘learning communities’, through fostering the free exchange of ideas, skills and experiences. Dimenstein made his name more than a decade ago when he and some artists transformed a notorious alleyway used by drug dealers into a gallery for graffiti art done with children. He went on to create an organisation dedicated to creating spaces in which people learn in cities, almost like community schools in the open air. Catraca Livre is another expression of that drive to make cities open, accessible and vibrant places to learn, especially for those on modest incomes. The rapid growth of the site, and the diversity and range of the listings, suggest this hypothesis is well on its way to being confirmed.

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Last updated: 09th of May, 2014

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