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Feature: A Giving Fair in Rio de Janeiro


Feira Grátis da Gratidão

Feira Grátis da Gratidão

 

 

A unique fair embraces human interaction and spirit of giving. 

 

By: Emanuelle de Gondra

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

“Bring whatever you want, or nothing. Get whatever you want, or nothing.”

 

The quote seen above is the motto of “Feira Grátis da Gratidão”, what could be translated into something like the “free fair of gratitude”. Differently from other exchange fairs where one can only get something if he takes something in return, this type of fair offers the freedom of taking or bringing with nothing in exchange.

 

 

Feira Grátis da Gratidão

Feira Grátis da Gratidão

 

 

It was first seen in the streets of Buenos Aires and brought to Rio de Janeiro in December 2011 by Francisco Ottoni, a 24 year-old massage therapist. Since then, the fair has already had eight editions in different squares and parks of Rio and continues to grow fast. Clothing are perhaps the most common items, but you also find CDs, books, home appliances and items of all sorts. If it’s not possible to donate anything tangible, people generally offer something: some play music, offer massages, astrological charts, food, poetry… and even free hugs! The organizers ensure that everybody is welcome as they note, “if you don’t know what to give or don’t have anything to give, it’s ok, you can give somebody the opportunity to give you something.”

 

Free hugs at Feira Grátis da Gratidão

Free hugs at Feira Grátis da Gratidão

 

In today’s consumerist society, even the smallest things have a price and humans seem to want more and more even when they already have a lot. The fair works as a counter-flow to that ideology. For passers-by it is sometimes hard to understand the concept. People find themselves somehow unfamiliar with the concept of giving (or getting something) for nothing in exchange. If they don’t know the fair, they ask how much things cost and when they hear it’s free, they get suspicious and find it hard to believe. According to the organizers, this is the perfect moment to explain to the doubters what is called “the myth of scarcity”. Humans have been cultivating the habit of having goals which revolve around acquisitions and financial status — and it’s never enough.

 

Signs from the fair: “Everything is well, forever” and “Scarcity is a myth”

Signs from the fair: “Everything is well, forever” and “Scarcity is a myth”

 

People never seem to be fully satisfied with what they have and always need more. That is the “myth of scarcity”, which the fair tries to combat. “We are multiple and many. We can be a lot and we celebrate abundance. Notes one of the organizers, 25 year-old Julia Horowicz. “I have and I am so much that I can be happy by donating and adding to the other person. What I leave or give, grows and it doesn’t lack for me.” When Julia first visited the fair she could not know that she would later become an organizer, who, by the way, offers free manicure services: “When I first went to the fair, I was just visiting Rio from my hometown and therefore didn’t have many ‘things’ with me, so I decided to be a free manicurist on the fair.” The environment doesn’t revolve entirely around bringing and taking things. Participants make friends, especially those who bond because of playing music or donating books or CDs. People end up exchanging contact information and becoming close.

 

 

Feira Grátis da Gratidão

Feira Grátis da Gratidão

 

 

The organizers believe this type of fair is going to expand rapidly. They believe a lot of people have lost their faith in capitalism. After the last credit crisis and the current global recession, society has reached the point where talking about sustainability, social responsibility and the consequences of unbridled consumption sounds no longer like empty idealism, but a necessity. The fair withstands that as it is possible to be a responsible consumer and this will reflect globally. For more information on Feira Grátis da Gratidão, check out their Facebook page.

 

 

Photography courtesy of Feira Grátis da Gratidão

 

 

*Emanuelle recently graduated in advertising, but she’s not that fond of it. She loves colourful things and organization, and is old enough to be an adult but prefers to be a child.

 

 

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