By Sibel Tinar, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In 2010, Brazil elected its first female president, the Cidade Maravilhosa struggled with unusually heavy rainfalls that killed hundreds, a high-profile hostage situation at a luxury hotel, and quite recently, city-wide chaos, and the following violent confrontations between drug traffickers and the police.
Showing resilience and determination, Rio has managed to carry-on gracefully, and continues to show the world that it is in fact a major world city fully deserving of its role in the 2014 World Cup and to host the 2016 Olympics.
Following the tradition started last year, The Rio Times has compiled a list of ten interesting individuals who have made an impact in Rio de Janeiro’s foreign community in 2010.
1. Paula Walsh
With years of experience in the oil and gas industry, and as a commercial officer in Argentina, Paula Walsh took over the role of British Consulate-General, replacing the outgoing Tim Flear in August.
Walsh has assumed big responsibilities at a time when the oil industry has been gaining more importance each day, and the Olympic Games will be handed from London in 2012 to Rio in 2016.
2. Mark Pannell
Appointed as the Consul and Director of Press, Education and Culture at the U.S. Consulate of Rio de Janeiro, Mark Pannell started promoting and celebrating the American cultural heritage. Through various cultural events organized around the city, including the series of pandeiro jazz concerts by the American jazz musician Scott Feiner, and the Toys for Tots campaign launched at an American Football game, Pannell and the Consul General Dennis Hearne have been directing their efforts towards charitable causes, and creating new cultural ties between the two countries.
3. Lindsay Duval
The achievements of Lindsay Duval, the President of the The American Society of Rio de Janeiro (AmSoc Rio), is a key reason why AmSoc Rio is a leading foreign community organization. Her dedication to build and strengthen cross-cultural relationships between the U.S. and Brazil has materialized in acclaimed events such as America’s Day, and Rio’s most raved-about, delicious Thanksgiving Dinner.
4. Mary Crawshaw
As the Chair of the British and Commonwealth Society of Rio de Janeiro (BCS Rio), Mary Crawshaw has led a welfare fund and charities, aside from organizing events that celebrate the British culture, such as the Queen’s Birthday Party. Her efforts and contributions to Rio’s British community have been supported by Jack Woodall, who is the Editor of The Umbrella magazine.
5. Steve Solot
The President of Rio Film Commission, Steve Solot, an American living in Brazil for over twenty years, has been promoting Rio as a prime filming location for foreign productions, and is dedicated to making the city the audiovisual capital of Latin America. The American Day organized as part of the Rio International Film Festival is only one example of his efforts toward building strong relationships between the American and Brazilian filmmakers.
6. Luke Dowdney
Luke Dowdney, an Englishman and an amateur boxer, has founded the NGO Luta Pela Paz (Fight for Peace) in 2000 in Complexo da Maré, a sprawl of favelas in Rio’s Zona Norte (North zone), in order to provide a realistic alternative for the favela youth tempted by the violence in the streets.
Dowdney has been fighting for peace ever since, both literally and figuratively, overcoming financial burdens, and keeping the doors of his boxing club open, promoting the sport and maintaining a positive presence in the community.
7. Mike Ryan
The Australian owner of the Jazz club TribOz in old Lapa, also known as Centro Cultural Brasil-Austrália (Brazilian-Australian Cultural Center), Mike Ryan espouses the philosophy of “prioritize creativity without preconception” in his endeavors. Principally dedicated to Jazz and Bossa-Nova, TribOz has established itself as an acclaimed venue for performances of both Brazilian and foreign musicians, all within the short time since its inauguration in 2008.
8. Sam Flowers
American-style meals, such as fresh pancakes, sizzling eggs & bacon and meatloaf have made Gringo Café in Ipanema the place to go to satisfy gringo-specific food cravings in Rio, and Sam Flowers is the owner and front man. Aside from satisfying the taste buds of foreigners and Cariocas alike, Sam has also made himself available for anyone thinking about starting a business in Rio.
9. Alex Cutler (a.k.a. MC Don Blanquito)
As a well-educated California native, who has been frequenting the baile funk parties in the most notorious favelas of Rio de Janeiro, the funk musician Blanquito is definitely one of the most controversial gringos in Rio. His road to recognition against all odds in the cutthroat baile funk scene of Rio, however, deserves respect at the very least, and shows that gringos can immerse themselves in local culture with hard work and perseverance.
10. Padraig Flavin
The Irish Pub in Ipanema, which for eight years used to be a popular hangout spot for locals, expats, and tourists alike, has unfortunately closed its doors permanently this year. The owner, Irishman Padraig Flavin, has left a big legacy behind, along with many memories of the good times at the pub that are unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.