RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A reimagined town square that fosters community as a safe haven and a well of information, a source of contacts, discussions, tips, warnings, and new friends in a new city, a private social group that has been weaving an effective sense of place in the world to legions of fluctuating foreigners in Brazil’s capital.
That vision takes the form of the Living Brasilia Forum, LBF, a private Facebook group that brings to life a new generation of services harnessing the real power of Facebook to help expats meet people, find jobs, find apartments, ask for advice, and to stay connected with people in similar situations.
Keeping spammers and those without a local-international connection from clogging up its feed, the group has become a valuable meeting point for expats to stay in the loop, be informed of important news, events, community talents, and artists, potential or active hazards, Covid developments, vaccine availability and more.
LBF is the Brasilia source of opportunities for expats to discover commonalities with people from quite diverse backgrounds and cultures who may feel isolated in a new country, but it is also a powerful spotlight on the benefits and challenges of life in the area, helping unravel the complications of the city and serving as a platform or trampoline for new projects and ideas.
Brasilia is home to a sizeable number of international families, the capital hosts diplomatic missions representing close to 135 nations with a constant rotation of delegations making the expat community dynamic and everchanging.
As the song says, Brasilia is a different city, it can be difficult to find your way around, driving for miles and miles without finding a store, or a pharmacy, or even a neighborhood grocery store, unless you understand the city the way only those who have been here longer can help you understand.
Building a life in Brasilia can come with a lot of questions, getting connected can be daunting.
ENTER, LIVING BRASILIA FORUM
Founded in February 2013 “to give or receive information about our city, surroundings and how to make the most of our time here,” LBF is small by Facebook’s groups standards; but it consists of around 2300 members, a size that allows it to be homey and comfortable, but it also makes it an invaluable platform to weave an international community.
“Are you a foreigner living in Brasilia? Need contacts, tips, and helpful information? Want to find the right doctors, discover new places, learn about events, entertainment, find house-help, or work opportunities? Like to meet new friends? Then Living Brasilia Forum is for you,” say the administrators Fiona Murphy and Christoph Diewald, opening up to the broader community.
Administrators devote hours each week running the community, vetting requests to join, tracking for rules enforcement, and just guarding that discussions build bridges instead of discord.
As a result, LBF is an essential starting point for finding your way through everyday life and connecting with other expats for both newcomers and long-term residents, it is the kind of place where families find other families to meet up with, ask questions, post about events in the city, find other expat groups and activities, and more.
The group is energetic which means any pressing questions will usually be answered promptly. It is the ultimate group to get general real-time information, links to locally relevant articles in The Rio Times, references and access to activities like Vox Mundi, the Brasilia International Choir, local branches of global communities like the Hash House Harriers, articles about expat life in the immediate geographical area from B4D Magazine, and resources like brasilia4dummies, along with free classes, events, and others, or to just to consult with fellow expats.
Brasilia is one of the safest cities in you are likely to find yourself in Brazil but, like any city, stuff happens. The Living Brasilia Forum lets you stay up to date on safety issues as they happen, through news links, questions answered, reports by expats, and first-hand accounts of incidents.
“Relocation and life can be a challenge and is sometimes isolating; hopefully through this group, we can all help each other, welcome new families, find new friends and keep a good balance in our lives with this extra support and information,” says the group’s explanation of its mission.
Though it is possible to spend countless hours ruminating over the philosophical implications of life in a new country, LBF is generally concerned with the practical of everyday life.
When it comes to being an expat, LBF is more than the kind of anchor that supports and builds a unique fabric of life, it is a profile in long-term commitment to pragmatic service to the community, says Julie Cartagena, a Brasilia newcomer transferring from Bolivia.