I met André when he was Municipal Labor Secretary, at the end of the 90s. I went to talk to him with a group from the São Conrado Neighborhood Association. We were trying to find a solution to Rocinha’s trash. Because of a political feud in the favela between the devotees of the governor and those of the mayor, we didn’t get anywhere.
But that day it was obvious that our young, energetic interlocutor was brilliant. In the midst of gallons of cynicism spread throughout the city, an idealist. Such a person takes the shame out of dreaming.
Years later I ran into André at a birthday party. We began a conversation about the city of Rio de Janeiro that lasted years, punctuated by his exhortations that usually came at the close of the OsteRio debates.
I’ll never forget the time he called me Julia Roberts, when I put up my hand to aske a question during one of the debates. We laughed so much.
That Osteria dell’ Angolo red wine and eggplant had an effect, as he meant them to in creating OsteRio along the lines of neighborly political debates in Italy. By 2010 I felt an urgency to get into the fray, to do something to help make sure that the transformation we’d all dreamed of wouldn’t be totally ephemeral.
The idea for the blog came to me, and I quit my good job at Editora Objetiva.
“Sensacional,” said André, after reading my first post. “Yesss! ” I thought.
He found out about the cancer late. Even so, he fought it in every possible manner, as was his nature. He still wrote, gave talks, thought, mentored and prodded people. He loved his sons, all just as handsome, full of life and intelligent as he, very much.
May they and all of us carry forth the special flame that was André Urani.