Our Story


Our name was inspired from our understanding that the city is an interconnected and living organism. The name not only represents our institution, but our belief in the impact of our work: if we are able to transform various focal points in one city, the system as a whole will change.

After participating in the 2009 Warriors Without Weapons, an international training program for social entrepreneurs put on by the Elos Institute, Renata Minerbo returned to the school of architecture and urbanism ready to continue implementing this transforming method she learned about in her everyday life.

In 2011, thanks to an Undergraduate project, Renata again learned about community mobilization by revisiting OASIS game, a social technology that promotes physical transformations in the world by engaging communities in the act of local projects to implement changes. With the diverse conversations she had for the project she came in contact with the architect Rubens Marcatto. Through these conversations, the group grew and grew to include 7 multi-disciplinary people. Everyone worked a “real job” as well as dedicating their time to this meeting of people and ideas. Rubens suggested the name Urban Acupuncture for the group. It stuck..

Beyond being a university group that reflected on how to use the city as a platform to make positive transformations, it also contributed to the Luta Popular initiative with Periferia Ativa that was working to recreate an empty lot in Capão Redondo in the extreme south of São Paulo to try to learn about putting their ideas in practice.

Throughout 2012, the group started meeting less frequently. Those that were still there worked in other places and divided their time between their formal jobs and this group. Bit by bit they stopped implementing more initiatives in the city. In September, Renata decided to quit her office job and focus her time and energy completely on structuring Acupuntura Urbana.

At the beginning of the next year, thanks to the financial collaboration of Catarse, Acupuntura Urbana implemented its first institutional action with the Coruja Project in Vila Madalena (the west-side of São Paulo). The initiative happened throughout 2013, during which Acupuntura Urbana had its first secure work contract when it was selected for the Wings for Change (now Amaphiko) grant, part of the national network of social entrepreneurs created by the Asas Institute, a branch of Red Bull Brazil’s social responsibility office.

SIf you would like to know more about our story, watch the video that staff from CO.MO.VER put together: