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Maria da Fe, Brazil
The Com Arte Co-op (Cooperativa Mariense de Artesanato) began at the same time as the "Rural Tourism Development" program under the aegis of the municipal government of Maria da Fe and SEBRAE in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.
One of the goals of the project was the search for local artisans. In attendance at one of these local meetings was Domingos Totora, who demonstrated a technique which he had created and was hoping to develop along with some colleagues in Maria da Fe. Subsequent to this meeting, Domingos, along with six other artisans, began their work under the name "Gente de Fibra." In Portugese "Gente de Fibra" connotes people who make things out of fiber, but it also means "quality people."
Working with recycled cardboard, paper and natural pigments along with banana leaf fiber, fourteen young artisans from the "Gente de Fibra" group produce both decorative and utilitariian pieces with a strong rural identity. The arts & crafts made from fibers is an Indian tradition that is practiced in many rural communities. The group exhibits a tremendous degree of social conscience and is responsible for the income of several municipal families in Maria da Fe in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.
All products made by the "Gente de Fibra" group carry the Brazilian IQS seal which certifies that these items are environmentally friendly, socially just and economically viable.
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