Ocupe Carrhino, or Occupy the Car, is a movement Carrelli began to address the blight of abandoned cars in the neighborhoods of São Paulo. Owning a car can be very expensive in São Paulo, so people regularly abandon them, making for blight in neighborhoods, which the government is too unorganized to deal with. So Carrelli thought to bring attention to this problem while at the same time making it turning into a positive for the community by using the abandoned cars as canvases for public art. Not only does he and his group do the work, but eventually, the neighbors get involved and help paint the car as well. This, Carrelli says, is the real success of Ocupe Carrinho – empowering residents to improve their neighborhoods.
After transforming three abandoned cars in various São Paulo neighborhoods, Ocupe Carrinho set up a Facebook page so people could contact them and let them know about abandoned cars in their neighborhoods. A resident of the Ana Rosa neighborhood informed the group about a car that had sat abandoned in his community for 3 years, and thus began the Yellow Submarine project. The name comes as a reference to São Paulo’s stormwater management troubles as the rainy season begins. “The city has a big problem with flooding due to the many asphalt streets and parking lots, so the only way to get around these days is by submarine,” jokes Carrelli.
The Yellow Submarine project was also a way to celebrate World Car Free Day by bringing attention to one of São Paulo’s biggest problems – traffic congestion and resulting poor air quality. Abandoned cars are a symptom of the urban mobility problem in São Paulo and by highlighting them, Carrelli is trying to raise awareness of the city’s problem with automobile-centric transportation. Cars are so abundant in São Paulo that they have become disposable. “We need to start thinking of other mobility solutions, like better quality public transportation and bicycles, or we won’t even have a place to park a car,” says Carrelli.