May East

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May East
Born 29 January 1956
Years active 1978–present
Associated acts Gang 90 & Absurdettes

May East (also known as Maria Elisa Capparelli Pinheiro) is a Brazilian singer, songwriter, and social change activist. Over the years she has alternated voices of advocacy with voices of inspiration and considered herself an activist.[1]

East comes from a thriving artistic community stretching between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. May East's art be it in film, video, installation or music, expressed a deep concern for Brazil's environment both in the major cities and the country's vast interior, expecially the rainforests of the Amazon.


As a musician, May East started her career as a singer in the band Gang 90 & Absurdettes in 1981. Their songs mixed new-wave with beatnik poetry and a female choir, inspired by the new-wave band The B-52s. Gang 90 is considered to be the predecessor of all Brazillian new-wave bands of the 80s.[2]

In 1982 she collaborated with the independent TVDO videoart group [3] and in partnership with the producer Nelson Motta co-produced the tv program Mocidade Independente [4] for TV Bandeirantes.

In 1984 she released her first single, "Fire in the jungle/Índio", in Brazil , The Netherlands and Japan with EMI. Fire in the Jungle became a sound track for the film Areias Escaldantes directed by the independent director Fransisco de Paula.

Some months later, her first album, Remota Batucada was launched.[5] The music was an original brand of electronica, folk music, and new wave pop and was coined as "tribal ie-ie". East also released the albums Tabapora and Charites. She moved to England and then to the Scottish community of Findhorn, where she focused on ecological activism and started giving lectures and seminars.[6][7] In the late 90's she released the albums: Cave of the Heart (with the Findhorn Community Chorus) and Cosmic Breath (with her ex-husband Craig Gibsone); and 1001 Faces (solo album) in 2002.

May East has played a prominent role in developing relationships between the United Nations and the Findhorn Ecovillage, culminating in the establishment of CIFAL Scotland in 2006. The United Nations Institute for Training and Research affiliated training centre for Northern Europe operated for 10 years as a hub for capacity building, leadership and knowledge sharing between local and regional authorities, international organisations, the private sector and civil society under May’s leadership.[8][9]

She is currently the Chief Executive of Gaia Education, an international consortium of sustainability designers and educators from research and development centers for carbon-constrained lifestyles. Gaia Education supports the delivery programmes in 49 countries taking place in settings ranging from tribal and traditional communities to intentional ecovillages, from urban slum to universities and R&D centres.

May was included three years in a row (2011, 2012, 2013) in the 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders list, devised and produced by Ken Hickson, Chairman/CEO of Sustain Ability Showcase Asia and ABC Carbon. The list recognises 100 people around the world who have provided leadership in the field of sustainability.[10]

Since 2013 May East has been contributing articles to The Scotsman[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24] and The Guardian [25][26]


  1. ^ "Ecovillages | Design at the Edge". Kosmos Journal. Retrieved 2018-04-23. 
  2. ^ "Gang 90 & As Absurdettes – 1981 – Perdidos na Selva – single". postpunkbrazil. 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2018-04-23. 
  3. ^ "TVDO - Videobrasil". Retrieved 2018-04-23. 
  4. ^ "1981 - Programa MOCIDADE INDEPENDENTE". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-04-23. 
  5. ^ "May East". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2018-04-23. 
  6. ^ Revista IstoE. Barril da mãe natureza. Mother Earth Barril 24/11/1999 (in Portuguese)
  7. ^ De musa da new wave a ativista, ela defende e encarna um mundo em transição. From new wave muse to activist she promotes a world in transition. 23/11/2011 Revista Trip (in Portuguese)
  8. ^ CIFAL leader wins international recognition (in English)
  9. ^ Worldwide crises need global solutions - 01/07/2013. The Scotsman (in English)
  10. ^ 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders 2013 Published in ABC Carbon Express issue 202 (25/11/2013) (in English)
  11. ^ "Worldwide crises need global solutions". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  12. ^ "Sustainable cities become a fit place for everyone". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  13. ^ "The world is not enough for all our needs". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  14. ^ "Family farms can fight global food crisis". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  15. ^ "New social contract to boost our ecology". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  16. ^ "Deep decarbonising can still happen". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  17. ^ "Building the future in face of adversity". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  18. ^ "It's a year to rebuild, from the ground up". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  19. ^ "Push climate game changer over the line". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  20. ^ "Let's prepare for a world of change". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  21. ^ "May East: Education helping tackle climate change in Bangladesh". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  22. ^ "Educators must light the flame of current and future young 'glocalisers'". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  23. ^ "May East: Youth leading the way in growing income for Zambia's poorest". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  24. ^ "May East: Mountain to climb in solving world's problems in a sustainable way". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  25. ^ East, May (2014-10-31). "How one Brazilian slum is blurring the boundary between forest and city". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  26. ^ East, May (2014-12-22). "Bringing 'handmade, slow-made and well-made' back to Christmas giving". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-07.