The study of the survival repertoires and ecologies of the homeless in Sao Paulo, Los Angeles and Tokyo took years to complete. It has become intertwined with other research about a phenomenon strongly connected to design: the development and spread of a massive urban rubbish excavation, catacao. It provides the basis of a new economic strategy able to generate income and raw material from which aids to living can be provided or made. This action does not just provide homeless and other individual citizens in the major Brazilian cities with the means to meet their material needs, but also it is the matter from which the material culture is constructed; it is a life-world of necessity. In the Brazilian framework closing the gap of knowledge is not a one-way process based on the indigenous traditions and late modern knowledge: it is actually a process of exchange and mutual learning.