Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World
Chelsea Green Pub.
, 1998 - Nature
- 231 pages
The eastern savannas of war-ravaged Colombia, known as the llanos, are among the most brutal environments on earth, an unlikely setting for one of the most hopeful environmental stories ever told. Here, more than twenty-five years ago, an intrepid visionary named Paolo Lugari set out to create a village that could sustain itself agriculturally, economically, and artistically. He reasoned that if a community could survive in the Colombian llanos, it would be possible to live anywhere. The new village was named after the graceful river terns common to the area, los gaviotas.The early inhabitants of Gaviotas soon realized that if they wanted even basic necessities, they would need to be very resourceful. So they invented wind turbines that convert mild breezes into energy, super-efficient pumps that tap previously inaccessible sources of water, and solar kettles that sterilize drinking water using the furious heat of the tropical sun.They even invented a rain forest! Two million pine trees planted as a renewable crop have unexpectedly allowed the rain forest to re-establish itself. Paolo Lugari and the Gaviotans, in their quest to create a model human habitat, serendipitously renewed an entire ecosystem. Perhaps this is why Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez has referred to Lugari as "The Inventor of the World."The story of Gaviotas is told by Alan Weisman, a veteran correspondent and part of a team of journalists who in 1994 were funded by the Ford Foundation to document solutions to the world's greatest environmental crises. His search led him to war-torn, drug-ravaged Colombia, and the miracle of Gaviotas. Weisman's original report was heard on National Public Radio byChelsea Green editor, Jim Schley, who recognized similarities between the story of Gaviotas and Jean Giono's classic fable The Man Who Planted Trees, the book that launched Chelsea Green twelve years ago.