Gaviotas

The Village Who Planted Trees

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In Gaviotas, Colombia, and the surrounding region, the appropriate technology movement is thriving. An experimental community in the wastelands has accidentally restored a rainforest, along with the hearts of its people.

"Gaviotans live in peace surrounded by narcotics dealers and guerillas. They live without guns, without pesticides, willing to serve and teach all comers. They count their wealth in sun, water, and community."

"They always put social experiments in the easiest, most fertile places. We wanted the hardest place. We figured if we could do it here, we could do it anywhere."
-- Paolo Lugari, founder of Gaviotas

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Gaviotas is Real
Alan Weisman, author of Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World, stated in an NPR documentary that "Although ecologists originally questioned bringing a Central American species into Colombia's Llanos, something amazing has happened. In the moist understory of the Gaviotas forest, dormant seeds of native trees probably not seen in Los Llanos for millennia are sprouting. Biologists have now counted at least 40 species, which are sheltered by Caribbean pines. Over the coming decades, Gaviotas will let these new native trees choke out the pines and return the Llanos to what many believe was their primeval state, an extension of the Amazon. Already, the population of deer and anteaters is growing. 

Elsewhere, they're tearing down the rain forest, but I've come to a place where they're actually putting it back, even as they create more livable space for people. I remember asking Paolo Lugari back in Bogota if Gaviotas is really Utopia." Mr. Lugari replied, through a translator, "Not Utopia, but Topia. In Greek, the prefix "u" signifies 'no". Utopia literally means "no place". It s just an idea; but Gaviotas is real. We've gone from fantasy to reality, from Utopia to Topia."

Lugari recruited engineers from universities in Bogota to develop technology for the rural tropics. Their marvels are found all over the village. The Global Citizen writes "The technical and architectural triumph of Gaviotas is its hospital, cooled by the wind, heated by the sun. The sun also provides hot water, boiled sterilized water, and the heat for six pressure cookers in the kitchen, plus enough electricity for the lights. By the time the hospital was built, Gaviotas had several hundred inhabitants, including the only doctors, nurses, and teachers for hundreds of miles around. People came there for medical care and sent their children there to school." 

Alan Weisman adds: "For years, Gaviotas has been a non-profit foundation, a model for the United Nations development program; but to finance themselves, the Gaviotans must also market their technology. That isn't so easy, Gonsalo says, since Gaviotas refuses to patent their inventions, preferring to share them." 


An "All Things Considered" segment, narrated by Alan Weisman, aired on National Public Radio on August 29, 1994. A transcript is available here:

Gaviotas Rising: A Documentary



The phone numbers of the Gaviotas office in Bogota: 
286 28 76 or 341 99 67. 

Their FAX numbers: 281 18 03 or 342 97 21. 

They have no e-mail. 

Their postal address: 

Gaviotas Community, Paseo Bolivar 20-90
Bogotá, DC, Colombia, S.A. 

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Resources


booksgaviotas on the webrelated sites

Gaviotas on the Web

Friends of Gaviotas -- "a nonprofit organization established to further an exchange of ideas, knowledge and resources with the community of Gaviotas. It also aims to stimulate creative thinking and action among people who want to capture the 'spirit of Gaviotas' in their own lives, work and communities."

Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives

Alan Weisman's Update

Gaviotas: Sustainability in an Unforgiving Land

Living on Sun, Water, Wind, Grass, and Community

Alan Weisman Interview: Radio Transcript

Nothing wasted, Everything Gained

The Sustainable Village

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Related Web Sites

Net Quest Earth Links


"Tree of Life" -- A brief essay about a successful pilot reforestation scheme in Algeria.

"Restoring a prairie with fire and oozy seeds."
"Random paths to a stable ecosystem"



Essays & Excerpts collected by John Filiss for his Post Technology Project -- "A number of writings which serve, in various ways, to question the dominant paradigm of technology in relation to human well-being."

"Appropriate Technology in Technology Education"

"Toward an Environmentally Conscious Engineering Graduate"

"The Role of Technology in Sustainable Development"

Right Livelihood Award Recipients

UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Human Rights Links



Los Angeles Eco-Village in California is a similar community.

Global Eco-village Network

The Farm - Findhorn Community - Crystal Waters (AU)

Auroville (India)

Other Alternative and Utopian Communities



Utopia on the Internet

Feminist Utopias - Ecofeminist Fiction



Books


Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World
Alan Weisman

Review

Publisher's Website for the Book



A related publication from Chelsea Green publishers is the lovely book The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono. 

The publisher's Website for the book includes a sample from the audio CD, and this excerpt from the text.

The book also inspired a film, which won the academy Award for Best Animated Film of 1987. A less expensive version is available.

The several sites offer the full text of the book on the Internet. Copies: 12



Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure --Daniel Quinn. A new approach to saving the world that involves deconstructing civilization.


Natural Capitalism -- Paul Hawken, Amory B. Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins. Leading-edge companies are practicing "a new type of industrialism" that is more efficient and profitable while saving the environment and creating jobs.


Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered
E. F. Schumacher (25th Anniversary Edition, 1999)
Book links are to amazon.com listings, where the books are reviewed by readers, and can be ordered online. (We receive a small commission on items you order through these links.)

Appropriate Technology Books Recommended by Jade Mountain


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Revised on April 15, 2003

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