Synopses & Reviews
Los Llanos—the rain-leached, eastern savannas of war-ravaged Colombia—are among the most brutal environments on Earth and an unlikely setting for one of the most hopeful environmental stories ever told. Here, in the late 1960s, a young Colombian development worker named Paolo Lugari wondered if the nearly uninhabited, infertile llanos could be made livable for his country's growing population. He had no idea that nearly four decades later, his experiment would be one of the world's most celebrated examples of sustainable living: a permanent village called Gaviotas.In the absence of infrastructure, the first Gaviotans invented wind turbines to convert mild breezes into energy, hand pumps capable of tapping deep sources of water, and solar collectors efficient enough to heat and even sterilize drinking water under perennially cloudy llano skies. Over time, the Gaviotans' experimentation has even restored an ecosystem: in the shelter of two million Caribbean pines planted as a source of renewable commercial resin, a primordial rain forest that once covered the llanos is unexpectedly reestablishing itself.Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez has called Paolo Lugari "Inventor of the World." Lugari himself has said that Gaviotas is not a utopia: "Utopia literally means [no place.' We call Gaviotas a topia, because it's real."Relive their story with this special 10th-anniversary edition of Gaviotas, complete with a new afterword by the author describing how Gaviotas has survived and progressed over the past decade.
"After the fall of so much idealism in Latin America, it is wonderful to discover this luminous book about a luminous place in Colombia. Alan Weisman takes us to Gaviotas via many stories. The path is completely engrossing." Julia Alvarez
"Alan Weisman's Gaviotas is the ongoing saga of what real, hands-on sustainability means, calluses and all, practiced in the most demanding social and environmental circumstances conceivable. This inspiring story demonstrates that the best design comes from the severest limits." Paul Hawken
"Alan Weisman has captured what we always knew but seem to constantly forget in our drugged industrial lives that all the solutions are within us. It has taken a small town in Colombia to show us the way to go home. We need Gaviotas more than it needs us. May this book have a million readers." Charles Bowden
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 in 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. This is why Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez has called Lugari "The Inventor of the World."
Includes bibliographical references (p. [229-230]).
Table of Contents
PART I The Savanna
PART II The Tools
PART III The Trees