And once the house is dismantled, what do we build instead? Using Gaviotas as a case study, it takes a whole lot of trial and error, and taking absolutely no ideas or assumptions for granted. It took community members without "sanctioned" education, youth, and to some extent sociologists to have a forum to voice their opinions and approach the issues with the same spirit of innovation. This took years and years to happen, but the results have restored my faith in humanity just a little bit.
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Listen to the story. The founders experimented with agriculture and developed a host of affordable technologies that could be exported to other tropical communities. In , science journalist Alan Weisman produced a documentary on the project that ran on National Public Radio programs, including this one. In he wrote the book, "Gaviotas, a Village to Reinvent the World.
And he came into the studio to talk to us here at Living on Earth. We started by listening to an excerpt from his original radio documentary. Twelve years ago researchers discovered that pines from Honduras thrive in these thin soils. Since then, Gaviotas has planted more than a million.
Prostitution and alcoholism, because salaries are too high. Then the oil is gone. Biologists have now counted at least forty 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. You stand right next to it and you really have to squint hard to realize that there are rows of pines between these really tall jacarondas and ficus and monkey pods and laurels and curary, and all these other beautiful trees that are growing there. Well, it turns out that the pine trees, growing among these natural species, are still producing plenty of resin. Can you tell me about that? What Gaviotas is trying to do is the same thing that they have done with their pine resin plantation?
If this works, Gaviotas believes that treeless savannas all over the world could be the place to grow energy crops sustainably. But to finance themselves, the Gaviotans must also market their technology. Here they produce the innovative devices that Gaviotas uses and sells, such as the windmills I saw on the way here.
Then he leads me across the factory floor to a machine resembling a stationary bicycle which uses pedal power to strip stalks of Cassava. All I see is a yellow pump handle attached to a covered well. Instead of raising and lowering the heavy piston inside a pipe, this one leaves the piston stationary and lifts the pipe made of plastic tubing. This simple, inexpensive pump has revolutionized rural life across Colombia for people who used to haul their water in buckets from muddy tropical rivers.
But Gonzalo has something even more imaginative to show me. As they rise and descend water gushes from a vertical pipe into an open cement tank. And they realized that one of the problems was when you ship water, usually in cylindrical plastic bottles, and it takes up a lot of space. So somebody was looking one day at a kid playing with Lego blocks and realized: wow, if we put some indentation on one side of the bottle and put some bumps on the other side they could all fit together and they could stack much more tightly.
That turned out to be a boon to stores to put these things on shelves and kids were saving the bottles? There is so much water underneath this area, and so few people who live out there. CURWOOD: Now the hope for Gaviotas was always to develop technologies that are appropriate to the tropics and serve as the model for other communities around the world.
So how big of an impact has Gaviotas had on the region, and, for that matter, what kind of effect has it had around the world? Where else are people adopting the ideas out of Gaviotas? Gaviotas did a very good job of outreach in Colombia.
I was once in a Payas Indian village in southern Colombia where the installation of Gaviotas pumps immediately cured cholera. There are people in various parts of Colombia that are very grateful to Gaviotas. Alan Weisman, thanks so much for taking this time.
Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World 2nd Edition Read PDF Free
A bibliography in progress, made possible through the Carnegie-Whitney Grant. From utopia to topia. The product was Gaviotas, a village founded in the llanos, or Columbian savanna, where no roads led and nothing much grew. It was in this harshest of places that a diverse group of people, from engineers to artists, created a community that was self-sustaining and functional without adding to the pollution and distruction of an already overtaxed planet. Because what was being done was new, the community of llaneros needed to be creative an inventive.
A village to reinvent the world