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Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World

Journalist Alan Weisman talks about his book GAVIOTAS: A Village to Reinvent the World, reissued late last year by Chelsea Green Publishing on the 10th anniversary of its first edition. And in the News Analysis, Rob Weissman of Wall Street Watch talks about its new report, Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America. And support Sea Change in the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Changing Climate Change Contest by clicking here. Finally, Sea Change is on Twitter — we’ll tweet you if you tweet us.

Is it possible to create a sustainable community in the harsh environment of a treeless savannah? Yes, if you use affordable, small scale technology that respects people and the planet. That’s what the villagers of Gaviotas, an “unintentional” community in the largely uninhabited eastern part of Colombia, say. Journalist Alan Weisman chronicled the making of this sustainable community in his book, GAVIOTAS.

The interview begins with Weisman talking about what that community looks like today. He talks about innovative uses of energy there — including kid power: a see-saw doubles as a water pump.

In the midst of a country plagued by violence, no one has been killed in Gaviotas in the 40 years since its founding. One remarkable reason is the hospital Gaviotas built that treats all comers — whether impoverished farmers, indigenous people from the area, or even rebels and paramilitaries. The hospital was designed with ideas from residents, Indians from surrounding areas, and a young engineer from one of Colombia’s top universities, Esperanza Connell.

But Gaviotas hasn’t kept it’s innovations to itself. It’s teamed up with poor urban communities in Colombia to bring small, apporipriate technology that leaves a light footprint on the planet. For example, solar collectors.

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