Book Review: ‘Gaviotas, A Village to Reinvent the World’

Gaviotas, A Village to Reinvent the World
By Alan Weisman

Did you ever read a book that fired your imagination and left you wondering why you had never read it before? For me, that book is Gaviotas, which tells the story of the development of an ecologically sound, sustainable village in Colombia in the midst of a previously almost deserted prairie.

The village began to take shape in 1971 when a man named Paolo Lugari wanted to build a sustainable village on the grand prairie, where nothing grew except grasses. For 30 years, Lugari and his comrades, architects, engineers, dreamers and the Guahibos, the indigenous people of the area, worked together. They tried many things, and many failed, but some succeeded.

Now they have electricity and hot water from the sun, pure drinking water, a pine forest that provides them with high quality resin to sell and with wood. They grow their own fruits and vegetables and make their own music and musical instruments. And under the pine forests, the indigenous tropical forest which had completely vanished was developing again and the wildlife, that had almost disappeared, was returning to the area.

All the people of Gaviotas, those with university training, those who came from the streets of Bogotá and the local Guahibos, all choose their own work. They do the work they like to do and they continue to dream about how to do things in new ways and to experiment to make a better life for themselves, their families and those who share the village. They have reinvented their world and we could learn much from them. Maybe, in very different circumstances, we could reinvent our own world.

Review by Green Newton member, Roz Feldberg