A Review of Alan Weisman’s Gaviotas, A Village to Reinvent the World

By Fran Baxter

This book is a true story that weaves in and out of the lives of the people who formed a village in an inhospitable area of eastern Colombia. A gripping story of the many processes, personalities, successes and failures of forming a rain forest and a community in the middle of a rain-leached savanna.

The book poses many questions: How do the villagers continue to strive in the midst of political and drug culture wars? How do they not only survive, but ultimately design and build innovative inventions such as solar kettles to sterilize drinking water, wind mills light enough to convert tropical breezes into energy, and efficient water pumps hooked to children’s see-saw? Additionally, these villagers used hydroponics for growing sustainable harvested crops, produced high quality resins from a renewable pine forest, and discovered many medicinal tropical plants.

Yet, Gaviotas is more than a story about an incredible collection of inventions. It is a story of a peaceful, prosperous place filled with music, laughter and loving human souls dedicated to community and sustainable living. To quote in part from the Real Goods catalog synopsis: "To call this book inspiring is akin to calling the Amazon a winter creek."

Available in soft cover for $22.95 from Real Goods or on the Rocky Mountain Chapter Sierra Club Web site for $16.07 plus shipping and handling. Chelsea Green Publishing Co., ISBN 0930031954.