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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book filled with hope
When Jessie Jackson refrains, "Keep hope alive! Keep hope alive!" we were with him, but I, for one, was left wondering where this hope was. Alan Weisman's "Gaviotas", a chronicle of the Colombian village Gaviotas, is the real McCoy in black and white. Over and over again, "Gaviotas" details the hope-filling victories towards a smarter,...
Published on 16 Sept. 1998

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring but Bitter-sweet
At its best, Gaviotas is a wonderfully inspiring story of real people facing real problems, and coming up with real solutions (which sometimes work and somtimes don't work). The book is brimming with interesting tidbits, stories, and personalities. What is absent is a more coherent account of the implications of Gaviotas for the rest of the world. To be sure, there...
Published on 12 May 1999


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book filled with hope, 16 Sept. 1998
By A Customer
When Jessie Jackson refrains, "Keep hope alive! Keep hope alive!" we were with him, but I, for one, was left wondering where this hope was. Alan Weisman's "Gaviotas", a chronicle of the Colombian village Gaviotas, is the real McCoy in black and white. Over and over again, "Gaviotas" details the hope-filling victories towards a smarter, more harmonious way of living with simple, clever, appropriate technology leading the way.
"Gaviotas" talks about the power of creative thought sharply focussed on simple, appropriate technology for totally ignored boonies of the Colombia's tropical plains. It talks about the creation of an extremely dedicated community out of an infertile, barren plains in the middle of war-torn Colombia. It talks about the seemingly miraculous transformation of grassland into rainforest and the tireless dedication of it's creators. It talks about the power of community, networking and partnerships with universities.
I was, however, disappointed by the relative lack of contact people, organizations, and publishings for people interested in creating their own community. The story of the Gaviotas community is so inspiring it deserves a newsgroup of its own on the internet!
Being an engineer by trade, I was left brimming with questions. How did they come up with the process for ultra-black copper sheeting? Where can I get the six films about Gaviotas made by Pepe Gomez? How can a roof focus and reflect heat away from a building? Can a Gaviotas be created here in the U.S. or is life too easy here?
"Gaviotas" is beautifully written; a real turner. I had to tear myself away from it each night so I could get to work on time in the morning and had dreams of creating my own Gaviotas in the U.S.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaviotas holds out a real hope for the future of this Planet, 22 July 1998
By A Customer
Come along as Alan Weisman deftly weaves the true story of one man's dream and many peoples making. A dream of hope for our planet and belief in the triumph of many human spirits.
Gaviotas is a dream that Colombian Paolo Lugari had over 30 years ago. A dream that Paolo never let go of and with the help of an indomitable group of engineers, teachers, doctors, students, musicians and native Colombian Indians he has succeeded in accpmplishing. Blessed along the way with grants from the United Nations as well as others, they have brought that dream, Gaviotas, to fruition.
Paolo always believed that a self-sustainable community could prosper, working with nature instead of against her. To that end he found a piece of environmentally challenged land in the Savannas of Colombia and began his dream.
The engineers went to work. Their solar technology runs everything from lights to phones to water pumps and heaters to water purification plants. They discovered how to ! get solar energy from the low light of rainy days, since the rainy season at Gaviotas lasts for 8 months of the year. The children's see-saw is used to draw water from the well. They grow their own food, then cook it with methane from cow manure. They"air conditioned" the hospital with centuries old techniques using not one whit of electricity. They've even managed to re-establish an ancient rain forest, and a thriving renewable industry to go with it.
This would be a remarkable feat anywhere. That it was accomplished in Colombia is astounding. Colombia is as battle-scared as any nation on earth. In one decade alone over two thousand poloticians and two presidental candidates were murdered.
Through all of this Gaviotas has thrived and willingly made changes when needed. They have shared unstintingly with those in need all around the world, all the while staying consciously unarned while surrounded by battling vigilantes, government troops and guerillas.!
Weisman has told the story of the Gaviotans and their ! accomplishments so beautifully, it is one of those rare stories that I did not want to end. And in reality it has not ended because Gaviotas continues to grow and prosper.
In a world where most of us doubt that these things can really be accomplished Gaviotas holds out a real hope for the future of this Planet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discover a real-life Utopia on the arid plains of Columbia., 4 May 1998
By A Customer
Twenty-seven years ago, a group of South Americans envisioned a society in which limited resources would form the base of a sustainable future. To bring their experiment to life, they chose a site in the sparsely populated and nearly arid plains of eastern Colombia. They called their village "Gaviotas" and went on to create a host of ingenious and relatively affordable technologies. Alan Weisman produced a documentary on Gaviotas for National Public Radio in 1994. After producing his radio documentary, Weisman maintained an avid interest in Gaviotas. He returned to the village several times in the past few years, and updates the Gaviotas story in his new book: "Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World." Weisman, a journalist based in Tucson, AZ, has covered some of the world's worst ecological disasters, but when he needs his faith in the future restored, he always returns to Gaviotas where, he says, "people seem to have gotten it right." This book documents the successful implemntation of a self-sufficient, harmonious, ecologically based community that is building a sustainable economy. Gaviotas comes as close as human society can to achieving a real Utopia - and perhaps will serve as a model for a more balanced way of life for all of us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope in tough times, 25 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World (Paperback)
I doubt I can add much to the other 10 reviews but I had to highlight the ingenuity and hope which this book brings. Yes, Weisman is a journalist telling a sellable story of this inspirational community and project in Colombia. Of course he picks the best bits of the story but that's what stories should do. We all know the realities of trying to achieve some lofty goal. But it's the number of things this group of people managed to do, the obstacles they overcame (including drug barrons and warlords) and their ability to persist which I loved the most. It tells of children's play things being designed to pump well water, of a forest regenerating where no one thought it possible, of equality and opportunity for all, of being promised funds only to be let down. It's all here (you'll laugh, you'll cry...) and I'd encourage you to read this if you've had just a bit too much of how hopeless everything is. An awesome book, in my opinion, and if you know an engineer - give them this book as a present. It might change the world!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaviotas Shows People Working Together CAN Make a Difference, 11 July 1998
By A Customer
Gaviotas describes the trials & tribulations of Environmental Improvement in a place called the LLANOS in Colombia-The book has inspired me to help fund a project to bring Internet to Schools in the Caribbean-We want to thank Alan Weisman for risking his life-That was the part in the book that was a sort of wake-up call for me personally-and bringing back the stories of people's lives that have made an incredible difference in the preservation of our planet. The book also shows the positive and hard-working nature the Colombian people pride themselves on-yet it is never shown the way that GAVIOTAS does. All Colombianos should buy this book for their family to enjoy-and buy an extra one and send to your relatives in Colombia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational!, 25 Jun. 1999
By A Customer
Gaviotas is the true story of a group of people using their creative powers to invent a society that is environmentally sustainable without limiting the luxuries we take for granted living in the US. The story reads like a novel-- I had to keep reminding myself that this is real! A must-read. This is my Christmas present to everyone I know this year!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Culture is the mother of invention, 9 Mar. 2002
By 
Ms H. M. Conner "where Mary Poppins meets Att... (downwind of Bournville) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World (Paperback)
I've always thought 'necessity is the mother of invention' to be among the more poisonous memes to have crawled out of our collective subconscious. It has wicked consequences.
So imagine my delight on reading this account of how a bunch of people, who all had other places to be and other things to do, got together in a spirit of good-natured curiosity to build a culture where everyone's happiness was a primary concern, and where knowledge was valued more highly than wealth or glamour.
Looks like it's time to retire Old Mother Necessity, and let Mamma Culture start filling the world with homes, gardens, playgrounds and forests.
Can't think of a better gift for the future than to give this book to a school or library (or school library) near you.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sustainable living, tools and design that really, truly work, 8 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
Disclaimer: I do not know Alan Weisman and do not hold stock in Chelsea Green.
"Gaviotas: A Village To Reinvent the World" is the story of the failures and successes of small but visionary sustainable community project in the "wastes" of Colombia's llano. The project succeeds, fails, and succeeds again in spite of drug war, guerrilla war, corruption (uh, I guess this goes without saying), inhospitable environment, unpredictable if not lame government policies, fires, chronic underfunding, technology learning curves, and more. What the pioneers of Gaviotas lack in stability and funding they make up with faith, cajones, and inspired resourcefulness. And a lot of hard hard work.
The machines the Gaviotans make and the town they build are dreams made real. Power generators using wind and water, solar-powered pressure cookers and water purifiers--they even manage to make a solar-powered refridgerator that operates on ammonia instead of freon. "Why make blueprints?" one of the engineers says. "You're going to build it anyway. It's easier to design in three dimensions."
Gaviotas-the-place sounds like a slice of paradise (albeit surrounded by chaos and otras cosas muy malas). No crime. No police. Neighbors who help each other. Excellent homemade music. Constant innovation, frequently in the guise of inspired play.
Author Alan Weisman is an NPR reporter/NY Times Magazine (et al.) writer who handles the big story with ease. Very readable. Not so techy as to alienate the non-geeks. Written with a two-part focus on the people *and* the machines they design and build. Plenty of humor, reverence, and plainly stated cold hard facts.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring but Bitter-sweet, 12 May 1999
By A Customer
At its best, Gaviotas is a wonderfully inspiring story of real people facing real problems, and coming up with real solutions (which sometimes work and somtimes don't work). The book is brimming with interesting tidbits, stories, and personalities. What is absent is a more coherent account of the implications of Gaviotas for the rest of the world. To be sure, there are plenty of these implications voiced by the residents of Gaviotas themselves, which is perhaps as the author intended. But these are too scattered. If the author himself had taken more time to step back and do some pleading himself, it would have been a much more satisfying book. But as it is, I would recommend it. But it should be read in tandem with a book like Richard Douthwaite's "Short Circuit" or Michael Shuman's "Going Local" -- both of these titles have more analytical and social substance, and are less anecdotal in tone than Gaviotas.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too chatty; no data, no drawings, poor bibliography., 23 Sept. 1998
By A Customer
If you have heard Weisman speak on NPR there is no reason to read this book. If you want to espouse the eco-cause you need to back up ideas for change with data, drawings, annotated biblography.
For a journalist, Weisman is too uncritical in his analysis of the problems found at Gaviotas. There may be wonderful things happening in the llanos (especially the reforestation), but little of it seems capable of transfer to other settings. His anti-capitalist bias keeps him from doing cost/benefit thnking, much less analysis. Also, this has far too much "dialog" reporting, so that it is neither fiction nor journalism.
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Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World
Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World by Alan Weisman (Paperback - 21 Oct. 1999)
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