Thursday, April 23, 2009

Imagination of the Gaviotas


"The only deserts are deserts of the imagination. Gaviotas is an oasis of imagination." -Paolo Lugari

Gaviotas is an ecovillage of about 200 pepole located in Colombia. It was founded in 1971 by Paolo Lugari who assembled a group of engineers and scientists in an attempt to create a mode of sustainable living in one of the least hospitable political and geographical climates in South America.

For three decades, Gaviotans - peasants, scientists, artists, and former street kids - have struggled to build an oasis of imagination and sustainability in the remote, barren savannas of eastern Colombia, an area ravaged by political terror. They have planted millions of trees, thus regenerating an indigenous rainforest. They farm organically and use wind and solar power. Every family enjoys free housing, community meals, and schooling. There are no weapons, no police, no jail. There is no mayor.

They have invented some great technology and made sure it was free to the public. They created three significant technologies.

The first that is mentioned is a more efficient pump that can pump water six times as deep as conventional wells with less energy/effort, so little that even a child could do it, and they did! The Gaviotas converted the pump into a see-saw used by children to pump their own water at school!

Second, they created a solar cooking system using a closed loop filled with solar heated oil that ran around pots to heat the food inside, and the oil was stored in an insulated container so food could be cooked 24hrs a day.

And the last technology that I have read about (probably not the last thing they have invented) is a solar water purifier, it is a system to boil water and have it available for drinking without any manual effort.

To see pictures and read more about the Gaviotas and their technology please visit http://mingo.info-science.uiowa.edu/~winter/engineering.html and also http://www.friendsofgaviotas.org

The old saying - "if there is a will, there is a way" still holds true! We can restore the earth to its natural abundance and live sustainably without fossil fuels, so let's get started!

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