Image Credit: Las Gaviotas. "Living on Earth" broadcast on NPR. Founded by Colombian Paolo Lugari, Las Gaviotas has out-innovated some of the world's biggest corporations in its effort to create a sustainable society:Las Gaviotas was a feature in yesterday's
"Built from scratch in a treeless corner of [Colombia], this community of scientists, tinkerers, and refugees - now numbering more than 200 - has created a verdant rainforest where once there was nothing but scrub grass. It has also devised and deployed dozens of inventions with a frequency and success rate that puts some of America's most storied technology companies to shame.
"Its products include a hydroelectric microturbine that generates 30 kilowatts and thousands of RPMs from a mere 1-meter drop in a low-fall dam; a system of solar panels, spherical boilers, and tanks that can provide hot water for housing projects as large as 30,000 units; and a remote-controlled zeppelin that uses video cameras to spot forest fires." CNN Money
Alan Weisman wrote a book on Las Gaviotas, and he has recently updated it and re-issued it in a new edition. In addition to advancing renewable energy technologies and successfully creating a verdant forest out of nothing, Las Gaviotas has some lessons on what is most appropriate technology for a post-carbon world, and what really makes human beings happy. Says one of the community's leaders: "We believe austerity is a better path to happiness and to man's comfort. In Colombia's oil camps, what have they gotten? Prostitution and alcoholism, because salaries are too high. Then the oil is gone. What's left is misery."