Author of the critically acclaimed New York Times best seller The World Without Us, Alan Weisman is an award-winning journalist whose reports have appeared in Harperis, the New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Discover, and Orion, among others, and on National Public Radio. A former contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, he is a senior radio producer for Homelands Productions and teaches international journalism at the University of Arizona. He lives in western Massachusetts.
In the early 1970s, a unique community was founded in the los llanos region of Colombia. Located north of the Amazon rain forest, this region is an expansive savannah, sparsely populated and generally considered uninhabitable. Gaviotas originated out of the belief that the current state of urban expansion and poverty and the continued depletion of natural nonrenewable resources could not be sustained and that the future required people to learn how to live in harsh, inhospitable environments and to do so in an ecologically sound and sustainable manner. Journalist Weisman tells the story of a remarkable and diverse group of individuals (engineers, biologists, botanists, agriculturists, sociologists, musicians, artists, doctors, teachers, and students) who helped the village evolve into a very real, socially viable, and self-sufficient community for the future. The people of Gaviotas today produce innovative technologies (solar collectors, irrigation systems, windmills, and hydroponic gardens) that use the environment without depleting or destroying it. While some of their creative endeavors have not succeeded, even the failures tend to spawn ideas for future successes. Weisman does a fine job of detailing Gaviotas's evolution and placing it within the larger global historical context. The story he presents is wonderful testament to human creativity, commitment, and effort toward building a socially viable and environmentally sustainable future.‘Karen Collamore Sullivan, Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Saginaw, MI