Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Alan Weisman Revisits Gaviotas on PRI’s Living on Earth

In 1998, Alan Weisman, author of the New York Times bestseller The World Without Us, was a science reporter for National Public Radio. That year he visited the South American village of Gaviotas.

Founded by scientists and engineers in the 1970s, Gaviotas started off as arid plains and became a lush and verdant oasis—a petri dish of ecological innovation and cheap, practical inventions. Simple things like a covered well with a double action pump that, incredibly, taps water six times deeper than normal models; a design for a stackable, interlocking plastic bottle to package and ship their pure, abundant water to neighboring towns, and which can then be filled with sand and recycled into building blocks; solar panels that use the region’s diffuse light to heat water; highly efficient windmills; and more.

By planting non-native species of trees where nothing in particular was growing, Gaviotans actually helped long-dormant native species recover and even thrive. In this way Gaviotas dramatically proved sustainable polyculture’s superiority to standard mono-agriculture.

Alan talked to Steve Curwood on PRI’s Living on Earth this past Sunday to talk about the 10th Anniversary Edition of his book, Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World.

Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

WEISMAN: By the moonlight I can see it – a forest rising up from this formerly empty plain. Twelve years ago researchers discovered that pines from Honduras thrive in these thin soils. Since then, Gaviotas has planted more than a million. Instead of cutting them for timber, they’re selling the renewable sap for making paint and turpentine. They don’t earn as much money this way, but Gonzalo reminds me, that’s not the point.

[GONZALO SPEAKING IN SPANISH]

TRANSLATOR: 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.

Listen now:

Download the interview and read the transcript on LOE.org.


10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More..

50 Low-Cost, Low-Tech Solutions to Save the Planet

Tired of watching people spend so much time thinking up big solutions to big problems that it has a paralyzing effect on taking action? If you’re like author Courtney White, the answer is yes. That’s why in Two Percent Solutions for the Planet, he takes readers on a journey to show how low-cost, easy-to-implement solutions […] Read More..

Beyond the War on Invasive Species – Review in Permaculture Design Magazine

This review was originally published in Permaculture Design, Issue #97, “Life on the Edge,” Fall 2015; www.PermacultureDesignMagazine.com Look in the Mirror Review by Peter Bane For its extensive scholarship, clear voice, and impassioned, hopeful message, this book is a joy to read—a slim but beautifully written teaching text which uses permaculture and ecosystem science as a lens for viewing the […] Read More..

5 Common Invasive Species and How to Manage Them

Last week, we asked authors Tao Orion and Katrina Blair to share alternative approaches to managing five different plant species commonly held to be “invasive.” St. John’s Wort, Garlic Mustard, Thistle, Oxeye Daisy, and Kudzu are often dismissed as annoyances at best and the target of aggressive eradication with harmful chemicals at worst. Orion and […] Read More..

What in the World is a Pawpaw?

Have you heard of the pawpaw? A few generations ago, most would say “yes!” You could ask just about anyone and they could tell you what this fruit looked and tasted like, and more importantly, where to find it. But today, the pawpaw remains a mystery to some and entirely unknown to others. In Pawpaw: […] Read More..
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com