Wednesday, July 27, 2005

To take a moment away from the hopelessness that is engulfing people these days...I was trying to come up with stories that give me hope, and I remembered the introduction to a book I read years ago, called Is There No Other Way: The Search for a Nonviolent Future (a book I would recommend to all the cynics out there who think that nonviolence doesn't work...it is full of stories about how it has overcome even the most brutal oppression and violence)...anyway, the introduction starts with a reference to a town called Gaviotas...which I had never heard of...and after reading about it I am surprised that it isn't on the syllabus for a every classroom...the story starts like this:
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In the 60's a man called Paolo Lugari Castrillon flew over an uninviting section of the Colombian LLanos (barren plains in Eastern Colombia) and thought to himself, so the story goes, that if people could live there, they could live anywhere...so in 1971 a group of inventors, laborers and researchers set up what some have called "a village to reinvent the world"....it is now home to artists, scientists, former street children and the Guahibo Indians...200 in all...the United Nations has called Gaviotas the model for sustainable development and Gabriel Garcia Marquez has called Paolo Lugari the "inventor of the world"...
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So what is so special about Gaviotas?
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Gaviotas runs on wind, solar and hydro energy...the seesaw that the children play on is actually an efficient water pump invented in Gaviotas which can draw water out of extremely deep sources with the minimum of effort...so the children play and the village is supplied with water..
The wind turbines (windmills that supply energy) were designed to best suit the type of wind found in the area...so as you approach the village you are greeted with huge metal sunflowers turning in the breeze...
The hospital treats both the army and the guerillas (they don't ask for ID's, they just treat whoever needs help and so they are respected by both sides)... This hospital houses the patients' families in hammocks and they spend the day tending to the hydroponic vegetables in the adjacent greenhouse...(the government has asked that the hospital be closed down because they didn't have a resident surgeon, hopefully that has been or will be reversed)
The methane that comes from the waste generated by the cattle runs through air ducts to the hospital kitchen where it fires up the stove burners...nothing is wasted.
They planted a particular type of pine tree that was the only one that could grow in the harsh soil...what they now have is over a million trees which in their turn have created the right type of shelter for plants and trees that had disappeared ages ago to grow again from seeds that lay dormant in the soil...so they have given birth to a forest with over 40 spieces of plants...
The village has no prison, no police, no mayor and no laws but common sense...if anyone does something innappropriate (like an example of a store owner who addmitted to overcharging) that person is shunned until he/she makes up for the wrong..they have no locks no weapons ...and all this in the middle of one of the worst ongoing conflicts in the region..
While the US supplies the Colombian army with weapons to fight 'the war on drugs' it is actually the right wing groups and the military who are running the drug trade, and it is left wing guerrillas that are being targetted...the civilians and the country suffer in the most savege civil conflicts..and in the middle of it all is Gaviotas...
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The dream is real, my friends. The failure to make it work is the unreality. Toni Cade Bambara
Groundless hope, like unconditional love, is the only kind worth having. John Perry Barlow
(quoted from Znet)
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Gaviotas Rising: An NPR documentary
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For more on Colombia:
Colombia: Our Other War Thomas Oliphant
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Just to add another little story that I love from the same book...it is the story of a civil rights activist called David Hartsough...he was sitting with other activists at a lunch counter in Virginia in the 60's, peacefully protesting against segregation...an angry man stuck a knife to his chest and told him that if he didn't leave he would run it through his heart...David looked the man in the face and said "Well, brother, you do what you feel you have to; and I'm going to try to love you all the same"...the attacker took a moment and then dropped the knife and left crying...and that is the power of nonviolence...(p. 90-91 in Is There No Other Way by Michael Nagler)
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2 comments:

garz said...

hmmm .. a world with no violence, this is intresting, is this village for real, mind-me i did not finish reading the post as i was scanning it, i really liked the way you think and the information in here is rich. Thank you for your time too post such informative things.

kwtia said...

Hi garz,
Thanks for coming by and thanks for the kind words..yes indeed, the village is for real...and it gives one hope for a better world...at least it does for me...take care and see you around..:)