This book is about your health, your home and how we all can learn to live in harmony. Gunter Pauli reflects on the obvious questions we do not ask, and guides the reader to the obvious answers that are presented as the best we can imagine today. Hopefully tomorrow we can even do better. The thought provoking flow of thoughts in this book questions the very production and consumption system that characterizes modern day society. Gunter Pauli refuses to put anyone on a negative path, he wants each one of us to look for the better. This is the "Zen" of the book, and you can embark on your personal Zen: stop and think for a moment about being healthy and happy. Simple dialogues on simple things like your daily breakfast and your kids bedroom reveal a world around your microcosm that is so similar to the macrocosm that envelops us. And while we are increasingly aware of the threats to the environment that is our life support system, this book introduces a learning system that permits you to navigate from the universe to your home, enabling each one of us to pursue happiness. If we can take charge of our own being, then we can master the Art of Blue; just like our wonderful blue earth, with a blue ocean and a blue sky.
Preface “in everything there is a portion of everything” Democritus of Abdera Thinking back, 40 years ago we had only put into practice five percent of what we originally planned at the Las Gaviotas project. The reason being that we have been at all times on a path of co-evolution, constantly searching for temporary truth and finding new connections, experiences and knowledge. Change is something permanent and a daily experience in Gaviotas. The only fixed idea is tropical sustainability in close and productive harmony with nature. This makes Las Gaviotas unalignable and impossible to squeeze in pre-established mental schemes. This ability to step outside the box is what kept us from collapsing. Las Gaviotas is a new renaissance in the tropics, a project of human advancement shared by people of different disciplines, some even without one; artists (any worker is an artist), engineers and inventors, all thinking and working at the same time and believing that maturity means making dreams come true. It emerged spontaneously, passed from chaos to cosmos, always relying on freedom as the only virtue which, apart from respect for the dignity of people, gives free reign to imagination. The human race has its origins within the tropics, and it is in the tropical zone where another homo sapien must emerge if extinction is to be avoided. This homo sapien must cherish life, be in love with life itself and able to craft a brighter future. Indeed, we must move from utopia to tangible issues, from dreams to reality, leading lives filled with enthusiasm and delight. My father said: “an enthusiastic person is worth more than a depressed Nobel Laureate.” Las Gaviotas is a community in which trust replaces flow charts, where crisis generates the framework for self-organization. In its microcosm, the individual is connected with the community. This is why we have no mayor, no priest and no police. Religion is left to the conscience of every individual. We live with each other and respect our differences. Our work is very intense, but we do not make use of planning because it blocks imagination, ingenuity and creativity – our most valuable assets. Las Gaviotas will never aspire to be a model because this would amount to a concept that has ceased to evolve, is straight, inflexible and provides no space for innovation. We want to inspire, to orientate, keeping in mind the circumstances of every region, rather than replicate. We do not agree with standardized curricula which overlook the environment and how different each student is. Traditional education instructs in bits and pieces without creating a synthesis afterwards. In Las Gaviotas we are all students. Every day new challenges appear regarding the use of energy, water, architecture, health, forests, food and other items. Analyzing, designing and finding solutions on a horizontal level is a communal activity. The results are glocal, they work for Las Gaviotas as well as the tropical zones of the world; the massive production that results generates a large part of Las Gaviotas’ economic income. Our research and development is thorough and expensive and produces simple solutions. It is the difficult art of simplicity. In our way of work, intuition is not less important than rationalism. First we build several prototypes, we test them and modify them along the way, by trial and error, and then we record them in small documents. This is our artistic form of research and development. In this context and pertinent to the whole of Las Gaviotas (diversity in the universalistic-unity) we can highlight some achievements like the auto-sufficient rural hospital that utilizes various renewable energy technologies. The systems of ventilation and the extraction of humidity in underground conducts are inspired by Moorish architecture. This is an independent architecture in proportion to the landscape, like a spaceship which has landed in the savannah of the Orinoco. Afterwards its transformable design allowed its conversion into a bottling factory for pure tropical water. An ex-director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said: “The level of health of a community cannot be measured by beds in hospitals, but by the number of drinking water faucets.” In Las Gaviotas we believe in cooperation more than in competition. For instance, if there had not been a symbiosis of something as small as a tropical mushroom with the root of the Caribbean Pine, we would not have anything as splendid as the biodiversity in the tropical rainforest of Las Gaviotas, encompassing some 8,000 acres, producing excretions or resins which we process in our biofactory. We then produce colophon, turpentine and biodiesel (B100) without any chemicals, without transesterification or waste. We then operate all our machines and power plants using the biodiesel. The most important aspect of biodiesel production is that it forces us to plant forests, to cover barren, diminished soil with a mixture of plants of other edible forest species, i.e., generate a large-scale biodiversity to recover the skin of the earth. The forest of Las Gaviotas, radiates with beauty. It has been planted with the economic surplus generated by the installation of thousands of solar thermal installations fabricated by the Centre of Las Gaviotas in the Colombian cities, proving that science and technology here must be tropical; we have to be aware of living in the equatorial belt of the planet, which means in the tropic of the Tropics, where in spite of the largest primary, biological productivity, we have always been affected by poverty. Ironically we say that we live the miracle of poverty, because we are poor where it is impossible to be poor. Our education does not allow us to see the obvious, the substance. In response to this shortcoming, Las Gaviotas has always taken its inspiration from nature, which the human species belongs to, observing its connections, behaviors and metabolism, its way of regeneration and where new forms of life emerge again and again. This is the moment to highlight the highest priority, which is to recover the skin of the earth by replanting it. The biological function of the earth’s biomass depends on the current composition, behavior and organization of the atmosphere which still sustains life, especially human life as we know it. Conservation of the atmospheric architecture goes beyond simple global warming. At Las Gaviotas we say that a text without a context is a pretext. This task of renewing the infrastructure of vegetation, of reviving Earth has to be declared a world security issue, something that goes beyond Nations. There is nothing more unjust and absurd than applying the same solutions to different problems and circumstances. This is why it is so important for experience to be part of education - an education which teaches us to deal with uncertainty as something which is always present. The cultural level of a community is measured basically by its capacity to overcome crises, to see alternatives where others do not see them. With this book, The Art of Zen of the Blue Economy, Professor Gunter Pauli helps us, using his mental architecture, to visualize the things that nature does not immediately reveal to us. Let me close with a thought by Leonardo Da Vinci, who agrees with Democritus and says “Everything comes from everything, everything is made of everything and everything comes back to everything”. Gaviotas, Orinoco Region, Colombia, September 2010 Paolo Lugari General Director Centro Las Gaviotas Foundation