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ABOUT TOPIA: Our Name

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Topia's name comes from a book called "Gaviotas" written by Alan Weisman. The book tells a story that is impossible to put down.

Despite long and persistent political and environmental problems in Colombia, in 1971 a group of visionaries led by Paolo Lugari, a scholar and former professor, decided to create a new community based simply with what was on hand in a barren savanna in the eastern part of the country.

Now almost three decades later, the village called Gaviotas has survived numerous challenges by changing with the times.

Founder Lugari grew up in Popayan, a colonial city just south of Cali in southwestern Colombia. After finishing his studies, he spent time in the more rustic provinces of eastern Colombia. In this rural setting, he began to theorize about developing settlements in the fairly empty, well-drained savannas.

Weisman writes: "Later he would tell everyone: 'They always put social experiments in the easiest, most fertile places. We wanted the hardest place. We figured if we could do it here, we could do it anywhere.'"

Gaviotas is the story of the Colombians who learned to value a particular place- both as a natural habitat and as a 20th century community. Instead of importing costly technological solutions from
the "First World," they developed their own sustainable technologies as well an evolving environmental ethic.

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When describing Gaviotas to people they would speak out in disbelief, often calling Gaviotas a "utopia." Lugari took great offence at this comment and   would explain that "uptopia" is latin and literally means "not of this earth," he insisted instead that Gaviotas was a "topia" it was real, it was of this earth.

There is no doubt that Lugari is inspired, perhaps a genius and he inspired us.

The question to Topia's founders became are Canadians building their own topias? And if not, "why not?"

Then we went to work.

 

 

 

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