As some of you might know, I am planning to live in Latin America for a while. As I have to admit the idea is a rather idealistic project, because I have never actually come further south than Mexico. So I decided to explore the territory, and hence I am soon embarking on a trip that will take me from Caracas to Buenos Aires in two month.
Being an entrepreneurship scholar, I am naturally keen to identify, assess and develop as many opportunities for a good life over there as possible. Therefore I went through cyberspace with the mission to hunt down the most interesting projects and organizations in Venezuela/Columbia/Ecuador/Peru/Chile&Argentina. [Note: Please contact me if you have a recommendation or contact for me!]
But this is not why I write this post, but the introduction to the short presentation of some of the most wonderful utopian projects have sidetracked me while surfing Latin American cyberspace:
The surf started when I ran into the Gaviotas project. Wikipedia sums it up as “was founded in 1971 by Paolo Lugari who assembled a group of engineers and scientists in an attempt to create a mode of sustainable living in one of the least hospitable political and geographical climates in South America.” In fact what is happening is that the group has been initially funded by the United Nations as a pioneer project to gather insights about how communities in un-fertile and poor conditions can become sustainable. The Gaviotas project managed to do so, the engineers invented several new tools especially for irrigation and health, and by the time the funding contracts ran out the community had developed sufficient agricultural production that they are continuing until today. [In fact a peer from the MIT told me that they have just received another 37 Million $ in order to massively promote and expand their approach to the whole region]
The second project that came to mind when I learned about the Gaviotas was Auroville, a village in India, about which Prof. Faltin had told. Here we are talking more straight forward a cosmopolitan project, implemented by awake people who decided to create a real utopia in a beautiful Indian landside. Go and browse the website they have setup and I am sure you will be enchanted by the enlightened and peaceful impression that the inhabitants have managed to create.
Once I got these two was sure there must be more out there and I found two that I want to introduce quickly: Both projects are in the US (hence ruining the comforting argument that these kind of projects are only possible in the southern hemisphere and meant for drop-out kind of folks). The Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is very close to what the founders of the Green party must have had in mind when they first started. They describe themselves really well on their page so I prefer you explore their dream for yourself. The last example – Arcosanti – is maybe the most entrepreneurial of them all. The brain child of Paolo Soleri Arcosanti is a multitude of things; in short it is an “urban laboratory” or an “experimental town in the high desert of Arizona, 70 miles north of metropolitan Phoenix. When complete, Arcosanti will house 5000 people, demonstrating ways to improve urban conditions and lessen our destructive impact on the earth”. But it is above all a strange attractor for many initiatives and people who want to be part of entrepreneuring a dream.
So what is the message of this post? It is simple, optimistic and adding a good dose of realism to the argument for idealism: There are people who have a dream and feel the entrepreneurial urge to make it come true. They entrepreneurially construct their lives as a life-art-work as Prof. Faltin quotes Matthias Horx in his latest publication.
In the end everybody is responsible for the construction of his/her own reality.
It is our dreams that give us motivation and the energy to continue every day’s struggle.
It is entrepreneurship that enables us to realize them.
[Update: I just came across the wikipedia article on “Entrepreneur of Life ” a concept that seems to be particularly developed in Germany]