When we began conceiving of this field school back in 2007, the world was beginning to face a series of crises: political, economic, and environmental to name a few. For example, in our young adulthood we encountered September 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the 2007/8 financial collapse, and a growing awareness that climate change is real and has tangible consequences for our lives. Uruguay stood out in terms of progressive leanings, sustainability, and stability:
- Uruguay is on the forefront of sustainability on a policy level.
- Uruguay has South America’s first sustainable public school
- In less than 10 years Uruguay made the shift to nearly 95% electricity from clean energy sources (without government subsidies)
- A culture that is turning away from consumerism. Listen to former Uruguayan president Jose Mujica!
- Uruguay has significant social services, leading to social stability
- Uruguay leads in progressive democracy
- Uruguay is ranked (alongside only 19 other countries) as a Full Democracy, according the the Economist’s Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. To put it in perspective, the United States is listed as a Flawed Democracy.
- Uruguay practices direct democracy, wherein citizens can challenge laws through a popular vote
- Political stability, little corruption, progressive political leanings (human rights, social safety net). (New York Times: Uruguay’s Quiet Democratic Miracle)
- Uruguay was the first country in the world to ratify the International Domestic Workers convention, extending worker protection to predominantly women working in these fields.
- Climate stability. We researched climate change predictions on flood and drought and found that the Argentinean pampas and all of Uruguay are predicted to have little change relative to the rest of the world. All of these factors together cut out basically all of Central America, coastal North America, some of Africa, and some of Asia. No major reoccurring natural disasters including:
- No hurricanes (Check out hurricane prevalence in Southeast Asia and Central America here.)
- While Uruguay does have a few tornadoes on record, the United States actually experiences 75% of the world’s tornadoes.
- No volcanoes and very little seismic activity (Most of Asia, Central America and Western North and South America have unsafe levels of seismic activity.)
- Very little change in flooding and drought brought on by climate change (check out precipitation and temperature predictions by the IPCC here)
- Not hugely impacted by sea level rise (see predictions here).
- Ideal climate for sustainable agriculture.
- Mild winters and lots of sunlight necessary (this cuts out most of Canada and Northern Europe).
- High quality soil. Uruguay is one of the few areas in the world with this high quality soil.
- Also, plentiful access to fresh water per person, with projections up to 2025 (Rio de la Plata is widest fresh water river in the world). This cuts out much of the world.
- Other fun aspects of Uruguay
Why Colonia, Uruguay?
- Close to a beach with good swimming and fresh water (our land is 5 miles from playa fomento)
- Close enough (but far enough away) from a world class city. We are 2 hours by bus and ferry from Buenos Aires. (“To call Buenos Aires a cultural giant is an understatement.”)
- Close to a small town with most services (we are within 10 miles to Nueva Helvecia, Rosario, and Colonia Valdense where we can find most things we would need)
- Also see our FAQs for information about our local partners and possible excursions from this area