Below is an eco-project concept in Fiji. Although this project seeks to be
carbon neutral, the emissions from long-distance flights to Fiji are likely to
overwhelm the good intentions. However, it is an interesting concept, perhaps
something that could be developed into an approach for a car-free
Fiji Island Eco-Project Recruits Online "Tribe"
June 1, 2006
NEW YORK - If you've ever dreamed of living the simple life on a tropical
island, a new online eco-tourism venture could turn that fantasy into reality
for just a few hundred dollars.
Tribewanted.com -- a new spin on the concept of timeshare vacations -- is the
brainchild of two British entrepreneurs who are seeking 5,000 people to join
an online community to oversee the sustainable development of a 200-acre
(81-hectare) Pacific island.
For a fee ranging from US$220 to US$660, members can join the "tribe" for one
to three years and buy the right to visit the island of Vorovoro in Fiji for
between one and three weeks.
The three-year project will be filmed for a documentary and weekly videos will
be available online, but organizers say a key principle is: "This is not
reality TV -- it's real life."
"Unlike reality television, this isn't about the game," co-founder Ben Keene
said on Tuesday. "There is no winner, there's no voting people off."
"This is about real people coming together with a real purpose, to work in
partnership with a real tribal community," he told Reuters in New York during
a recruitment trip.
Around 500 people have signed up so far, ranging in age from 18 to 67. "We've
got people from about 18 different countries already, so this idea of creating
a United Nations tribe is really coming together," Keene said.
The ecological aspect is fundamental to the project, which has a budget of 1
million pounds (US$1.9 million).
'VERY SIMPLE SUSTAINABLE VILLAGE'
"It may not sound like a lot, but we're looking at a very simple sustainable
village, not big concrete structures," Keene said. "As much as this is an
adventure for everyone involved, we're also trying to raise awareness about
Tribe members will design the infrastructure of the island, from solar power
systems to nonpolluting toilet facilities.
Experts will work with the local tribal chief, Tui Mali, to make key decisions
along with the tribe members who will vote online for what they want.
"At any one time you've got the 4,900 people in the online community and 100
on the island," Keene said.
Keene, who has been running an alternative travel Web site, said co-founder
Mark James proposed the idea as a way to use online communities for something
tangible in the real world.
"Instead of just sharing music or chatting or whatever, we can say we've got a
purpose, we want to create a sustainable, ecological village that we can then
go visit," Keene said.
"We went online and we went island hunting, posing as millionaire businessmen
to all these brokers around the world," Keene said, adding that they
considered islands from Central America to the Philippines before settling on
Vorovoro currently has four inhabitants -- Tui Mali and his brother and their
wives, all from the neighboring island of Mali. "It's the head chief's
privilege to live on Vorovoro," Keene said. "He wants to open up this space to
bring money into the community, to support education and the local fishermen."
Tribewanted.com has a three-year lease, after which it will revert to the
Transportation to Fiji is not included in the membership fee.
When members visit, starting in September, they can choose to help build
facilities, go fishing or just read a book on the beach. Carpenters and others
with useful skills are encouraged to join, but Keene said anyone with a sense
of adventure was welcome.
"We're looking for people who have ideas for how they'd like to pass on their
skills, whether they're yoga instructors or sports teachers or maybe artists,"
Story by Claudia Parsons
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE