Online 'tribe' gets an expensive island view

For a fee, you can join an online tribe to develop a Pacific island in ecologically friendly way.
For a fee, you can join an online tribe to develop a Pacific island in ecologically friendly way.
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Attention "Survivor" fans: 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. Just be prepared to part with some real money too. — 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 Pacific island.

For a fee ranging from $220 to $660, members can join the "tribe" for one to three years and gain the right to visit the island of Vorovoro in Fiji for between one and three weeks. Predictably, transportation to Fiji is not included in the membership fee.

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."

"This is about real people coming together with a real purpose, to work in partnership with a real tribal community," co-founder Ben Keene 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 $1.9 million.

"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 ecological living."

Tribe members will design the infrastructure of the island, from solar power systems to non-polluting 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. has a three-year lease on the island, after which it will revert to the local community.

So voted or not, you're going off the island.

Not-so-bad ideas

  • Bars on New York's Long Island are being offered an innovative way to get the message out about the dangers of drunk driving with the help of a local inventor's brainchild — the Wizmark, the world's first "interactive urinal communicator."
  • A U.K. water utility thinks circus clowns are all wet for performing their splashy hijinks, a number of British newspapers reported last week.

Entertainers from Zippo's Circus performing in Wallington, southeast England, were told they would have to pay heavy fines if they continued to throw buckets of water at each other because drought conditions in the area.And with a watering-hose ban also in place, the clowns will not be able to squirt each other with plastic flowers in their button holes either, the Sutton and East Surrey Water utility said."The water board has had a complete sense of humor failure," said Zippo the Clown Martin Burton."No one else is allowed to fill buckets from a hose in their back garden and throw them over each other, so why should the clowns?" water company spokesman Stuart Hislop was quoted as saying. "It's a total waste of water."Watch out: Auto-safety bureaucrats are probably eyeing that many-clowns-in-a-tiny-car bit.