Los Angeles’ Eco-Village
Last Summer contributor Nicholas Whitaker had the opportunity to visit the Eco-Village in LA, to see what it's like to practice more sustainable ways of living, while having a lesser negative impact on the environment. In the third installment of Lessons from LA, the people who work and live at the LA Eco-Village show how even in an urban setting, there are ways to live closer to the earth and in better harmony with the people and environment around you.
"An ecovillage is a human scale neighborhood where people know their neighbors and care about them. People can live close to where they work and play and have access to other essential services without use of automobiles. Together, neighbors try to minimize waste and pollution of all kinds. Residents and friends work together to create a healthy community socially, physically and economically.
Urban ecovillages work with surrounding neighborhoods and the city at large to bring a whole systems perspective to urban planning and community development activities. The L.A. Eco-Village Demonstration is part of an international network of sustainable neighborhood groups which seek to model healthier ways of living based on environmental sustainability and social and economic justice." (ecovillage.org)
Lois Arkin: I live and
work in the Los Angeles Eco-Village in an organisation called The Cooperative
Resources and Services Project, or CRISP. We’re a non-profit
organisation that was the initial sponsor of the Los Angeles Eco-Village,
and the Eco-Village itself is a two block neighbourhood. About
500 people live in those two blocks, but there’s a smaller group [00:30]
of about 35 people that have moved to the neighbourhood intentionally
to demonstrate the processes of creating living patterns that are much
lower impact while at the same time raising the quality of community
life. What’s really important is that we are part of an international
movement for more sustainable neighbourhoods. And it takes many
names but essentially an eco-village manifests more or less the convergence
of the Environmental Movement [01:00], of the Communities Movement and
the Voluntary Simplicity Movement. And we have worldwide the global
Julio Santizo: You’ll
find the eco-village of here close to downtown or two miles away from
downtown [unintelligible 01:13]. We’re trying to promote the
community and we’re trying to promote the using of the bike.
Most of the people who live here use the bike to go to work. The
community is very, very nice to us and we are very nice to the community.
As you can see, there’s trees [01:30], there have been changes.
Joe Linton: What’s
happening here is we’ve got stuff, what’s called bald outs, where
the sidewalk has been extended, which gives us an area that we can green.
It makes the crossing shorter so pedestrians, instead of having to cross
40 feet, will be crossing 20 feet. So it’s safer and easier
for pedestrians to cross.
Julio Santizo: We work
with the community in order to… in ordinary conversation in the block
in order to build a park down the street, a second in Bimini place [02:00]
we close the street and with the city we build our ecological park.
What the park do, when the rain come, then clean the water before sending
it to the ocean.
Lois Arkin: It’s part
of who we are to be of service to our neighbour. So generally
neighbours know if they have any kinds of problems we’re a resource
centre, so we can pretty much help them with anything they need.
And that way we also generate a lot of good neighbourhood currency so
to speak to, and people are, they are, you know some neighbours think,
oh well [02:30] the Eco-Village, I’m not sure what that is but there
those people down at the other end of the bald that are kind of always
planting trees or out on their bikes and so forth. And so there’s
a real presence in the neighbourhood, and I think there’s a real appreciation
of the work that some of us do.
Julio Santizo: Well the
thing is that anywhere, in any part of the world, the most important
thing is to know your neighbours. You start with your neighbours,
you know, sharing with your neighbours, anything you have, you know,
we have a table [03:00] where people don’t need things, we put on
the table, even clothes and stuff like that, we share and that.
The people who live here is well educated, and they understand to lead
a very simple life is important now.
Lois Arkin: So if you
want to learn more about eco-villages, go on the website, just ecovillage
dot O R G. E C O V I L L A G E dot O R G. In the Americas
we have nine regions and we have a network called the Eco-Village Network
of the Americas. [03:30] We also have within all across
the US, we have an Intentional Communities Network and people can find
communities in their own area by going on the website called I C dot
O R G.