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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 eco-village network.

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.

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  • Joann Bugari

    Nice concept and seems to be working for them---don't know if NY or even if GA will ever grab this concept---Atlanta is so high in pollution and the smog is terrible---I am fortunate enough to live 50 miles North of Atlanta in a more rural area---people here would be unable to exist with automobiles---I don't think people put enough thought into the air or environment---maybe when we are left with nothing but a hazardous wasteland they will understand----but then again---that will be too late
    Keep up the info Clarence---not many people want to make a difference in this world----nice to see someone who does

    --Jo

  • http://csn.livejournal.com Nick

    Commendable to see segments of my otherwise sprawling and noxious hometown with this mentality--but I was a bit dismayed to see the parks and other open spaces shot totally empty, for the most part. I am sorry to say that is very L.A.

  • percy jackson

    This is a question. Why should you start an eco village?

  • percy jackson

    Please respond soon!

  • http://lacreekfreak.wordpress.com JoeLinton

    Percy - There are lots of possible reasons for starting an eco-village. I think it's a good way of living ecologically - by having somewhat like-minded folks around us, it reinforces our own efforts to live better and to have a positive impact on our cities.