Monday, January 1, 2018

L.A. Eco Village Tour

As it comes time to think about where I want to live after college, one option that was introduced to me was the concept of an intentional community.  This sounded very appealing since it would involve living among people who share similar ideals to myself.  Additionally, it would solve the problem of finding a place to house my metalworking equipment, and also give the opportunity to share my skills.
I was invited to tour the Eco Village in Los Angeles as part of the Food Justice Club at my school.  This particular community occupies a block in west L.A. with several buildings and plans to expand.
I arrived with expectations of seeing something like the hippie communes in the '60s.  This was nothing like that, but rather a well established organization with a powerful presence in the city.  While my descriptions fail to catch all the details, it's basically a collection of apartments bought out and organized into a community living arrangement with emphasis on environmental sustainability and cooperation.  Tenants pay rent and can be involved in various committees to manage the different areas in the organization.  They have community dinners and events, and host tours to the public monthly for a small donation.  I figured I'd get my money's worth and make a blog post out of it!
Let's check out the place: Here's the front of the main building. 

The outdoor kitchen and gray water recycling system.
Courtyard of the main building with gardens.  We were told we were standing on a half-foot thick layer of mulch which covered the entirety of the courtyard.  The idea is that over time this decomposes to make very rich soil.  They get the mulch for free from various tree trimmers in the area who would otherwise have to pay to dispose of it.
Yummy kale!
Yummy compost.  Residents can scrap their food waste here.
Heading back we passed by the "solar clothes dryers".
A playground for the kids made of recycled wood.  Now that's my kind of cloud fortress!
Massive avocado tree in between the buildings.
Scrap Attack's future home? We'll see!  In addition to the machine shop, they also have a sewing shop and art studio.  Basically, any work you need to be done can be done on site!
A view in front of the shops; pineapple guava trees and more vegetable plants.

The Pacific Electric electricians' cooperative was founded at L.A. Eco Village.  Their logo looks conspicuously similar to the old Pacific Electric railroad (especially since it has the exact same name!)
I absolutely loved this gate made of old bike parts.
Speaking of bikes, there's the bike repair shop right across the street.
More gardens.
Macadamia nut tree.
The entrance to the native garden.  I immediately recognized that the fence was made from scrap cutout pieces from a CNC plasma, laser, or waterjet cutter.  True scrap alchemy!
A view toward the native garden... wait, banana trees are native to the area?
Figs! I'm pretty sure these originated in Europe, but nonetheless they grow very well here.
That concludes the tour.  I was very impressed to see that something like this could be so successful in an urban environment.  We were told that the eco village concept originated in Japan, and is prevalent throughout Europe, and other continents though not always going by the same name.  DJ Cavem would certainly be proud.  Check out for a database of intentional communities near you!

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