Ecovillages, or communities who
practice social, spiritual, and ecological sustainability, are springing
up across the world. This movement has been encouraged through the
Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) which is divided into geographic
groupings: GEN Europe and Africa, GEN Oceania, and the Ecovillage
Network of the Americas. Members of this worldwide sustainable movement
have the same goal. They wish to “counteract the decline of
supportive social structures and destructive environmental practices”.
Ecovillagers strive to achieve this vision through adapting their
lifestyles away from the detrimental practices found in much of
western society. Ecovillages that make up the Global Network (GEN)
range from the 11,000 interconnected sustainable villages in rural
Sri Lanka to the 48 unit apartment complexes found in urban Los
I have yet to see the workings of a rural village like that in Sri
Lanka, but recently I witnessed the social and environmental vision
of the Network in action at the local Los Angeles ecovillage. In
1996 the residents, under the Cooperative Resources and Services
Project (CRSP), purchased the complexes that are located in a dense,
minority neighborhood. Those who live in the complexes have committed
to living within the parameters of the ecovillage principles, but
any one of the five hundred people who live in the self proclaimed
boundaries of 1st street, 3rd street, Whitehouse Place, and Bimini
are welcome to join in the weekly community meetings, meals, and
Unlike the majority of complexes found in Los Angeles, the sound
ecological practices found at the ecovillage will aid to its indefinite
survival. One very important aspect of the village’s sustainability
is food self reliance. In the once paved courtyard, a vegetable
and fruit garden now thrive using organic growing procedures including
large scale composting. The courtyard is also home to three chickens
that provide eggs for the group. Members of the ecovillage also
grow fruit trees, including guava and apple, on the city streets
which increase the beauty of the neighborhood, while also providing
a healthy snack for the children walking home from the nearby middle
Inside the complex, sustainable guidelines are adhered to as well.
For efficient use of space, every four hundred square foot apartment
requires a two person occupancy; no more, no less. The most local
and non-polluting materials are used during renovation to ensure
social and environmental responsibility. Nearly all appliances are
energy efficient, including the compact fluorescent bulbs which
cast their glow as you walk down the wide hallways. A grey water
system, a plumbing conversion where water from sinks and tubs are
reused to water the garden, is being proposed, as well as a more
expansive solar panel system.
This style of living is becoming increasingly more desirable. Lois
Arkin, resident and founder of the ecovillage, must sift through
many applications to find the right tenants for units which become
available. One major determining factor of admittance is auto ownership.
With the ecovillage located in close proximity to 25 major bus lines
and 2 subway stations, most villagers choose not to own cars which
are expensive and contribute to pollution and congestion in the
city. Car-less residents have the added bonus of a twenty dollar
rent reduction. Besides auto ownership, Lois also stresses to new
residents that the ecovillage is not a utopia. People at the village
must work hard and make sacrifices for the common good.
The common good that ecovillagers envision extends to the neighborhood
beyond the complex walls. The ecovillage has programs, such as murals
and weaving with green waste, rags, and plastic, which engage youths
in the neighborhood and middle school. The ecovillage also has a
“bike kitchen”. In the bike kitchen, people from the
neighborhood can either drop off their bike for repair, or actually
learn how to do the repairs themselves. This encourages self reliance
and alternative, non-polluting modes of transportation. According
to Arkin, the ecovillagers’ involvement in the community helps
“create friendships, dialogue, and intellectual and emotional
growth between people of diverse backgrounds”.
Members of the ecovillage have played a big part in transforming
this neighborhood from one racked with prostitution, graffiti, drugs
and violence into one in which people respect the environment and
each other, regardless of culture, religion, or socio-economic class.
The growing success of the Global Ecovillage Network, as seen in
the L.A. village, shows that many people around the world have begun
to understand that the survival of the human race is dependent upon
joining together. We must change our current behaviors to ones that
will meet the social and ecological needs of those alive today and
of those alive in future generations.
LA Ecovillage Tours are Available:
We ask for a $10 per person donation
and this can be on a self selected
You must have a reservation. I
will confirm your tour date request via
phone or email.
Here's the tour outline:
of the tour group members' interests
||History and context for LA Eco-Village
||Definition of an ecovillage and
our role in the international movement for more sustainable
||Walking tour of the two block
neighborhood noting the actual changes, planned changes and
visions for future changes.
||Tour of buildings and grounds
of the two CRSP owned properties.
||Spontaneous interactions with
neighbors along the way.
need to know if you are planning to begin ecovillage processes
in your own neighborhood or if you are interested in entering
our process for residency in LA Eco-Village.
Questions are invited throughout
the tour, and frequently there are a
number of spontaneous encounters with other Eco-Villagers.
Here are directions to L.A. Eco-Village
from the interseciton of First
Street and Vermont Ave in Los Angeles. This intersection is 1/4
south of the Hollywood Freeway (101) at the Vermont exit or 4 miles
north of the Santa Monica Freeway (10) at the Vermont exit or 3
west of the Harbor Freeway at the Third Street exit. We are also
accessible by bike or public transit. Call MTA for transit info
(213/626-4455) or me at 213/738-1254.
Executive Director CRSP
Resident L.A. Eco-Village
117 Bimini Place, #221
Los Angeles CA 90004
Western U.S. Council Representative,
Ecovillage Network of the Americas
CRSP is a nonprofit organization
committed to small ecological
cooperative communities founded in 1980. CRSP is the sponsoring
organization for L.A. Eco-Village, founded in 1993 as a demonstration
the processes for creating a more sustainable neighborhood.
Alexandra Miano is a student
at Santa Monica College. She has not decided on a major, but is
leaning towards Art and/or Environmental Studies.