Los Angeles Eco-Village
After nearly 9 months on the road and in the air, I came full circle, returning to my home country by way of the graffiti-strewn East Hollywood neighborhood that is home to Los Angeles Ecovillage.
Having lived for 14 years in southern California, the epicenter of American hyper-individualism, I was curious to see what 50 adults committed to green living in a gritty urban neighborhood could accomplish.
At first glance, their two renovated tenement buildings were unremarkable: a few more trees out front, a whimsical cob bench in the shape of a dragon, and permeable sidewalks that prevent rainwater runoff.
In the wide courtyard behind the buildings, however, I found something extraordinary: a lush permaculture garden, somewhere between wild and tame, with picturesque sitting nooks and 27 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Compared to the tacky strip-mall jungle outside, this was Eden!
The founder, Lois Arkin, had a social justice vision for L.A. Ecovillage right from the start. Troubled by the 1992 Los Angeles riots, she abandoned a plan to build on an 11-acre lot on the city’s outskirts and, instead, created this ecovillage in the inner city. As a consequence, Los Angeles Eco-Village is the most ethnically diverse community I visited.
In addition, because most of the community members work as full-time environmental and social justice advocates, L.A. Ecovillage has a huge ripple effect.
Official website: http://laecovillage.org/