BBC Mundo and what is the L.A Eco-Village anyway

here is short video about the LA Eco-Village recently published by BBC Mundo (embedded video below) .    it’s not that bad. i certainly commend the makers for packing that much into just 2 minutes – a palatable format for the attention deficit humans of this century.  but  as you compress things (specially information) you loose definition  and  that is a problem of every endeavor in description, not only of journalism.

anyway, they only fact checking i’m going to do is related to the numbers.  they say that the eco-village is composed of 500 people and that isn’t quite accurate by any of the definitions (and there are several) of what the L.A Eco-Village is.

when most of us refer to the L.A Eco-Village we are talking about two buildings and between 30 and 40 people that inhabit them and feel involved in this vaguely defined sustainability project.  some factions among us use the  words “L.A Eco-Village” to refer to the neighborhood we inhabit (the L.A Eco-Village Neighborhood if you wish).  but, see, there are problems with the latter.  without denying we affect the neighborhood in many ways (some good, some bad), the people living in the adjacent blocks do not self-designate as members of any eco-village – it would be interesting if they did- but i wouldn’t want to impose that upon them, more than 500 that they are, so i simply do not.   i certainly don’t want the eco-village ambitions (visions?) to be the colonialist ones.  please continue the discussion in the comments. videoafter the jump:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

5 thoughts on “BBC Mundo and what is the L.A Eco-Village anyway

  1. Without defining as precisely as we can where we are we cannot go anywhere else. Without saying as honestly as we can who we are, we cannot become anyone else.

    Until then, we are merely a media campaign competing for media space in the midst of a society of media campaigns.

  2. In response to federico’s and Brad’s comments:

    When LAEV started in its present location back in 1993, we founders designated the two block neighborhod of Bimiini and White House Place as the L.A. Eco-Village neighborhood. And we acted almost exclusively upon that premise for the first three years of our activities. Our ecovillage processes were neighborhood wide. Our vision was that a small intentional community would be a support system for one another as we worked together with our neighbors to demonstrate the processes of becoming sustainable: socially, ecologically and economically. We designated the two blocks for a few reasons: 1. From the intersection of Bimini and White House Place, one had visual access to the whole neighborhood, 2. The approximate number of 500 people was about as big as one would want to go in an intensely urban setting and still be able to know one another face to face and have neighbors feel that they could influence the direction of the neighborhood, and 3. the fact that Bimini and White House Place were only one block long in the whole city gave the neighborhood a unique character.

    Our activities encompassed the two blocks. We worked with the children and their families, interacting on a daily basis in a variety of ways. We founders were learning from them, and they were learning from us. At that time, too, we worked very closely with White House Place Primary Center principal, teachers, kids, parents. The principal of that school joined the CRSP board of directors for several years and remains a supportive colleague to this day.

    At the founding, our two block neighborhood was still pretty scary. Over time, Eco-Villagers created a sense of safety in the neighborhood.

    To my knowledge, we have never been accused of imposing ourselves on the neighborhood. And, generally, many intentional neighbors have been viewed by our other Bimini and White House Place neighbors as a rich resource for a variety of social, economic, and ecological problems that come up for them personally and for the neighborhood.

    In the interest of the ideals of democracy, some progressive, well meaning, usually white, idealistic folks–both LAEV members and others–are uncomfortable with the founders’ ideas of self describing the two block neighborhood as the L.A. Eco-Village neighborhood (although today we distinguish between the LAEV neighborhood and the LAEV intentional community). That has always saddened me, since our early vision was always that the whole two blocks compose the potential manifestation of an ecovillage, surely not simply two adjacent buildings of the 13 in the two block area.

    A village, after all–and most especially an ecovillage–has mixed land uses, many types of connecting activities, is simulating a healthy eco-system, the health of which is predicated upon its diversity. So, imho, two buildings does not an ecovillage make.

    One of the fears of the founders early on was that in growing our intentional community, members would become so enamored with one another–and their works and activism outside the neighborhood–that LAEV might eventually just become a few apartment buildings for social activists, but with little commitment to the two block neighborhood. I fantasize that that fear will prove unfounded.

    Although being a bunch of social activists in a few apt bldgs. is not a bad idea, that is not why LAEV was started. I hope it is not the main reason why any of you joined the community. Although this is not an “either/or” proposition, I believe most Eco-Villagers continue to own the purpose of demonstrating the processes of becoming a healthy and sustainable neighborhood which may include social activism, but not be exclusively about that.

    Re the media, I believe we do know that the LAEV-IC members are about practicing more cooperative and ecological living patterns which is generally what the media talks about. So much as we might argue about all the other things we are about, and much as we may argue about the public media’s distortions and its “brainwashing” of the American public, the media does shape values for many, feeds curiosity, exposes many to new ideas, and, of critical importance to me, expands public awareness about urban sustainability. “Expanding public awareness” about such things is one of CRSP’s public interest purposes, and it is why the question was included on the member questionnaire about “how you feel about being available for tours and media.” It is also why CRSP was committed to starting LAEV in LA. And we have become among the most well known urban ecovillages in the world, and, in that way, have influenced perhaps 100s of 1000s of people toward more sustainable living patterns. Be proud!

    Let the dialog continue.


  3. I think it is fine and perhaps empowering to hold the idea that the ecovillage would eventually be the two-block neighborhood and to work actively in service to that dream. It works as a vision. Certainly, it has the potential to be that. However, to say that the EV is that now is simply untrue. And the reason it matters is that it affects the integrity of the ecovillage project. Truths provide a foundation to build upon and allow integrity and resolve. Untruths and distortions are subtly corrupting and undermine these things.

    It is true that 15 years ago, ecovillagers worked along the block to engage people in dialogue about the ecovillage idea. Some ecovillagers are now doing some fine and commendable work engaging youth at the Bresee Center and we have held various street fairs where the ideals of sustainability are promoted. But other than perhaps at the Bresee Center, there are no people who identify as ecovillagers outside of the two buildings CRSP owns. And one of the managers of the buildings is vehemently negative about the EV. So, to say that the EV comprises the two-block area misses the mark by some degree.

    For some, perhaps the ideal is the same as truth and they can with integrity feel they are stating truth when stating vision and ideal. For me, these are different things and I feel dishonest when I state the ideal as current reality.

    In any event, to give numbers some feel are untrue as current reality as if they are endorsed by the EV community when they are not I believe does a disservice to the community.

  4. Thanks Brad for your thoughtful response. As I said, I distinguish between the L.A. Eco-Village neighborhood, i.e., the two blocks of Bimini and White House Place and the LAEV Intentional Community centered primarily in the two CRSP owned buildings whose members have gone through a membership process. When this distinction is made between the neighborhood and the IC, I think most people are capable of understanding the difference, especially when the distinction is made in a way that includes statements such as “Most people who live on the two blocks may not be aware that they live in a neighborhood referred to as L.A. Eco-Village.” However, as a matter of general information, I believe that increasing numbers of neighbors who are not members of the LAEV-IC are aware that they do live in a neighborhood referred to as L.A. Eco-Village. Again, they would not refer to themselves as Eco-Villagers, since they would likely not be aware that there is a distinction between the LAEV neighborhood and the LAEV-IC. It may be helpful for us to design a survey and have one of our interns conduct it throughout the two block neighborhood to determine the level of information, knowledge and opinions people have about the LAEV neighborhood.

    So, in an effort here to distinguish between the issues and positions you and I seem to be taking, I suggest that some, who share your perspective, will continue to refer to the LAEV as they understand it, while I and others who share my perspective will continue to refer to the LAEV Neighborhood and distinguish between that and the LAEV-IC.

    I almost think of it in the same way that the redevelopment area of Wilshire Center/Koreatown is discussed. Those who identify with “Wilshire Center” call it that; those who identify with “Koreatown” call it that. Others, like myself, call it both. So, in making the distinctions between LAEV Neighborhood and LAEV-IC, for those interested, I feel that they are getting a deeper understanding of what some of us are all about in relation to the neighborhood. I feel no dishonesty or lack of integrity. But I do think it important to correct the misunderstandings when they arise, i.e., to make the distinction between neighborhood and IC.

    A footnote to this might be the awareness that many people who live in our two buildings who are not members of the LAEV-IC, nonetheless, identify with living in the LAEV neighborhood or in LAEV buildings but would not consider themselves members of the LAEV-IC.

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