GOOD

A Village Grows in Los Angeles

L.A.'s Eco-Village aims to demonstrate higher quality living patterns at a lower environmental impact—and is finding new ways to fund the effort.


Glamour, excessive consumption, and a daily traffic snarl maybe the streotypical hallmarks of LA living, but that is hardly the kind of life at the Los Angeles Eco-Village (LAEV).

Unknown to most Angelenos, LAEV has occupied the two early 1900s apartment complexes a block east off Vermont Avenue in Koreatown for almost 15 years. LAEV moved into the scorched neighborhood in the aftermath of the LA riots, working to revive the community. Over the years, its thirty or so residents have eco-retrofitted the decades-old facilities in their units, repainting the walls with low-VOC paints, and refurbishing the floors to more insulating materials. Their once thirsty lawn is now an edible landscape that grows bananas, peaches, cherimoyas, chard, and lettuce, and even conduct permaculture workshops on site (below). Most units also have solar and gray water systems.



"We like experimenting—things like beekeeping, raising chickens—we’re sort of early adopters to see how those work," says long-time resident Joe Linton, an urban activist involved in revitalization of the L.A. River.

LAEV, which aims to demonstrate "higher quality living patterns at a lower environmental impact," sits conveniently within a cobweb of bus routes and is less than a mile away from two metro stations, and its residents are ardent transportation activists. Rather than suffer infamous LA traffic jams, two-thirds have ditched their cars to walk, bike or take public transportation. Instead of a garage, this hamlet has a bike room where extensively used bicycles, trikes, and all sorts of human-powered transport jostle for space.

"There’s a social aspect (to the village) too," says Linton. "If we’re able to count on our neighbors for things, our lifestyles can be less impactful on the environment."

More than metaphorically tending to their own garden, residents see community as a necessary aspect of living sustainably. Every weekend, LAEV hosts potlucks and meetings. The eco-village has also incubated such ventures as The Food Lobby, a neighborhood food co-op that allows members to buy organic, whole food at bulk prices; Bicycle Kitchen, a non-profit that promotes a cycling culture by helping people fix their bikes; and, most recently, CicLAvia, a group that turned a 7.5-mile stretch of LA street into a car-free safe haven for bikers and pedestrians.

LAEV’s social-environmental approach has proven so successful that plans are under way to purchase the four-plex across the street. Unlike the usual funding model, the additional $100,000 needed to close the escrow won’t come from traditional banks, but from the people—without need of a costly mortgage.

Sidestepping bureaucratic rigmarole and saving thousands of dollars in interest payments, Cooperative Resources and Services Project, LAEV’s parent nonprofit, gathers discretionary monies from friends, family, and other nonprofits to build up a no-collateral, simple interest loan called Ecological Revolving Loan Fund (ELF). The same fundraising technique allowed CRSP to purchase the two buildings LAEV currently occupies. Over a million dollars were borrowed and eventually paid back.

While urban eco-villages are uncommon, their role in re-inventing life in cities has become more pressing. Already, more than half the world’s people live in cities; by 2050, the UN estimates that will increase to nearly 70 percent. Ongoing experiments like LAEV’s show us what is possible and, perhaps, give us clues on how to live together better in the future.

Articles
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading
Health

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading