Letter to the L.A. Eco Village

I sent this letter to the Eco Village, on two occasions, and months later, have yet to receive even an acknowledgement of receipt.  I sent it via their email address and posted it to a local listserve.  I do doubt that they ignore ALL emails they get.  After all, they provide the email address so inquiries can be made.  So why IGNORE this email?  Why refuse to even dialogue on this issue?  What is it with human rights organizations and activists absolute hostility and indifference to this issue?

According to their web page,  which was updated this month, and still makes no apparent mention of dis-ability inclusion on their web page. They have a new page, entitled Some Neighborhood Issues and Potential Eco-Village Responses, which I hoped might have included some response to the concerns I raised, but no. Dis-ability inclusion doesn’t seem to be part of their housing agenda, their social agenda or their auto-dependency agenda. Their purpose is defined as follows:

THE L.A. ECO-VILLAGE PURPOSE AND CONTEXT

We are a neighborhood in the built-out Wilshire Center/Koreatown area working toward becoming a demonstration of healthy urban community. Our whole-systems approach to community development tries to integrate the social, economic and physical aspects of neighborhood life to be sustainable over the long term. Eco-villagers intend to achieve and demonstrate high-fulfillment, low-impact living patterns, to reduce the burden of government, and to increase neighborhood self-reliance in a variety of areas such as livelihood, food production, energy and water use, affordable housing, transit, recreation, waste reduction and education. We also plan to convert the housing in the neighborhood from rental to permanently affordable cooperative ownership. 

and

Purpose
Eco-Villagers demonstrate the processes for creating a healthy neighborhood ecologically, socially, and economically. We try to reduce our environmental impacts while raising the quality of neighborhood life. We are a public demonstration of sustainable community development sharing our processes, strategies and techniques with others through tours, talks, workshops, conferences, public advocacy and the media.

 (emphasis mine)  (maybe pwds aren’t healthy enough for this vision of the future?)  

For more information about the eco-village: http://www.laecovillage.org/   

According to their web page, their email address is:  crsp@igc.org

Theirs is a nobel project, and it has done much good, apparently, in the community it serves, but whenever a vision of social justice or sustainability excludes any significant sector of society these omission must be part of the dialogue, must be welcomed, must be considered, and must inform a change in praxis.  

______________________________

l.a. eco village:

i just visited your web site and wiki. i live in echo park, have a burgeoning urban farm, am a writer, activist and artist and educator.  am very intrigued by your program.  i do have one concern or inquiry and wonder why, for the most part, it isn’t included in your information.

with the exception that children’s special needs will be taken into consideration in accepting families, there is no mention of inclusion of people with disabilities in your program at all.  you explain your policy around pets, without mention of service animals, have a discount for residents without cars, without mention that pwds (people with disabilities) often can’t rely on bicycles or public transportation, and therefore might have that requisite waived.  there is no mention in your barter system for meeting the social needs for people who may have less conventional means of contributing to a community, or who simply are at a point in their lives when their needs outweigh what they can contribute. 

as a community, what have you done to address these issues?

are these issues of concern to you as a community?

how do we build sustainable communities that are inclusive?

in building a sustainable community, how do we take into account needs that pwd and people with chronic illnesses may have that might not be needs of people who fit the dominant physical paradigm and may require extra ecological and financial resources?  (such as air conditioning, cars, service animals, etc.)

if you have taken these issues into consideration, why are they not reflected in your mission statement or your on line presentation of your community?

if you have not taken these matters into consideration, why not?

in solidarity,

emma rosenthal

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5 responses to “Letter to the L.A. Eco Village

  1. Hi Emma,
    I just came across this blog. Hopefully, you did get my response of Oct 26th, but to ensure that others are informed of my response to your concerns, here is the note I sent you a few weeks ago:

    Dear Emma,
    Thank you for your concerns about LA Eco-Village. I am sorry to be so
    long getting back to you, as I thought others in our community were
    responding to your inquiry and just learned that no one had.
    Your inquiry got lost in the proverbial cyber cracks.

    As an intentional community, people apply for membership who are aligned
    with the values and mission of the community. Our mission is to
    demonstrate higher quality living patterns at a lower environmental
    impact. Our values include:

    – Celebrate & include joy in all our endeavors

    – Take responsibility for each other & the planet through local
    environmental & social action.

    – Learn from nature & live ecologically.

    – Build a dynamic community through diversity & cooperation

    – Inspire compassionate, nurturing, & respectful relationships

    – Create balanced opportunities for individual participation &
    collective stewardship.

    – Engage our neighbors and broader communities in mutual dialog to
    learn, teach and act

    Several people with disabilities are among our residents. Several
    elderly disabled people have been able to remain in the community over
    the years because of the care they received here, which if they had resided
    in ordinary apartment buildings, would more likely have ended up in nursing homes,
    including an elderly resident with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease.
    Apartment units have been retrofitted to accommodate such residents, as needed.

    Generally, we do not do outreach to attract new members, because there
    are always so many interested and already in our process.

    As with
    any individual or family that otherwise qualifies and is accepted for
    membership, special needs would be considered and accommodated. Same would apply
    for people with service animals and/or others from protected classes.

    Our no-car discounts are meant to be symbolic to acknowledge that a
    member is committed to lowering their environmental impact by living
    without owning a private automobile, although there are resident auto
    owners who manifest such commitments as well. Again because we are an
    intentional community, there is a good deal of auto sharing, and when a
    disabled resident has a need for an automobile ride, that is easily
    arranged.

    From my perspective these issues have not been called out in our literature
    because they are not unusual in this city at this time. PWD is a
    protected class. It wouldn’t occur to me to call out the fact
    that we accept gay, lesbian and bisexual people, or African Americans or
    Muslims or other protected classes either, though they are (or have been)
    among our members. As you will note, several of our core values
    indicate our commitment to inclusiveness.

    We recognize that there are communities that specialize in housing
    people with special types of special needs, and that would be an
    important reason to call that specialty out in their literature,
    including their mission statement.

    I hope I have addressed your concerns.

    Sincerely,

    Lois Arkin
    Resident, LA Eco-Village

  2. Bonita Caracciolo

    Sorry Emma! I thought this was going to the Eco Village ppl. I should wait until I am fully awake to do such things. Hope it doesn’t mess you up but know that I am in support of your efforts.

  3. Bonita Caracciolo

    Greetings,
    As a former small-town city planner I understand that inquiries and concerns are never-ending and often overwhelming as each group wishes to be recognized.
    I do not understand why Ms Rosenthal’s letter has not been addressed and find that her comments, concerns and challenges are completely legitimate. In fact, I am very intersted to see how you will address the issues she raises.
    After a devestating hurricane in 1989 (this is South Carolina) we rebuilt w ALL people in mind, particularly the elderly and those w disabilities as ours is a resort community catering to people from all walks of life.
    I am anxious to learn how you will address the issues raised by Ms Rosenthal. Thanks!

  4. Further noting that on the community’s wiki that the Bienvenido committee will “Insure that we don’t discriminate based on sex, age, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability or any other protected class.” http://urbansoil.net/wiki.cgi/Bienvenidos_Committee

  5. I’m wondering why a community which boasts a whole-system integrating ‘social, economic and physical aspects of neighborhood life to be sustainable over the long term’ isn’t specifically inclusive of all folks – disabled people and other groups with special needs like single parents, children, aged people and youth. One of the core values espoused is to ‘Create balanced opportunities for individual participation & collective steward’ – how is this achieved for the forementioned groups? what positive discrimination policies are in place so the community functions with ‘compassionate, nurturing, & respectful relationships’?

    I hope you receive an answer to your letter.

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