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Tiny House Village Design

The design charrette for a tiny house village was a great exercise! I found that I had so many similarities to what others had in their designs. A main feature was central community gathering space where residents can eat, play, have a concert, sit around a fire, and other wonderful ideas.  There were so many new people, as well.  This movement is growing, and we can create this.

This was part of the Tiny House Design Expo organized by LATCH Collective, an amazing group of tiny house enthusiasts.  Thanks to LATCH advocacy, the City of Los Angeles is taking our ideas into account as they design new planning laws for backyard homes.  This village idea could also be presented to planners as an example of where we want to live.

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Should we think about “de-colonizing” our movement?

I recently attended a tele-seminar hosted by Transition US, an organization dedicated to living locally, cooperatively, and with a fossil fuel-free future.  It was called “Decolonizing Resiliency Movements.”  The speaker, Susan Juniper Park, is an Oakland-based activist and community organizer engaged at the crossroads of food, ecological and economic justice efforts.
Susan challenged us to think about the following in our projects: whose ancestral land are we on?  What are these people’s struggles?  Are we building relationships with them?
The information participants learned included many examples of people taking knowledge from indigenous or communities of color and using it without its cultural context or for financial gain.  For example, problems with Permaculture can include:
“…losing the context – whose “technology” is it?  When the knowledge is branded and commodified, who profits?  Is proper recognition and reciprocity provided?  Are relationships built with the communities?”  – Susan Juniper Park, Transition US tele-seminar, Oct 17, 2017.
The information also included being sensitive to terms like “homesteading,” which was how colonists physically claimed the land in North America.  Now, it’s used to refer to producing food and working your land, but the term has been removed from its history.
These problems also extend to housing, when people with more privilege are purchasing land in places where indigenous communities are also struggling to have rights to their homelands.  This is not a topic that comes up when talking about creating our own housing, it can be difficult to think about, and we may not feel we have privilege.  However, this makes sense to me that our work should always be in step with marginalized communities in LA.  Working together ensures that we learn from one another and build strength together.  If we don’t take into account the history of the place we are in, we will not be able to create change in the world the way we envision.

As a person with privilege, I know I have a responsibility to include and support the work of communities of color and indigenous peoples.   I hope members will join me in that goal and share their own insights and energy.

Vision and Art

Oct 11, 2017 event INHABIT with Molly Larkey, LATCH, & At Home

Artist Molly Larkey, LATCH Collective, and At Home Housing joined together to organize an event for tiny house and community living enthusiasts.  At the event, participants wrote down their vision for a community, and what questions they had about getting there.  We did all this in the midst of the INHABIT exhibit by Molly Larkey, at the Ochi Projects space in mid-city Los Angeles.  The exhibit had engaging, interactive, and inspiring pieces.  The space was the perfect setting for great conversations about what we want to build in our lives. 

Visions that people wrote down included tiny house villages, artist residences, affordable and cooperative housing, space for gardening and sharing meals.  Additionally, participants could see a place where everyone was valued, where they could work toward their goals, and co-create. 

There were many common questions: where can we do this?  How can we finance it? Who is involved?  LATCH Collective, Reworking Hope, and At Home provided information and cited many resources we can continue to develop in future workshops.  Discussion groups talked about the questions raised, in themes of social values and governance, economics, and design. 

Topics the group wanted to pursue further included group decision-making styles and types, a design charrette, and a library of examples and possibilities. 

 

Ochi

 

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Backyard homes policy update

Last year, California passed laws making it much easier for homes to add secondary units on the property: SB 1069AB 2299, and AB 2406.  These units are termed “Accessory Dwelling Units” (ADUs), or nicknamed granny flats, in-law units, backyard cottages.  The laws change requirements for parking, setbacks, fees, and permits, reducing some of the barriers that previously made it difficult to build ADUs.  Generally, the unit will still need its own off-street parking space, unless it’s near transit, car sharing, or meets other criteria.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development has a page with some good info about the state laws, and links to more resources.  Here is an ADU guidebook  for Los Angeles by CityLab.

The city of Los Angeles is developing language for a new ordinance to expand on the state law.   It has not yet been issued to the public, so it is a good time to tell your council person your opinions or ask them to release the draft for public comment.

The Tiny Advocacy Network is interested in making sure tiny homes (generally less than 400 square feet) and movable tiny homes (structures on a trailer or wheels) stay in the language of this ordinance.  You can sign up for their newsletters and check out info on their advocacy page.

 

Angelenos’ Utopia

What is your favorite childhood memory of building a shelter?  Was it a fort, up in a tree, out in nature?  That is where we started with a workshop to talk about housing and intentional community on July 27th.  The participants bypassed the usual small talk to share their memories and parts of themselves.   Urban planner and activist James Rojas led the workshop, organized by At Home, LATCH Collective, and L.A. Eco-Village to invite members to talk about alternative types of housing. James is an urban planner, community activist, and artist.  He developed this method to make planning visual, tactile and meaningful. Through this method, he has engaged thousands of people by facilitating hundreds of workshops and building over fifty interactive models around the world.   (Read more about James and the awesome Place It workshops)

The workshop was titled “Place It: community visioning workshop,” and was held on a newly-purchased property next to LA Eco-village in Koreatown, Los Angeles, in a former auto shop building.  Participants took seats in the tall-ceilinged space, amid the auto lifts and tables strewn with colorful objects.  James invited participants to re-envision their neighborhoods through storytelling, objects, art-making and play.  By using these methods, people could investigate attachments to place and shelter by thinking beyond words by building models to express ideas about home.  

Visions of Utopia

The ideal communities created with the objects in the workshop had trees, nature, bridges, ponds, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, shared gardens, kitchens, outdoor places to play, and workshops.  Places full of paths, elevation changes, children playing, green space.   We could picture the sounds of people in conversation, water splashing, birds in the trees, animals roaming around.  

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I was struck by how beautiful these models and visions of an LA could be.  But also I thought of the contrast to our current build environment, full of cement, cars, and isolation.  How much work we will have to do to create these places. 

Upon visiting many intentional communities in Southern California, they all say “start with a vision.”  I believe we took steps toward creating these visions.  In this way, we will be able to start projects on the right track with a strong sense of purpose.

Members of CRSP at L.A. Eco-Village, the LATCH Collective, and At Home organized this workshop to connect interested members and move the planning process forward with hands-on workshops.  

CRSP is the resource center for small ecological cooperative communities based at L.A. Eco-village, the landmark intentional community in Los Angeles from which many aspiring community-minded people learn important lessons about communication, structure, and all things community.  

LATCH Collective is a member driven organization focused on co-building tiny homes in Los Angeles.

At Home is an organization dedicated to creating housing opportunities for intentional communities, through organizing, training, and outreach.  

Participants were invited based on their interest in cohousing, intentional community, and tiny homes and villages.  Hundreds of people in Los Angeles are interested in a different way of living.  In this workshop, people were able to think about what that would look like.  

This will be part of a series to further develop the visions and plans for kicking off projects in 2017.  

Communities in Southern California

Here is a list of some of the communities we have visited around Southern California.  Check out their pages for ways you can request tours or visits.

List of Southern California communities

There are some great examples from which we can learn.  Keep an eye out for the Sustainability Seminar in the spring at Regen co-op, the many resources and Saturday tours at L.A. Ecovillage, and the inspiring videos of Activated Villages, which is a project of a member of Emerald Village.

p.s. I love the web bookmarking tool Diigo!

Why are new forms of housing important?

Recently I was asked, “Why is it important to have these new types of housing as an option in LA?”
Things are changing.  People young and old don’t want to drive as much, and want to work in the community in which they live.  We want to collaborate and do things together, rather than try to be involved in many places and wear ourselves out.   Cities need to allow us to be creative and make the solutions that work for us.  The previous models don’t work for the current problems that we have.  We won’t be able to reduce our use of resources, get engaged in our communities, and have social support if we all need to purchase our own million dollar homes.  These things are all goals of cities, and we can make them happen if we are allowed to drive the planning.

Community planning workshop “Place It”

Please join At Home, LATCH Collective, and L.A. Eco-Village at this planning workshop!  This will be part of a series in which we create our vision, match members based on shared interests, and get going on our projects.
Thursday, July 27, 2017 

PLACE IT: COMMUNITY VISIONING WORKSHOP WITH JAMES ROJAS

James Rojas

Re-envision your neighborhood through storytelling, objects, art-making and play.  Investigate your attachment to place and shelter by thinking beyond words by building models to express your ideas about cohousing, intentional community, and tiny homes and villages.

 

EVENT DETAILS

Date & Time:
Thursday, July 27, 2017 from 7pm to 10pm

Place:
3554 West First Street Los Angeles 90004
(enter on Bimini Place
at Los Angeles Eco-Village
 
Reservations required:
Get your tickets here 
Or email crsp@igc.org
$5 to $20 sliding scale

About James Rojas
James is an urban planner, community activist, and artist.  He developed this method to make planning visual, tactile and meaningful. Through this method, he has engaged thousands of people by facilitating over 500 workshops and building over fifty interactive models around the world.   More about James and the Place It workshops can be found at:

 

About the organizers

L.A. Eco-Village, the LATCH Collective, and At Home Housing have organized this workshop to connect interested members and move projects forward through hands-on workshops.  This will be part of a series to further develop the visions and plans for kicking off projects in 2017.

Home is where the Art is

Several group members attended the LACMA Exhibition “Home—So Different, So Appealing: Art from the Americas since 1957.”  It was so moving and powerful, and I felt it on a personal level in a way I don’t with many other types of modern or classical art.

We got to talk with urban planner James Rojas and friends about the exhibit and what is home.  A couple of things that struck me from the discussion:
“home is different for everyone, and can even be a state of mind and not a place”
“when you move around, you realize you have a piece of each city with you”

We talked about having an idealized home in mind which does not exist, but always seeking it. And feeling at home outdoors, in a book, on the subway, or in a park.

Here is the description of the exhibit, which is still going on if you’d like to visit:
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Home—So Different, So Appealing: Art from the Americas since 1957, a groundbreaking exhibition on the universal concept of home, and the first group show at a major Los Angeles museum to focus on Latino and Latin American art since the 1950s. Offering an extraordinary look at one of the world’s most basic social concepts, this exhibition explores the differences and affinities within artworks relative to immigration and political repression, dislocation and diaspora, and personal memory and utopian ideals. Home—So Different, So Appealing features approximately 100 artworks by 40 Latino and Latin American artists. This expansive exhibition will include painting, sculpture, installation, performance, photography, film/video, and public sculpture by U.S. artists from the largest historic Latino groups—of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban origin—plus artists from Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela, and Uruguay, among other countries. Included in the exhibition are works by internationally recognized artists Antonio Berni, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Leon Ferrari, Beatriz González, Felix González-Torres, Guillermo Kuitca, Daniel Martinez, Gordon Matta-Clark, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, and Doris Salcedo, as well as emerging and established Los Angeles-based artists Laura Aguilar, Carmen Argote, Christina Fernandez, Ramiro Gomez, Salomón Huerta, and Camilo Ontiveros. Among the many large-scale works in the exhibition, María Elena González’s participatory sculpture Magic Carpet/Home (2003/2017) will be presented outdoors on the LACMA grounds.