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!

Values in planning

I was very intrigued by these words from urban planner James Rojas:  
“Collective community values should be the foundations of all planning decisions, projects, plans but planners rarely dive deep enough to engage the public’s imagination to establish values. 
Planning today lacks the creation of values: How do we value ourselves, each other, and the landscape? Instead planners ask people what they want or need which is similar to asking a child what they want for Christmas.  
The planner creates the list that might include more parking, less congestion, more bike lanes, a subway, a bigger house, etc. Then they prioritize the list by popularity, or financial constraints rather than by values to make sure we are growing, developing in the right direction. 
Individuals have values that dictate their everyday decisions. For example a person might value raising a child, establishing a career, leading a healthy life, etc. Everyday most people make decisions based on their values, which will help them achieve or sustain theses goals.  
The communities have values, like individuals that should dictate the planning decisions. People need to imagine, collaborate and negotiate to create and establish these collective values. Everyday planning decisions and practices should uphold these values. Time and time again communities need to come together be reminded of them time or update them.”

– James Rojas
What do you think about this?  Should we change our planning approach to focus more on values, and less of a list?   
James has a fabulous method of getting people of all ages into planning, and it’s an exercise we can try out.   
Participants use found objects to create their design

Scene for “what’s your favorite childhood memory?”
More of James’ work is on http://www.placeit.org/ and here is his recent presentation at the New Partners for Smart Growth

LA Ecovillage

I’ve finally visited the LAEcovillage! That’s been on my list for some time, since it’s so close and offers tours to visitors. It also has a long history, and a lot we can learn from them about sustaining relationships with group members over time.

In the tour of the grounds we saw beautiful gardens and plants. I didn’t feel like I was in the middle of LA anymore, it felt very peaceful. It was pretty amazing what transformation can be achieved with a normal size property with 2 apartment buildings. There were also workshops for bikes, tools, and sewing. 

The open house featured workshops, including ones on conflict resolution and consensus decisionmaking, very useful skills for people living together! 
p.s. I totally want some chickens running around.