Video: workshop on tiny house cohousing communities

View this video from our September workshop, hosted with LATCH Collective!

Participants put questions up on the wall, and then we had a discussion about the information available.  Tiny house communities are not yet a thing, but we are going to change that!  The interest is there, and people are excited.  The barriers and considerations are the zoning (needs to be multi-family or multiple properties) and the time and effort needed to create something that doesn’t yet exist.  The next steps are building our communication and decision-making skills as a community, so that the group is strong and grounded in a shared vision!

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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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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.  

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.

Cooperative Living Salon: Community Land Trusts & Co-Housing

Several members attended this event, as well as other meetings on housing hosted by LA-Más and the Much ADU About Nothing group. 
This salon was aimed at those interested in Community Land Trusts & Cohousing.  These gatherings are hosted by LA-Más, and I’m posting the information sent by Mark Vallianatos and Helen Leung. 
Cooperative Living Salon: Community Land Trusts & Co-Housing
Presentations by Helen Campbell, Beverly Vermont Community Land Trust & Ilaria Mazzoleni + Olivia Samad, InhabitLA
September 28, 2016
We are not done convening discussions on the policy, design, financing and construction of ADUs or secondary units. But our next Much ADU About Nothing gathering onwill focus on another innovative housing type: cooperative living and building. Just as ADUs allow individual homeowners to add units to shape their living environment, cooperative housing empowers a group of residents to plan, develop and own multifamily dwelling. 
Helen Campbell will present on community land trusts. Helen will be speaking about her involvement as a board member with the Beverly Vermont Community Land Trust (BVNLT), home of the LA Eco-Village. Helen will provide an overview of land trusts and describe the history, ownership, financial and legal structure of the BVNLT, as well as its plans for the future and the potential for other land trusts in Los Angeles. Olivia Samad and Ilaria Mazzoleni from inHabitLA will present on co-housing and the ongoing process to establish a co-housing project in LA. Olivia is Senior Attorney with SoCal Edison and has lived in and explored co-housing in the Washington DC and LA regions. Ilaria is an architect and founder of IM Studio Milano/Los Angeles. They will describe co-housing, trace its origins and give examples in and outside the U.S. 
We look forward to seeing you, please let us know if you can make it! 
Cheers, 
Mark Vallianatos and Helen Leung

Building the World We Want: City Repair and Mark Lakeman

After hearing a talk by Mark Lakeman of City Repair, I feel completely inspired and hopeful that we can start a community and take hold of the place we live.  It’s the perfect time to get this project started. This talk helped me see that many of the obstacles are not what they seem, and realize that we do have the capacity to make these ideas happen.  The examples of what is possible broke down my assumptions what is needed to do the things I want to do.

Grab the taproot, stand your ground, and commit to place!

The examples of what has happened in Portland are much more than changing physical spaces, which I had thought.  The projects, such as tea houses and murals, are the result of neighborhoods coming together, not the other way around.  It started with small ideas, and people helping support each other.  It gained momentum and led to community potlucks, and everyone getting to know one another.  This was the key – once you have the awareness of so many different people, you have ways to advocate for projects in ways that one person would not be able to do alone.  If a whole block wants to mulch its leaves or paint an intersection, the city starts to listen and the rules start to change.  It was amazing to see the pictures of neighborhoods transforming how people, plants, water, and structures move, changing a block into a sustainable, friendly, safe place to be.

Resources:
Placemaking Guidebook
Articles about City Repair

Mark started by putting our Western cities into context: when we moved through the Americas to colonize and settle, our city plans lacked city centers, the heart of most cities and towns around the world.  Without such spaces, we live separate lives, and this really rings true in Los Angeles.  I am identified as a consumer, moving through the world through products and services I purchase, and small spaces I rent.  The spaces welcome shoppers, and people who don’t have this purpose or spaces are made to feel unwelcome.  Many of our designs are built on what we don’t want, keeping people out, rather than thinking of better solutions for our shared problems.  We need common spaces to help us feel a sense of connection to our city.

Now is the time to change our cities into what we want.

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