The main project for CRSP/dba Los Angeles Ecovillage Institute’s Ecological Revolving Loan Fund the past few years, and anticipated for the next several years, is the redevelopment of the quarter acre Songs property, an old auto shop and café which CRSP acquired in late 2016. We are retrofitting the property for a variety of co-op oriented uses. Below are quarterly updates to our lenders, and others following our activities, starting December 1, 2016 with the most recent report immediately below. Please consider becoming an ELF lender, if you are in a position to do so..
SEPTEMBER 1, 2021 ELF QUARTERLY UPDATE TO LENDERS AND OTHERS INTERESTED
Watching the news lately? If so, you might be having bouts of depression and hopelessness. Me too! So what? You already know the solution to these feelings is to get out and do something positive: take a walk, help a friend, go to a demonstration, sign a petition (or a dozen petitions), VOTE, plant some veggies, water a thirsty tree, eat healthy, talk to a houseless person (they will generally be very grateful for the attention), go to a legislator’s Town Hall and give them positive advice for change, join an environmental organization, join a social justice organization. OMG, so many possibilities for moving beyond our own negative feelings about the state of the planet and things.
Obviously, I spoke a little too soon in my last Quarterly Update re “happy breathing without masks”. Not happening, as you now know, so hope you are all vaccinated and masked when you are out in the world. And if you know someone who is not vaccinated, you are able to gently move them toward the science that will persuade them to get the shot in the interest of others as well as themselves.
So here are some bulleted news briefs and photos from the L.A. Ecovillage Institute and the Community Hub during the past three months:
It’s what we’re doing to keep us sane, hopeful and positive. Please join us when you can.
- LAEV Tours Start Up. Yes, LA Ecovillage tours have started after a hiatus of 18 months. If you know folks that might be interested, please refer them to our tour page here
- Solar Panels Donated. Thanks to brothers Chris and Alex Malotte for donating 50 solar panels to our Community Hub project (aka Songs): Alex for the donation and Chris for storing them in his garage. And double thanks to Chris for helping to load them onto the rental truck that ELF lender Gail Halsted provided along with her help loading and unloading them here at the Hub. And thanks also to dear Rama who showed up to help load as well. Also, to Raquel Valencia and Austin Thomas for helping to unload them, and to Dave Somers who helped align them inside the Hub Hall. So, all we need now is a newly installed roof to put them on, along with an array of other eco-technology.
- And still more solar materials being donated. As of this writing, our dear friend, neighbor, colleague and staff member technician-in-chief Bobby Hawkins of Altadena Energy & Solar has generated additional solar equipment of a 7KW inverter and racking for 30 panels. Many thanks to Bobby, and owner Hans Rosenberger
- Change of Use, Demolition Permit, and roof replacement plan. Well, FINALLY, our change of use, café demolition, and roof replacement plans have been acknowledged by the Planning and Building and Safety Department, and our permit paid for. Hopefully the permit itself will be issued VERY SOON now. Obviously, there is more streamlining that needs updating with those Departments, especially as we move toward electrifying our City. A few of us here in LAEV are planning an advocacy campaign for streamlining approvals. Let us know if you’d like to join us.
- And still more solar materials being donated. As of this writing, our dear friend, neighbor, colleague and staff member technician-in-chief Bobby Hawkins of Altadena Energy & Solar has generated additional solar equipment of a 7KW inverter and racking for 30 panels. Many thanks to Bobby, and owner Hans Rosenberger
Photo: Dave Somers aligning solar panels at The Hub
- Volunteer James Jeon has gone off to Norway to spend time with his partner there. Not sure how long James will be away, but he is missed. The seeds he planted are sprouting
Photo: James’ seedlings outgrowing their pots
Photo: Deija Transplanting Seedlings
SuSanA ad hoc committee on composting toilets. Eight of our dozen members of this committee were delighted to tour the new Santa Monica City Hall East with Project Manager Amber Richane (thanks to Gideon Susman for arranging). Although the facility is not yet open to the public, we are appreciative of Amber’s informative tour, and our treat of being able to use the new composting toilets that use a mere 3 tablespoons of water along with a nontoxic foaming agent that sends contents into the basement’s humongous composting bins. Wow!
Photo: SuSanA Ad Hoc composting toilets committee tours SM City Hall East
Photo: SM City Hall Composting Toilet Bins
Regarding our pilot composting toilet project at The Hub, it is likely that we will demonstrate three types of composting toilets in the coming year.
- Our first Karaoke Bike Ride for our “Save Energy; Save Money: Learn – Act – Share – Change” project in association with our DWP grant and outreach activities for our Rampart Village Neighborhood Council was held on July 18th. The next ride will be on Sunday, October 10th in conjunction with CiclAvia. The Karaoke Bike or “El BiciCrofono” as we affectionately refer to it, is still in the process of development but, together enough for these early rides, thanks to designer/builder Jimmy Lizama. We’ll be having a table or booth at the MacArthur Park CicLAvia Hub (or close by) on 7th Street at Parkview or thereabouts.
So, c’mon out and help staff our table, sing a few songs, help inform people of potential energy and water savings, and enjoy the fun of a non-motorized day in the Heart of LA. See more info on CicLAvia here: www.cicLAvia.org
- Work parties at The Hub. We are generally having monthly work parties at the Hub but hope to start doing them twice a month soon. Many thanks to our volunteers of the past three months, including Dejai Wilson, Gabriel Marcus, Roland Beinert, James Jeon, Zeno, Gabriel Marcus, Jojo Weinberger, Madeleine, and Rohan. These, along with my contributions amounted to about 50 hours of volunteer time for this
· Talent Show in association with the LADWP. Excited to report that our first talent show was held in person at
The Hub on July 24 under the shade of the old oak tree.
Much of the talent was shared by members of our Ecovillage Urban Soil/Tierra Urbana co-op community plus friends of LAEV. Thanks to all those who shared their gifts, including LAEV Institute staff Angela and Raquel who co-hosted, plus Boris V, Jessica R., Alana and Becca L., Yuki, Aurisha, Ellary A, Dave Somers and our wonderful new neighbor on New Hampshire Myong who led the entire audience and participants in line dancing inside the Hall. Our next Talent Show will be live on Saturday October 2 in the afternoon, so save the date, and watch for details.
Photo: Work party mulching palm fronds in the Conversation Circle.
Photo: Group singalong at Talent Show.
Photo: Myong leading line dancing at Talent Show.
- Save Energy, Save Money and Win virtual workshop held on August 28th included a 10-minute quickie overview power point presentation which I gave on brownfields. Let me know if you would like to have a copy of it. Our next free “Save Energy…” workshop will also be virtual on Sunday, September 19th from 1 to 2pm. Please register here: ly/3dJmKRY
You could win $100 and other valuable prizes for saving energy and water. We’ll also have a special presentation on affordable housing.
- Other Community Outreach Activities and opportunity to knock on doors in your neighborhood. Thanks to LAEV Institute outreach coordinator Angela Bai, we also did outreach to inform people of our “Save Energy…” workshops at the recent Koreatown Block Party as well as knocking on dozens of doors in our neighborhood, and making dozens of phone calls to encourage people to attend our free monthly workshops and other fun activities. If you have some time to do door knocking outreach in your central city neighborhood, make a date with Angela to make it happen. We’re especially focusing on East Hollywood, Koreatown, Rampart Village, Silver Lake, Echo Park,Westlake, Atwater Village, Elysian Valley. We can make a difference by talking to neighbors about how to lower our ecological footprint while raising the quality of community life. Let me know if you’d like to be in touch with Angela.
Photo: Angela briefs Bresee staff Anna Grande about our free monthly Energy Saving workshops.
- Covid-19 relief grant of $5,000. Thanks to LAEV Institute staff Raquel Valencia, we were the lucky recipient of this State of California
- Brownfield remediation to get started in September. We’ll be pulling up some asphalt in the rear yard of The Hub and invite any volunteers to help with this. After asphalt comes up, we’ll take some samples of the presumably toxic earth, then immediately fill the plots with, new nontoxic earth, mulch and compost to ensure the toxic earth is secure. Then seed planting, watering, eventual harvesting and testing to see how effective which plants were at breaking down which toxics. UC Riverside scientist Danielle Stevenson will be oversighting these activities. And, hopefully, someday, in the not so distant future, we will have the public policy and regulations to permit and encourage neighborhood groups to clean up the thousands of toxic brownfields in our city, safely and economically, especially as we transition away from fossil fuels and their devastating
- Consulting on ecovillages, cohousing, intentional communities, and homeless issues. I continue my 35 plus year history of doing informal consulting with colleagues and friends on these issues. Soon I will begin charging for these consultations on a sliding scale, as more and more individuals and groups seek our advice. Some of the folks I’ve been speaking with about their exciting projects include Ray Cirino and his Jack Rabbit project to green the desert, Arlene Hopkins and her Westside colleagues who are starting a new community land trust, Paul Jenkins and his vision tor a radically innovative project for housing the
That’s our update for now. As always, please call or write with your questions or comments anytime or make an appointment to drop by and visit your money at work for reinventing how we live in the city. We have an outdoor conversation circle for your safe visit, assuming you are vaccinated.
Stay well, stay safe, stay masked and distanced when necessary, get vaccinated if you haven’t already, or get your booster when its time, stay tuned.
Virtual hugs to all, Lois
JUNE 1, 2021 ELF QUARTERLY UPDATE TO LENDERS
At last, happy breathing without masks every time you step out of your home, though still often masking out of habit and extra precaution. Hopefully, you have all been vaccinated. And have had success convincing any of your “wait and see” friends and relatives to get the shot(s).
I am pleased to report that our Urban Soil-Tierra Urbana housing co-op has agreed to open up for public tours starting toward the end of July, though we will be limiting groups to 10, and still require masks for now. See the tour schedule here
LADWP Grant Award. Thanks to Raquel’s initiative, CRSP/LAEVI has received a $50,000 grant from the LADWP to do community outreach in City Council District 13 to help people save energy. CD13 includes East Hollywood, Rampart Village, parts of Silver Lake and Echo Park, Elysian Heights and Atwater Village. Please let folks you know in these areas that by attending our monthly workshops, they can get help with DWP rebates, learning how to better read their bills, and win points toward gifts and prizes as well as a monthly chance to win $100 by simply attending being at the workshops. The workshops (virtual on June 26, but likely in person starting in July or August) will have a different theme each month, so watch our event mailings to learn what’s on the schedule. We’re also planning several talent shows and Karaoke bike rides. Workshops and talent shows will take place at the LA Ecovillage Community Hub (aka “Songs”). So, hope we will see you at some of these events.
ANGELA BAI JOINS OUR DWP TEAM. Happily we have brought Angela Bai on board to work on community outreach for the DWP workshops and other events, so you may be getting a phone call from her in the next few months to invite you our monthly DWP workshops on “Saving Energy, Saving Money, Saving the Planet.” Or you can sign up for the free workshops here Although our May and June workshops are virtual, we anticipate that our late July workshop will be face to face at the Community Hub.
Recent work parties at the Hub have focused on planting and transplanting veggie seedlings, making potting soil, starting to build the grow boxes, rearranging the plant nursery for a second conversation circle. The monthly work parties have been limited to small groups of six to eight. Let us know if you’d be interested in joining one of our monthly work parties as we grow freer to mingle: email@example.com
NEW KARAOKE BIKE BEING BUILT BY RELAMPAGO WHEELERY
Some of you may already be familiar with the Karaoke bike rides in past years hosted by Relampago Wheelery owner Jimmy Lizama. Happily for a lucky bicycle activist group in Tijuana, Jimmy donated that festive machine to them a while back. And now Jimmy will be building a new Karaoke bike that will be used for our outreach rides along with outreach for Rampart Village Neighborhood Council, LA Eco-Village and the charitable rides Relampago Wheelery will continue to host. Whether saving energy, money and planet, meeting neighbors for planning more resilient buildings and blocks, encouraging participation in Rampart Village Neighborhood Council, or raising money for a variety of nonprofit organizations, Karaoke bike rides will become a regular event sponsored by the LA Ecovillage Institute and/or its sister organizations. Reducing our personal and collective ecological footprint is our common goal.
DEMOLITION PERMIT FOR THE CAFÉ AND ROOF REPLACEMENT. We’re getting closer but still awaiting our demolition permit for the café and roof replacement for the Hall (the old auto shop) from the City Planning Department. Nonetheless, our contractor did gut the interior of the café. The wood from that interior is what we are using to build our plant nursery grow boxes, and maybe even a tiny house someday. We’ll also be re-purposing the concrete blocks and bricks from the café on the property.
BROWNFIELD REMEDIATION PLAN. We’re pleased to announce that Danielle Stevenson from the UC Riverside Department of Environmental Toxicology, who heads up the on-site brownfield remediation project, will be providing more in depth information to our USTU co-op community and others associated with us who are interested in learning more on Friday, June 11, 2021 from 4 to 6pm. Let me, Lois, know if you would like a link to this discussion: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE C40, MAYOR GARCETTI AND OUR LOS ANGELES ZERO EMISSION (ZEA) AREA. Mayor Garcetti, a co-founder of the C-40, and its current chair, intends for the City of Los Angeles to develop a zero emission area by the year 2030. Toward that end, a special task force has been formed to explore the area that may be best suited to achieve such a goal. LA’s ZEA will be selected from among LA’s most polluted neighborhoods with populations of primarily lower income persons of color. I, Lois, was honored to be among the dozen representatives of nonprofit organizations on the task force to recommend the area to be selected for LA’s ZEA. You will be hearing more about this in the next few months. Meantime, should the Mayor be leaving for the Ambassadorship to India soon, hopefully, our new acting and eventually elected mayor will carry Mayor Garcetti’s ZEA goal.
L.A. ECO-VILLAGE IN THE MEDIA
LA Eco-Village was the topic in several recent virtual events recently:
– Lois was the keynote speaker for the SWICA (Southwest Intentional Communities Alliance) conference in mid March.
– Jan Spencers “Conversations for a Preferred Future” featured Lois as a panelist with other Ecovillage founders. Panels and talks can be found on YouTube here
– The Global Ecovillage Network hosted an international talk with Lois as part of the GEN Summit package. 11,535 participants from163 countries attended the Summit. The Summit package is available here.
– Raquel Valencia gave an LAEV virtual presentation to the nonprofit group “Ready to Help: Mutual Aid Community Network” of about 45 people in late May.
MEANTIME, WE WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS AND VISITS
As always, please feel free to call or write with your questions or comments anytime, or make an appointment to drop by and visit your money at work for reinventing how we live in the city. We have an outdoor socially distanced conversation circle for your safe visit.
Stay well, stay safe, stay masked and distanced when necessary, get vaccinated if you haven’t already, give safe hugs, stay tuned.
That’s it for now. Virtual hugs to all,
ELF Quarterly update for March 1, 2021
TIME TO REPLACE LEAKY ROOF ON THE HALL
Staffer Raquel Valencia, who has several contacts in the construction industry, was able to generate a donation of several very large (50 x 150 foot) tarps which she and a friend were able to secure on the roof prior to our last heavy rain. We really thought they would prevent the leaks, but alas! They did not, and it’s time to move forward on the roof replacement. So, we are currently requesting bids for the new roof. We’re excited about this, because it is always a day’s work to sweep the water out, among all the other reasons one would not want to have a leaky roof. Replacing the roof will also take into account the various eco-technologies planned, including solar tubes, solar panels, gutters for collecting rainwater. Thanks to CRSP/LAEVI Board President and architect Ian McIlavine who has drawn up architectural plan for the roof improvements.
BROWNFIELD REMEDIATION PLAN
Danielle Stevenson, PhD candidate at UC Riverside’ Department of Environmental Toxicology, has provided us with her latest bio-remediation plan and will be making a presentation to our USTU co-op community in March. Please let me know (Lois 213/738-1254) if you would like a copy of the plan and/or if you’d like an invite to her presentation next month..
As you know, our ultimate aim is to scientifically substantiate this type of remediation–instead of digging and hauling toxic soils away–as viable for many of the thousands of brownfields in Los Angeles. It is our hope and intent that neighborhood groups could be taught how to safely and affordably remediate their soils on site.
OUR AD HOC COMMITTEE ON SUSTAINABLE SANITATION: DO YOU KNOW ANYONE IN THE LOS ANGELES AREA THAT HAS A COMPOSTING TOILET?
A few of our friends and I were pretty disturbed when we caught an article in the LA Times for a tiny house homeless village that would cost $130,000 per unit! Much of that cost was attributed to running conventional utilities to the houses and the village. We knew there were more sustainable answers to conventional hook-ups to gas, electricity, water. Happily we began our research in earnest and plan to begin discussions with City officials soon, specifically on composting toilets for starters. We know there are many examples in the greater LA area of folks who have chosen to stop “flushing.” Do you know any of them? Please share with us. We promise they will not be cited, and they may be able to be part of a scientific research project.
CAFÉ DEMOLITION UPDATE
We are still awaiting our demolition permit from the City Planning department to de-construct the building. There has been a bit too much bureaucracy around this for my liking. And some changes need to be made to the Specific Plan for the area we’re in which, ironically, several of us were very involved in its development over 20 years ago. It was such a progressive plan, the lead planner, Lynn Harper, won an American Planning Association Award for it. To be continued once again.
SONGS URBAN FARM
About 20 friends and neighbors have expressed interest in being part of Songs Urban Farm and Learning Nursery. Unfortunately, Covid has kept us from having regular gardening and work days. Nonetheless, between our lAEVI staffperson Raquel Valencia, and regular volunteer James Jeon, we are managing to keep the plants watered, new veggie seeds planted, the compost composting, the worms happy, new potting soil made, some needed transplanting of seedlings, organizing stuff in the Hall and the Shed
THE SPARKS FLEW WHEN OLD METAL OIL BARRELS WERE CUT FOR FUTURE TREE PLANTERS
Thanks to Nils, our dear LAEV friend and neighbor, and Raquel, we now have what were 8 eighty gallon metal barrels almost ready to transplant some of our citrus trees which have been outgrowing their 15 gallon pots. With metal cutting tools, and protective equipment that made them look ready for a space walk, they cut the upper third of the barrels off. The current citrus trees are bursting with blooms, so we may want to wait till after the harvest for the transplanting.
BIMINI PLAZA: WE ARE RENEWING OUR DISCUSSIONS WITH THE CITY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION FOR THE PLAZA ADJACENT TO THE COMMUNITY HUB
For the third time in the past ten years, we are renewing our discussions with the DOT to close Bimini Place to vehicular traffic for a public plaza. This time, from lst Street to White House Place, approximately 300 linear feet. Our prior requests were for the plaza to be on Bimini from White House Place to the alleyway, about 150 linear feet. We believe the City will be more open to our plan today than in the past. The Bimini Plaza will feature exercise equipment, benches, tables, a celebratory style farmers market, family films on summer nights and more. Stay tuned.
CLEARING OUT THE HALL OFFICE OF ARCHIVAL AND STORED MATERIALS FOR OTHERS
Yep! We’ve trying to clear it all out with the possibility that our LAEVI office relocate from Lois’s apartment to the office in the Hall in the not too distant future.
LADWP GRANT PROPOSAL AND WE CONTINUE TO WORK ON OTHERS We recently applied for a Neighborhood Partnership grant from the LADWP to engage in creative behavioral change activities for energy and water conservation within ours and adjacent neighborhoods. We are continuing to apply for grants for our local outreach, education and training activities for lowering environmental impacts in a context of developing leadership, justice and a higher quality of life in our area.” Please send along any promising leads to Raquel Valencia email@example.com
WE’RE RE-THINKING OUR CURRENT PLAN FOR AN ECO-CO-OP HOSTEL. WE WELCOME YOUR INPUT.
Those of you who have known us for any length of time know that our plans have changed numerous times over these many decades. Often ideas for change come from our constituents and volunteers, a sudden light bulb flashes in someone’s head, the old plan has been around so long it’s become outdated, and new ideas are called for. Sometimes, it’s just about “why didn’t we think about that before?” We are so fortunate in being a small organization with minimal layers of bureaucracy, so it is not very hard to change plans. So we are re-thinking our idea of having a tiny house eco co-op hostel on this property, and invite your input.
JERRY VOORHIS MATERIALS AND THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HOUSING COOPERATIVES
Some of you old timers or history buffs may remember five term Southern California Congressman Jerry Voorhis, one of the world’s great co-op idealists who manifested many of his values in a variety of ways. He is most well known for having been defeated by Richard Nixon in Nixon’ first election to public office. Nixon ran a brutal hate, name calling, and red baiting campaign against him. Sound familiar? Jerry was too kind to sling it back at Nixon. But did write several books in later life about his struggle with Nixon.
Jerry was my (Lois’s) most important early co-op mentor beginning shortly after I founded CRSP in 1980. When he was clearing out his office in Claremont in the early 1980s, I had the pleasure of providing some help by taking the many plaques he had and several boxes of books on co-ops for our budding co-op library. Jerry was grateful that they would go to a co-op resource center. Jerry died shortly thereafter.
As I am now trying to clean out my office, almost four decades later, I contacted the National Association of Housing Cooperatives (NAHC), which Jerry was very involved with following his political career, to see if they might like to have the plaques and books. They enthusiastically agreed to take them. So thanks to Raquel, the materials were packed and shipped in mid February. Learn about NAHC here: https://coophousing.org/
There are many articles about Jerry Voorhis on-line, and I encourage those interested to do a search and have an interesting read about a remarkable man. Here is the Wikipedia link to his biography: Jerry Voorhis – Wikipedia
L.A. ECO-VILLAGE IN THE MEDIA
Lois was a participant in two virtual events in January:
– A Founders Forum sponsored by the FIC with panelists from 4 different intentional communities on Feb. 16, 2021. See it here:
Panel — Wisdom from our Elders: Starting & Sustaining Intentional Community – 2/16/21 – YouTube
– Jan Spencer’s “Conversations for a Preferred Future” Series which can be seen on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Mi-6aYj-I&t=30s
I welcome your feedback.
– LAEV continues to be a partner in BuroHappold’s Collective Impact Series. The most recent 2 hour virtual event featured a dozen speed talks on the theme of Racial Justice in celebration of Black History Month. The event will soon be uploaded to YouTube. Search <BuroHappold Collective Impact talks 2/17/2021>
THE MONEY PART: a few facts and figures on ELF for the past three months
Number of current loans: 30
Total amount of current loans: $869,000*
3 New loans from 12/1/20 – 2/28/21 25,000
Current balance in ELF account: 102,535
Projected cost of work to be done
in 2021 150,000
*In the interest of full disclosure, $705,000 of these monies, in seven separate loans, has been made by Lois with inherited monies.
Please introduce us to any of your friends and colleagues whom you think might be interested in making an ELF loan. Contact Lois at 213/738-1254 or firstname.lastname@example.org
MIGHT YOU CONSIDER DONATING SOME OF YOUR ELF INTEREST TO CRSP?
Historically, CRSP/LAEVI has bypassed traditional fund raising drives. During this “year of Covid”, we continue to have big visions, and we’re surviving financially, but we have lots of eco-retrofitting work and new small green business development plans along with programming activities at Songs planned for 2021. Some or all of the interest you receive on your ELF loan this year would be a great boost for ensuring progress on these plans. If this is within your means, and you are willing, make checks out to CRSP and send them to
117 Bimini Pl #221
LA CA 90004.
Because it’s nice to know where your money is and what it is doing, not always possible with conventional investments. And, to boot, your donations are tax deductible to the extend provided by law.
WE WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS AND VISITS
As always, please feel free to call or write with your questions or comments anytime, or make an appointment to drop by and visit your money at work for reinventing how we live in the city. We have an outdoor socially distanced conversation circle for your safe visit.
AND ONE MORE THING: BIG CELEBRATION WILL BE PLANNED FOR SPRING 2022 TO:
– Mark the official opening to the public of the LA Ecovillage Community Hub
– To celebrate my 85th birthday.
– To celebrate the 29th birthday of the Los Angeles Eco-Village,
– To celebrate the authorization for proceeding with the Bimini Plaza being closed to vehicular traffic.
This fundraiser and special events day promises to have something for everyone. Let us know if you would like an invitation.
AND LET US KNOW WHO AMONG YOUR FAVORITE GREEN CELEBRITIES AND ELECTED OFFICIALS, you would like us to invite, and if you have connections to them.
Stay well, stay safe, stay masked, stay distanced, get vaccinated, stay tuned, That’s it for now.
End March 1, 2021 ELF Quarterly Update
ELF quarterly update for December 1, 2020
Tiny house “Nabi” has arrived
On October 26, Nabi, the tiny house, arrived. Here’s a bit of her history from LATCH Collective co-founders Teresa Baker and Shaina Thompson:
Why Nabi? This home was built by a grad student on a budget and served its purpose for a few years before settling to cocoon at the LATCH Collective build site, where tiny house enthusiasts and community members curious to learn new skills worked together on the home’s transformation. The Nabi Tiny House has now found a beautiful garden [in the making] to rest in – the Los Angeles Eco Village Institute! Nabi means Butterfly in Korean— we thought this was a fitting name for Nabi’s LAEVI landing in Koreatown.
You’re invited to stop by and take a look when you’re in the area. Nabi is the first of what may be 8 to 10 tiny houses that will comprise the eco-co-op hostel. Tiny houses are the perfect socially- distanced solution to the conventional hostel. Nabi is currently in the rear yard of Songs, but we anticipate moving her to face First Street where we can more publicly promote the idea of “tiny living” and how to contact LAEVI and the LATCH Collective
NEW STAFF SUPPORT
Lois is excited to have two half-time new assistants, at least temporarily. Grounded in environmental and eco-justice values, Raquel Valencia and James Jeon have been helping out for the past month. Happily for James, he has accepted a full time position with ECOS where he will be their Zero Waste Sustainability Coordinator, starting in mid December. But I expect we’ll continue to be seeing him, as he is also in our USTU co-op membership process, as is Raquel.
CAFÉ DEMOLITION UPDATE
We are still awaiting our demolition permit from the City Planning department to de-construct the building. Nonetheless, we had our contractor remove all the interior items, including many salvageable materials which we will be able to re-purpose in a variety of ways.
Yep, thanks to Gideon, we laid the critters down on a portion of the west bay of the Hall (the former auto shop) and hope to have test results soon indicating how well they did at breaking down hydrocarbon residues on the concrete floor.
SONGS URBAN FARM
– Thanks to James, we’ve got some winter veggies started, broccoli, cabbage, arugula, and more.
– We had a substantial harvest of a few different varieties of small tomatoes, amazingly sweet, which Trudy and Mariah-Rose had transplanted from baby seedlings back in June.
– Our friend George Patton and his friend, who sculptures in wood, cut down 5 dead trees in the rear yard. Other potential uses for some of the wood is huelgo composting which might be part of Danielle’s soil remediation research.
– Mary Vig from Pacific Palisades donated six 80 gallon rain barrels to us which awaits the retrofitting of the roof on the Hall with the drain spouts that will capture the rain.–
– We’ve got worms. Excited to discover them in our 80 gallon compost tumbler.and lots of supplies for making potting soil
DANIELLE STEVENSON WILL START WORKING WITH US IN JANUARY 2021for. Danielle is a PhD candidate in UC Riverside’s Department of Environmental Toxicology, and is among the few scientists researching the effective use of fungi and other plants and microorganisms for remediating both organic and inorganic toxins in soil. Our aim is to be able to provide the local research to substantiate this type of remediation instead of digging and hauling toxic soils away. We have thousands more brownfields in LA,, and it is our hope and intent that neighborhood groups could be taught how to safely remediate their soils.
CLEAN-OUT OF OFFICE
– Raquel and Lois were able to clear out the jam packed office area inside the Hall. Now the west hall is filled with its contents on numerous tables for next steps: sorting for recycling, shredding, donating, archiving, or discarding. as needed.
Thankfully, there have been far fewer rats seen on the property the past month or so.
Lois was happy to provide three speakers for the quarterly Collective Impact series sponsored by BuroHappold Engineering in association with LAEV and several other organizations dedicated to sustainability. On the program were Tierra Sol y Mar Architect and CRSP/LAEVI Board president Ian McIlvaine, City of L.A. Building and Safety Commissioner Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal, and Kreigh Hampel who heads up the City of Burbank Recycling Center were. See their informative and inspiring 3 minute talks, along with several others, here: Collective Impact Series, October 2020 – YouTube
L.A. ECO-VILLAGE IN THE MEDIA
– We’ve had a few folks featured in various media outlets the past six months, including::
Jessica Rubacalba and Devon Fitzgerald with small kids Eli and Charlie in “Business News” last May in an article about life in LAEV. Read it here:
– Jimmy Lizama in a front page feature in the L.A. Times 8/28/20 about bike messengering in Downtown LA during Covid-19. Read it here: https://laecovillage.wordpress.com/
– And me, Lois Arkin is interviewed by ecovillage and intentional community guru Diana Leafe Christian, on “Ecovillage Voice.” Listen to it here:
– Plus two articles on LAEV in the Fall issue #188 of Communities Magazine. One by me, , “The Ups and Downs of Reinventing How We Live in the City”. “Read it here:
And the other article by Audrey Younsook Jang, “Green Localist Pathways to Ecological Civilization: Scaling the Impact of Los Angeles Eco-Village.” See issue #188 of Communities Magazine
THE MONEY PART
We’re happy to report that we were included in the Trust of the late Howard Westley, a dedicated environmentalist and supporter of environmental groups. We were one of about 20 environmental groups that Howard included in his Trust.
A FEW FACTS AND FIGURES ON ELF
Number of current loans: 27
Total amount of current loans: $861,000*
Principal paid out in 2020 21,500
New loans during 2020 thru 12/1 35,000
Current balance in ELF account: 93,756
*In the interest of full disclosure, $705,000 of these monies, in seven separate loans, have been made by Lois with inherited monies.
Watch for more detailed financial info in future updates.
MIGHT YOU CONSIDER DONATING SOME OF YOUR ELF INTEREST TO CRSP?
Historically, CRSP/LAEVI has bypassed traditional fund raising drives. During this “year of Covid”, we continue to have big visions, and we’re surviving financially, but we have lots of eco-retrofitting work and new small green business development plans at Songs planned for 2021. Some or all of the interest you received on your ELF loan this year would be a great boost for ensuring progress on these plans. If this is within your means this month, and you are willing, make checks out to CRSP and send them to
117 Bimini Pl #221
LA CA 90004.
Because it’s nice to know where your money is and what it is doing, not always possible with conventional investments.
– The CRSP/LAEVI search committee made up of Board members Gideon, Priya and Lois is on the last leg of interviewing four candidates for the position which we anticipate will start in March 2021. Stay tuned.
WE WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS AND VISITS
As always, please feel free to call or write with your questions or comments anytime, or make an appointment to drop by and visit your money at work for reinventing how we live in the city.
Stay well, stay safe, stay masked, stay distanced, stay tuned, That’s it for now.
SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 ELF QUARTERLY UPDATE
By Lois Arkin 213-738-1254 or email@example.com
Greetings in this new era we’re in that does not look like a near term end. So hope you are all adjusting as you wend your way through the perceived safety and risks each day, even as time seems to be slowing down and accelerating simultaneously, at least for me.
Regardless of this time we’re in, progress at Songs is moving along in a variety of ways, if ever so slowly, so here’s a summary of the happenings during the past three months:
– Tiny House Donation. Our friends at the LATCH Collective are donating a hand made tiny house to Songs (144 square feet). If you would like to help with the upgrade before or after it arrives, please contact founder/architect Tessa Baker here. This may eventually become a home for a houseless person who could serve as security on the property, and/or it may become the first of a tiny house village to serve as our eco co-op hostel. It will be placed in a publicly visible way that can also promote the idea of tiny houses–now legal, even on wheels, as auxiliary dwelling units, thanks to LATCH’s advocacy–and how to connect with the LATCH Collective.
– Demolition of the café. It hasn’t quite happened yet, but hopefully, we will have a report on this for December 1. Our long time colleague and one of the first green general contractors in Los Angeles, Marco Barrantes of LaLoma Development, will be doing the demolition. My heart hurts to see this 1925 structure destroyed, but it is truly a disaster waiting to happen in the predicted earthquake. We will be re-purposing some of its iconic materials.
– Gideon laid the microorganisms down on the west section of the Hall floor (the former auto shop building) which are designed to clean up hydrocarbon residues. Danielle of UC Riverside may be helping us with some testing to see how effective the microorganisms have been. Assuming we determine they are effective, we plan on doing the 2nd and possibly the third sections of the Hall floor in the next few months.
– Songs Urban Farm. One small but very effective work party among our 16 member Songs Urban Farm group has produced a great harvest of cherry tomatoes. James Joon, Trudy Bonejos, and Maria-Rose joined this work party, helping to clear the Hall floor and transplanting the seedlings.
There has also been a small harvest of eggplants and peppers. The two baby cherimoya trees donated by Mariah-Rose are thriving. And there are several small oranges and lemons on our 8 potted citrus trees. A great donation of a hand-made shelf for plants came in from our USTU friend Jess Brown. She made it out of salvaged wood from the old dumb waiter in our adjacent co-op building.
UC Riverside PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Toxocology, Danielle Stevenson, visited recently andobserved the weeds growing out of the asphalt, a few of which we harvested for future testing to see if they took up any of the toxic metals beneath the asphalt. Danielle also indicated that some of the spaces inside the Hall might be appropriate for growing fungi. Danielle and I continue to seek grants for this on-site soil remediation project. We plan to use this research as the basis for proposed public policy and regulations in the City and County of Los Angeles as an alternative to the dig and haul method for toxic soils which is the current practice. Please let us know if you have leads on grants.
Our Urban Soil-Tierra Urbana co-op is getting a new roof with the help of Songs. Materials delivery for the new roof was made by using Songs rear yard. It was amazing to see this type of equipment in operation so close to home.
– Topic-Specific Conversation Circles. As mentioned in the last update, I have organized a few conversation circles in Songs rear yard for three to five participants each. Let me know if you’d like to participate in a topic- specific, masked, face to face, socially distanced conversation. And if so, what are some of the topics you’d like to talk about?
– Rats. We continue to have a rat issue on the Songs property which spills over onto the USTU Co-op property. We are concerned with how much more serious it could become with the demolition of the café. We have a six point plan for dealing with the rats as humanely as we can, including getting a few “working cats.” Rats run away from the very smell of cats. If any of you close-by friends are interested in helping to steward the cats, please let me know. In addition we will be using electronic traps, potato flakes and water, peppermint spray, mint planters, and yes, as a last resort, some snap traps. If any of you know any other effective, humane methods, please let me know.
19th Annual Municipal Green Building Conference – Virtual. “Los Angeles Eco-Village 2050” was the topic of a five person panel at this virtual conference held on the Whova platform on August 21-22. LAEVI (formerly CRSP) was also provided with a virtual exhibitor booth. Hundreds attended the conference and 70 folks attended our panel. We had some great feedback and made several new friends. The panel was organized by our friends at Perkins & Will Architects, Ashely Stoner and Devika Tandon; and at BuroHappold Engineering, Diane Brown and Kathleen Hendrick. Gideon Susman and I represented LAEVI (formerly CRSP), The presentation which BH and P&W have been working on during the past year, envisions a broadening of the LAEV neighborhood and intensified permaculture oriented regenerative systems for water, energy, urban farming/gardening, transportation, wastes, and people. Let me know if you would like to be invited to a Zoom presentation of the 50 minute panel.
The money part. Lastly, for this update, the balance in our ELF account as of 9/1/20 is $86,069. One $5,000 loan was paid out, and a new $5,000 loan came in. We expect to be paying out
approximately $15,000 for the café demolition in the coming quarter. I am also seeking board approval to retain a local neighbor to provide some janitorial services on the property. Assuming the demolition is completed in the coming quarter and the Hall floor is remediated, we can begin once again to hold some revenue generating public workshops, panels, forums in the Hall, and plan for some of the eco-retrofitting improvements on the roof.
JUNE 1, 2020 ELF QUARTERLY UPDATE
by Lois Arkin 213-738-1254 or firstname.lastname@example.org
First off, I hope you are all well, safe and being smart about being in public.
Since I began writing this update, the protests and demonstrations have escalated and there was a 12 hour curfew throughout Los Angeles County last night. My heart hurts. This triple whammy we’re all going through–the economy, Covid-19 and now demonstrations/riots/fires/looting. Pent up anger of these past many decades with too many police murders and too few convictions, too little change in police departments and too little change in society and the culture of racism still too much alive and hurting. Los Angeles Eco-Village grew out of the ashes of the 1992 Uprisings. Our vision was to “reinvent how we live in the City” so that things like the 1992 events would never happen again. In this vision, we all have a long, long way to go. So thank you all for continuing to be part of the change.
Welcome to a radically changed world in these past three months! Starting in mid March, it just felt like we were living through a horror movie. But now, as we enter into June, it seems that life on the planet, as we have known it, is radically different. There is little doubt in the minds of many of us that Covid-19 has a direct connection to the abuse we humans continue to inflict on the planet’s eco-systems. So, stay informed, be a provider of facts in ways persons you communicate with can hear them, hard as that is to do sometimes.
Here’s what’s happening at Songs in the north end of Los Angeles Eco-Village.
A RE-CAP: OH MY, HOW WE’VE CHANGED OVER THESE PAST 3-1/2 YEARS.
As many of you know, our initial plans for Songs property was to create a four story, mixed use, permanently affordable cohousing development, with a diversity of small green co-op oriented businesses on the ground floor.
We scraped that plan after our environmental site assessments indicated that the level of remediation we would have to do would be to a standard that assumes people would be living on the property for 16 hours per day for 25+ years. But that if we remediated to commercial standards, the remediation would be much less restrictive. Plus, we were learning that about 400 to 500 units of affordable housing were being planned within a half mile of us in the next few years.
So we re-thought the future: save the old 2,200 square foot auto shop (now known as “The Hall”) for incubating small green co-op oriented businesses, and a venue space for educational public talks, workshops and small conferences. We envisioned gardens in the front and rear yards, and retrofitting the existing small café on the west end of the property. And to top it all off, establish an eco co-op hostel in the west end of the rear yard where people from academic institutions, civic organizations, faith based groups, community organizations and others would come in groups to have a programmed immersion experience in urban sustainable living. Such programs might be a few days, a week, or two weeks. And, of course, bringing an old streetcar back onto the historic streetcar tracks on the property for a mini public transportation museum and workshop space. We loved this vision. It seemed so connecting on the local to global level!
But alas, the future of close-quarter living such as hostels is questionable in this new era we’re in. So the hostel vision is on hold for now, possibly forever. And we are moving rapidly forward toward an urban teaching farm and seedling nursery in the rear yard, deconstructing the existing café which is beyond being reasonably retrofitted, and proceeding with research on bio/phyto/myco-remediation of the toxic soil beneath the asphalt.
SONGS URBAN FARM
Already a team of 16 enthusiastic farmers, gardeners, teachers, environmentalists, artists, builders, green entrepreneurs, and assorted activists have come together, thanks to CRSP Board member Gideon Susman and LAEV resident USTU co-op member Dani Knoll. Though we haven’t met everyone regularly in person yet, we have been zooming and talking and planning and holding a few meetings in small masked and socially distanced groups. CRSP Board President and Architect Ian McIlvaine has continued to provide renderings for the Team to consider, and Team Member Juliana Woodruff has been plotting farm layouts and work schedules.
Thanks to evangelical farmer Mud Baron, we, along with LAEV’s Beverly-Vermont Community Land Trust, were the recipient of many veggie seedlings which we have been transplanting into ever larger pots. There are about 200 plants and trees in pots in the rear yard now. And we are ready for more spring seed planting.
Gideon has been supplying us with primo compost from his former BuroHappold colleagues, and the Beverly-Vermont Community Land Trust has been supplying us with wheelbarrows full of nutrient soil no longer needed at the BVCLT corner four-plex in LAEV.
And we now have a socially distanced talking circle surrounded by potted plants and trees, including banana and citrus. So do feel free to arrange a visit to just sit and chat or consider joining one of our planned work parties.
BIO/PHYTO/MYCO REMEDIATION OF TOXICS
There has been a bit of controversy among a few of us as to the potential dangers of working on a cracked asphalted brownfield where there are many plants coming up through the cracks. Since I have been working in the area for over three years now on a pretty regular basis, I have volunteered to be the group guinea pig and have my blood tested for the most toxic elements, e.g., cadmium and lead. There are also a few areas where the earth has been exposed, and those have now been covered.
As some of you will recall, as well, it has always been our intent to have Songs be a research site for bio/phyto/myco remediation, that is, remediating the toxic soil on site with plants, micro-organisms and fungi instead of digging and hauling it away to make it someone else’s problem. The use of plants, micro-organisms, and fungi are all known to have excellent success with remediating organic soil toxins in a relatively short time, and not so good with inorganic toxins, i.e., the heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, known to be on our site. And to be able to help local government develop public policy and regulations regarding on-site soil remediation instead of the currently accepted dig and haul practice.
But now we have been connected through the ever resourceful Ignacio Dayrit, CCLR’s (Center for creative Land Recycling) program Director, to Cal Poly Pomona graduate student Jordan Henry working on this very issue. Jordan connected us to the amazing PhD candidate in the UC Riverside program in Environmental Toxicology, Danielle Stevenson, who will be working with us on researching the effectiveness of fungi in remediating heavy metals in soil. Read about Danielle here.
Welcome to our team Danielle and thanks to Ignacio and Jordan for connections. Starting later in June, Danielle will be helping us with some additional soil tests, and planning and implementing the set-up of her research plots in Songs rear yard.
Thanks to Gideon, CRSP applied for the LA2050 grant cycle but we didn’t quite make it this year. You can see a summary of our proposal for the “Los Angeles Eco-Village Community Hub” here under the “Live” category; scroll about 2/3s of the way down:
The public will have a chance to vote, so do check in for public voting in each of the five categories, starting June 8
I also prepared a grant proposal for Songs Community Hub/Urban Farm and Soils Research Project to our local Rampart Village Neighborhood Council. Unfortunately, funding has been substantially cut for all Neighborhood Councils in the coming year, so I am not super optimistic that we will get this funding.
Please let us know if you have good leads for grants for Songs Urban Farm and Community Hub. Also, let us know if you would like to see copies of the proposals mentioned above.
NEW LOANS ARE WELCOME
If you know folks familiar with our work who might consider becoming an ELF lender, please have them get in touch. We know that everyone is being bombarded with requests for contributions to so many troubled and worthy nonprofit organizations today. Consider for a moment, ELF is not asking for contributions (though, of course, any are always welcome), but you could take the interest you earn from ELF and donate it to some of your other favorite nonprofits.
We currently have 27 ELF loans, totaling $851,500, and total equity of approximately $300,000. We can continue to take baby steps toward our vision of major ecological retrofitting of the old auto shop, but more loans could sure speed up the process.
And that’s our update for now. Stay tuned. I will try to tweet news about Songs as it happens on this website’s home page.
MARCH 1, 2020 ELF QUARTERLY UPDATE
by Lois Arkin 213-738-1254 or email@example.com
Writing to you on this first day of March with another one of those 30 to 40% probability-of- rain days. More often, just a teaser than providing us with much needed water. Nonetheless, the pomegranate leaves along with the fig leaves outside my window are budding with new life, the loquats are already turning ripe, and the lemons are turning yellow on our lemon tree at Songs.
Gideon Susman is now developing the Songs project. I am really excited to have Gideon on-board, moving Songs forward in a variety of ways, but also as our most recent CRSP board member, and now living in L.A. Eco-Village, at least temporarily and, hopefully, longer. Gideon, formerly employed by BuroHappold Engineering, holds a PhD in Environmental Technology. If you would like a more technical update and plans for Songs, please write Gideon at firstname.lastname@example.org
The CRSP Board held a retreat at Songs last week. In spite of much more work to be done in the Hall (the former auto garage), it was the perfect setting. We started with a vegan lunch around the large banquet table donated to us by our dear long term USTU co-op member and friend Julio Santizo. We relocated to the ring of sofas donated to us by IRS (no, not the one that collects your taxes), and then moved on to the rear yard surrounded by potted plants for the final segment of the retreat. Our dear former neighbor and friend Ron Milam did an outstanding job of facilitating our eight person board. So, retreats, indeed, are one more potential use of Songs, especially for the future groups who will be visiting the eco co-op hostel planned for the west rear yard.
Perkins & Will Architecture and BuroHappold Engineering Update
These two internationally prominent architecture and engineering firms have been partnering to provide additional services for the whole two block L.A. Eco-Village neighborhood this year. Watch for more updates. Also, if you would like a digital copy of the Songs Charrette held by P&W last year, let me know email@example.com.
Tops and Bottoms at Songs:
The Hall Roof at Songs. Ian McIlvaine (CRSP Board President and Architect) is working on a finalized re-design of the Songs Hall roof, which will be put out to bid in the next couple of months. The design will be PV-ready (able to accommodate solar panels) and incorporates ceiling fans, high performance natural insulation (possibly cork), structural upgrades, and a new low energy lighting design.
The Hall Floor at Songs. As many of you know who have visited, the Hall floor still gives off a kind of oily odor from all the residue of oil and other auto shop liquids that end up on the concrete floor. So we have decided to clean it with micro-organisms that break down the hydrocarbon residues. Will report on our success in the next update.
And Aquaponics system getting going.
Gideon and our aquaponics advisor Kiran Wali, with valued advice from Roe Sie of the Kings Roost www.kingsroost.com are half way there getting the system set up that was generously donated to us by the Michaeltorenea Garden for an extended period of time. We hope to have photos of summer veggies and yes, fish too, happily growing and swimming in their permacircular paradise by next quarter.
Events at Songs
Kathleen Hetrick, BuroHappold’s sustainability engineer and expert on materials, gave a fascinating talk on “Does Your Building Heal or Hurt” in early January. Let me know if you’d like a copy.
Ralph Santos, transit archivist gave an inspiring talk on the old streetcars that ran in our neighborhood and had the end of the line at Songs. He gifted us with a portfolio of pictures which we intend to have framed for public view in the future streetcar on the tracks at Songs.
Upcoming. Hope you will all attend: Kosha Joubert, Executive Director of the Global Ecovillage Network, will be speaking at Songs on Monday, March 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 with a veggie potluck from 5:30 to 6:30. More details here. Please RSVP to Lois 213/738-1254 or firstname.lastname@example.org And, as of this writing, we are in the process of finalizing a second talk with Kosha in Los Angeles City Hall at noon on Tuesday, March 17. Watch our website for details in the coming week: www.laecovillage.org
Remember, Sunday night veggie potlucks are always open to you. Let Gideon or me know if you plan to attend. And please watch for updates on our 40 year and re-branding Celebration, still in early planning states. Thanks.
And that’s it for this quarter.
DECEMBER 1, 2019 ELF QUARTERLY UPDATE
– by Lois Arkin <email@example.com> or 213-738-1254
And a big welcome to the rain. I’m looking forward to the plethora of greenery it will generate, and the aquafers it will replenish. For seven of the previous ten days before the rain, the AQMD reported orange alerts for our air—unhealthy! So the rain was not only good for the earth and our aquafers, but good for our lungs. Now, if we could only get rid of about half the motor vehicles in SoCal….
The big news in the Los Angeles Eco-Village community this past quarter includes:
– our Urban Soil-Tierra Urbana Co-op has installed five new 500 gallon water cisterns before the rain hit, and, of course, they are all already full and ready for use when the rain slows down..
– our beloved hen, Jolly, passed away on November 22. We don’t know how old she was, but she was the lone survivor of three rescue chickens dropped off on our street about 3 years ago—the other two met their ends with possums in the past few years.
– I, Lois, was honored to be nominated as a KCET Local Hero. See and read about it here
CRSP IS RE-BRANDING IN 2020.
Not only will we be changing our name, but we will be expanding and strengthening our programs, our outreach, and our fundraising activities. We hope you will be inputting on our direction as it gets more fleshed out by our Board. But for starters, here are the top contenders for our name change from CRSP to:
– Center for Urban Ecovillages – Los Angeles (CUE-LA)
– Los Angeles Center for Urban Ecovillages (LACUE)
– Center for Neighborhood Resiliency (CNR)
Our focus will be on retrofitting urban neighborhoods for resiliency. Let us know which name you prefer or what other ideas you have for our new name. Logo ideas are also welcome.
THE PROCESS FOR CAFE DEMOLITION IS PROGRESSING
One bid is in, and we are waiting for one or two more bids expected within the next week or so. The Building and Safety required pre-inspection notice was posted on the building, in case anyone wanted to contest its planned demise. We have decided to simply demolish the whole building, and go for a parking variance on any new café we build on the property. A pending regulation for Downtown Los Angeles is to eliminate parking requirements all together. Since that is so close to a reality, we believe we will have an excellent case for a parking variance at Songs for our demonstration car-free development, as we are among the most transit rich neighborhoods in the City outside of Downtown. Yes, we can walk to 20 bus lines and two subway stops in two to 15 minutes. The future of Los Angeles must be to grow “car-lite” and what better place to demonstrate it than the Los Angeles Eco-Village.
MORE ON THE PERKINS & WILL CHARRETTE.
About a hundred people from the Los Angeles P&W office participated in this charrette last June. As Questa reported in the last quarterly update, there were many amazing ideas. Below is a summary of just one of the several concepts they developed during this half day design exercise.
Creating Developments that Operate within the Water Balance of a Given Place and Climate
– Redefine “wastewater” as a precious nutrient and resource.
-Path/passage from parklets to inner space of the site
– Construct water capturing canopy that contributes to an on-site, above-ground water tank
– Implement pods for the hostel that hold three guests per pod
– Redesign Hall interior for business offices, flex space, atrium, and kiosks
– 2nd story patio included on the café
And here are a few of the take-aways for future planning and design:
Re-Use of materials: Reuse of the bricks and café stools embeds history into a new intervention on the Songs site.
Water: Water capture on display in a “water tower” design element provides a powerful way to visibly see water conservation.
Advocacy: Advocacy and determination can change the direction of a city as has been seen in Santa Monica.
Café: Placing the café on the corner of Bimini Pl and First Street engages the street and the multi-purpose Hall in a new way.
A NOTE OF THANKS TO PERKINS & WILL ARCHITECTS AND BUROHAPPOLD ENGINEERING
We are grateful for these amazing donations of architectural services from Perkins & Will, and engineering services from BuroHappold. We’re excited that Gideon Susman, formerly employed by BuroHappold, our newest CRSP Board member, and engineering team leader for Songs, is going to be living in L.A. Eco-Village for awhile and continuing to provide engineering services to the project. Note also that BuroHappold Songs team member and engineer Kathleen Hetrick will soon be giving a public talk at Songs on “The Red List: Building Materials and Human Health.” Watch for details soon.
Also, a shout-out of thanks to BuroHappold Songs engineering team members Pattie Harberg-Petrich. Lucus Lieberman and Kathleen Hetrick, along with Gideon. And to the P&W team led by Ashley Stoner with Drake Hawthorne, Quintavious Guyton and Carrie Latimer. You guys rock!
Come by and take a look.. It’s still in pieces in Songs rear yard. If you, or someone you know would like to be part of the team that puts this system together and tweaks and operates it, please contact Lois asap (Lois@ic.org or 213-738-1254). We have explanatory videos, instruction books, and technical assistance available; we just need those interested in the challenge to put this perma-circular system together that can demonstrate intensive vegetable and fish growth.
LOGS AND SCRAP WOOD REMOVAL.
Thanks to CRSP board member and ELF lender Lee Conger and his neighbor Gayle Halsted, also an ELF lender, they loaded up Gayle’s pick up truck this week with what seemed like a ton of scrap wood and logs at Songs which were not helping our rat problem, now much more under control. Lee, Gayle and their Silver Lake neighbors will be using the load to create a Hügel (an innovative mound or berm) in their Silver Lake Deep Silver Ridge subdivision of Mixville Heights along the old Red Car “paper street.” Read more about it here.
POTENTIAL FUTURE ACTIVITY AT SONGS
Plant Nursery. We expect to have a small co-op plant nursery up and running within the next few months. Initially, the specialty may be plants known to clean indoor air. The small co-op business could also sell potted veggie plants good for keeping our bodies cleansed of pollutants, and also function as a self-help neighborhood wellness center. If you live close-by, are car-free and interested in participating, let us know: 213/738-1254
PORTAHOMES AND PODS
Bringing Matt “TK” Devine’s “PortaHome“ to Songs rear yard for demonstration purposes may still be a possibility. Inspiring tiny house co-op ecovillages would be our goal with such a display and/or for our Eco-Co-op Hostel at Songs. Ray Cirino’s pods may also be a possibility. Let us know what you think.
YOU’RE INVITED We continue to invite you to join us for Sunday night veggie potluck dinners at 6:30pm. Let Lois know if you plan to attend Lois@ic.org or 213-738-1254).
START THE BUZZ: BIG CELEBRATION COMING IN 2020
CRSP (soon to be re-named as noted in this update) will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2020 while I (Lois) will be celebrating my 85th birthday (really only 83, but in case I or none of us make it :)). So let me know if you’d like to be on the Planning Committee. I intend for this to be a huge fun and fundraising event. Our last big fund raising event was, believe it or not , in 1983, held at the merry-go-round on the Santa Monica pier with Dennis Weaver as our celebrity guest. It was great fun! So send your most fun ideas for THIS CELEBRATION: firstname.lastname@example.org
YES! WE ARE INVITING MORE ELF LOANS We are still providing more loan opportunities: a chance for folks to relocate money they may have sitting around in a close to zero savings account and/or currently invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and more doing who knows what to who knows who and who knows where as it travels the world at lighting speed. Loaning to ELF is a social and political statement indicating your commitment to localizing the economy as well as knowing you can visit your money anytime and see the results it is reaping as we retrofit Songs into the beautiful and practical demonstration car-free community center we envision in the Los Angeles Eco-Village. Please spread the word to others you know that may be interested.
Thanks again everyone for hanging in there with us.
SEPTEMBER 1, 2019, ELF QUARTERLY UPDATE
Greetings ELF lenders, friends and family,
We’re sneaking up on the end of 2019. Where did this year go?! Here at the Village, the gardens are full of tomatoes and zucchinis. The heat may have caused the nasturtium to retreat back into the ground until next year but the pomegranate trees are shedding their flowers in favor of little baby promises of deliciousness and the fig trees are bursting at the seams. The fig beetles have returned and we’re dodging their little green dive bombs as we walk through the courtyard. Songs is plugging away.
Here are some updates:
SPOTVIL, THE HOMELESS ENCAMPMENT
After several warnings, and more offers from homeless services providers, the occupiers were arrested on June 3. As is normal with most homeless arrests, assuming there are no outstanding warrants, they are taken in, booked, held overnight and released. Knowing that, we ordered the fence repairs for the same day, and also immediately began de-constructing their houses, to discourage any attempts to break back in to the space. With the help of several neighbors, the deconstruction went on for the next several weeks. The former occupiers continued to be in the neighborhood and would stop by to pick up some of their things from time to time over the next month.
During the deconstruction period, Lois was continuously amazed at the creativity of the occupiers in building their make-shift houses. Unfortunately, I did not photograph some of their most innovative efforts of how they jig sawed various objects together to ensure protection from the rain and insulation from the cold, as well as privacy.
When the deconstruction was complete, the 1,200 square foot space was organized into a variety of recyclables including bike parts, wood, metal, plastic, tarps, mattresses, doors, wires, electronic and electrical equipment, clothes, and more. Little by little, all of these items were recycled, except the piles of uncategorized trash. Most notably, the bicycle parts found welcome new homes at the Bicycle Kitchen and Barack Obama Global Prep Academy Middle School in South Los Angeles where kids are enthusiastically learning how to build bikes.
The water pipe that the occupiers broke has been repaired by our neighborhood handyperson, Mario, with a faucet in the rear yard of Songs that is not publicly visible. The LADWP investigator did not, however, see things our way after reviewing Lois’ five page detailed report of the broken water pipe, and CRSP is still liable for the $2,500 LADWP bill, which we have been making good faith payments on for many months now. Lois is exploring the possibility of an appeal but is not optimistic.
The Legacy of Spotvil seems to be the rat infestation that it has left in its wake. Unfortunately, the rats have migrated onto the USTU co-op property, now that there is no more food on Songs. Community member Carol has waged an all out war on the rats on the USTU property while Lois has spent countless hours trying to rid Songs property of the vermin. Although we believe that eventually the rat population will be minimized, we may have to get used to seeing an occasional one from time to time. We have been determined to control the population without the use of poisons. We are considering having one or two working feral cats on Songs, as rats seem to go away when they smell cats. We’ll just be concerned about where the rats will go to. Homelessness has come center stage in Los Angeles, and there are lots of innovative ideas floating around. Lois continues to advocate for healthy resilient homeless encampment communities with sanitation, services and training as one of the many options for dealing with the crisis.
UPDATE ON PROPERTY TAXES
Lois and Questa attended a property tax assessment appeal hearing on June 27. We came out of the Hearing with the prospect of minimal relief: come back within six months with the cost of remediation and they may deduct that cost from the property valuation.
Substantially more promising is the avenue of the property tax exemption. We were denied for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 applications due to the investigator’s perception of our lack of activity on the site, but have gone back with hundreds of pages of tour sign up sheets with pictures and descriptions of Bike!Bike!, Placeit! and, most recently will send them info on our event with Abundant Housing LA/NRDC and Climate Resolve on Housing/Transit/Density/the Environment, and other special events on the site. We are waiting to hear back. We will continue to apply, even if we haven’t met all the deadlines for subsequent years. But even for missed deadlines, substantial amounts are refunded if we otherwise qualify.
UPDATE ON SONGS LAYOUT AND DESIGN/PERMITS AND DEMOLITION
Lois and Questa visited Building and Safety again to inquire about how to demo the cafe while still retaining the grandfathered car-free rights. Unfortunately, we are still getting different answers from each person we talk to. Some say all you need to keep is one square foot, some say it’s the entire roof, some say if you take down the walls then you lose the rights. By the same token, if we file a change of use for the Hall, it may also trigger parking requirements. Perhaps our best avenue at this point is to properly apply for a variance to create a demonstration car-free development, while also sending out press releases and holding press conferences on the site.
One idea that came out of the Perkins & Will charrette was to build a small cafe in the triangle shape on the corner of 1st and Bimini Place in front of the Hall. This would also require permits from Building and Safety and trigger parking requirements unless CRSP has a variance for the entire property.
THE PERKINS & WILL CHARRETTE ON JUNE 13, 2019
CRSP could not have been more honored by the intensive work and thoughtful responses that we received from our experience there. In addition to relocating the cafe, other ideas that came out of the charrette were ways to increase solar capacity, water catchment netting and utilization of the streetcar tracks. We especially appreciated how quickly Perkins & Will grasped the interconnectedness of all of the elements that we have been working toward integrating on the property.
Inspired, Questa created a three dimensional model of what might be and how. Working with the topographical survey site map and using cardboard (old cereal boxes), tape, wood and metal, the model can be used to space out certain designs. In addition, it can be used for community display and input. If you’re interested in pictures or even to play with it, please contact Questa at email@example.com. All the meticulously fabricated little pieces are moveable, so it’s a great model to play with.
POTENTIAL FUTURE ACTIVITY AT SONGS
Our Rampart Village Neighborhood Council is working on getting a certified farmers market in our area. Right now, their first choice for location is Songs front yard and adjacent Bimini Place.
A car-free neighbor who lives a few blocks away is in early discussion with Lois on starting a plant nursery at Songs. It was just a walk-by conversation and we’ll see if there is follow-up.
Ray Cirino, a long time dear friend and colleague, inventor, artist and passionate permaculture guy, has indicated an interest in building the streetcar, or two or three, that will fit on our tracks and can be used for the hostel as well as a mini public transportation museum.
Matt “TK” Deine’s “Our Backyard Homes” The “PortaHome“: Matt came by a few weeks ago and was very interested in having his prototype PortaHome on display in Songs rear yard. Check it out here: https://www.ourbackyardhomes.org/. Let us know what you think.
Re Programming a variety of community activities at Songs: We’ll probably hold off till next Spring, though Lois expects that CRSP will be holding a variety of events at Songs over the next few months. Watch our website for activities: www.laecovillage.org
Updates on Colectivo and Artemisia proposals. We expect to be continuing discussions with these groups for future green co-op oriented businesses at Songs.
Our dear friend, neighbor and project manager, Questa, who has been helping in a variety of ways to move the Songs project forward has started graduate school in Urban Planning at Cal Poly Pomona. After 2-½ years working with CRSP, Questa will be leaving to dedicate her full attention to grad school. Questa is sad to leave but excited for the possibilities ahead, particularly integrating her experiences with CRSP into her class work and, wherever possible, using her education to focus on helping to solve some of the big picture issues facing Songs property. A big thank you shout out to her for all her work these past few years.
Those of you receiving quarterly checks should get them by September 4 because of Labor Day Holiday. If you are still on a quarterly interest payment plan and would like to receive annual interest payments instead, please let Lois know.
We continue to invite you to join us for Sunday night veggie potluck dinners at 6:30pm. Let Lois know if you plan to attend (firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-738-1254).
And really, lastly, we are still looking for new loans. If you know of others who may be interested, please encourage them to make contact.
Thanks again everyone for hanging in there with us. Best wishes for a safe Labor Day Weekend.
Questa and Lois (213) 738-1254 or email@example.com
JUNE 1, 2019 ELF QUARTERLY UPDATE
Greetings ELF lenders and friends,
Another quarter has flown by in the blink of an eye and we find ourselves checking in with you, our ELF lenders and friends. Everything is lovely here at the Village. The nasturtium and the poppies may be in their final stages but the sunflowers are reaching their long necks toward the sun and baby tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries and countless other edibles dot the gardens. The figs are just about to mature and we should be seeing the return of the iridescent green fig beetles any day now.
BUROHAPPOLD ENGINEERING REPORT. The biggest news we have to report is the finalization of BuroHappold’s engineering plans on Songs, concluding their two year team effort, led by Gideon Susman! It would be impossible to quantify how grateful we are for the pro-bono work they have done. We’re excited to invite you, our lending community, to come see their final presentation on Sunday, June 9 starting at 3pm here in our Community Room (117 Bimini Place #201). Please RSVP and/or if you would like to receive a pdf of BuroHappold’s final report, we’d be happy to provide that as well. Just contact Lois at firstname.lastname@example.org or Questa at email@example.com. Some of the scintillating highlights were included in the last quarterly update (scroll down to March 7, 2019). Some items that will be discussed are showering facilities for the Eco-Hostel – bucket bath or recirculating shower system? Garden irrigation by gray water or water catchment system? Exactly how much waste do we expect the Eco-Hostel to create? To find out, you’ll have to come to the presentation (or ask for a pdf :)!
DESIGN CHARRETTE.. As one door closes, another opens. Through Patti Harburg-Petrich at BuroHappold, we were introduced to Ashley Stoner, an architect at Perkins + Will https://perkinswill.com. Ashley explained that Perkins + Will is having a company retreat soon and they are looking for a community based project to do a pro bono design charrette. A charrette, as most of you know, is a short, intense period where designers and others come together to create sketches, ideas and models for a particular project. In this case, it is one afternoon in mid June with approximately 100 designers and planners. Based on Patti’s recommendation, our site was under consideration for this incredible opportunity. Ashley and her team came, were hosted on a very short tour of the Los Angeles Eco-Village, looked at Songs property and spoke with us (Lois and Questa) about the property, the vision for the space, the neighborhood and the work that BuroHappold had already done. And guess what?! They loved it! Ashley and her team returned to Perkins + Will, and recommended Songs, and, to our delight, Songs was selected! Next quarterly update will most certainly include the results and most likely some very fun pictures!
AQUAPONICS SYSTEM. We have a very fun new addition to Songs! Micheltorena Elementary school Garden ( https://micheltorena.org/community/garden/) , attended by several
of the kids who live here at the Village, offered to loan us their aquaponics system for 18 months at the outset with the potential of donating it permanently to us after that time.. An aquaponics system combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals, generally fish, in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic circular environment. Essentially, you feed the fish whose poop provides nutrition for the plants. The system was provided to Micheltorena Garden by Roe (via a $5,000 grant to the Garden), who’s small business in Silverlake, King’s Roost ( https://kingsroost.com/), provides freshly milled grains, and provides a variety of food workshops.. Roe (pronounced Rue) is super excited about helping us get the system up and running! His view is that it’s meant to be used and we couldn’t agree more. We intend to hold a series of public aquaponics workshops, and we hope you’ll join us! The system is complete but can be built upon unendingly if it’s successful. Not only that, but we will be getting Roe in touch with our Food Lobby Co-op for the potential of bulk freshly milled flour for our members! Symbiosis everywhere!
SPOTVIL HOMELESS ENCAMPMENT. Lastly for this report, I (Lois) have had on-going lessons from the homeless encampment in the space between the Hall and the cafe. Unfortunately, we have now paid almost $1,000 in fines levied by the Building and Safety Department for a variety of violations. The inspectors responsible have been more than generous in working with Lois, but alas! We have not been able to act quickly enough to avoid the fines. Lois does plan to attend the Building and Safety Commission meeting and plead our case for at least a partial reduction or refund of the fines.
Our most important lesson, as some of you may already be familiar with: no matter how many times a housed person may try to be of service to help unhoused persons, until the unhoused reach out themselves for services available to them, or as the homeless service providers say, “they have to be ready to use the services.” And they have not been “ready,” even when they have indicated to providers on at least two occasions that they were ready, and when the vans arrived to take them to reserved space in a shelter, they refused to go. Finally, Lois had to provide a “Trespass Authorization Form” to the LAPD, and post legally mandated “No Trespassing” signs in addition to the existing “No Trespassing” signs.. And as of this writing, we expect any remaining residents in the space to be arrested in the next few days.
Some of you also may be aware that early on, they broke the main water pipe going from the Hall to the cafe which resulted in a $2,500 LA DWP bill. Of course, we turned off the water when we discovered the situation. We may be able to get a credit on that bill once the pipe is fixed and we present the invoices. However, the houses built by the Spotvil folks have to come down first, as they are built over the pipe.
So, deep breath. We hope to have completed our experience with Spotvil in the coming week, though I expect to remain friends with the very multi-skilled leader of the group, Clifford.
AND, I hope to be an advocate for a homeless conference at which only innovative solutions that have not been tried in Los Angeles will be the main topics, with successful examples from around the world, and homeless people themselves to be among the main presenters!
SUMMER PROGRAMMING AT SONGS. Thanks to Questa’s perseverance, and providing we get the water pipe fixed in the coming month, we are planning a series of summer events at Songs, including public talks, workshops, movies, dances, and more. You’re all on our electronic mailing list, so watch for the schedule.
So that’s the up-note that we complete this report on. Again, be reminded that we host Sunday evening veggie potlucks at 6:30 each week, and you are always welcome. Let us know if you plan to attend, so one of us will be sure to be present to greet and host you.
Over and out for now,
CRSP Quarterly ELF Update March 7, 2019
Greetings valued ELF Lenders,
It is wonderful to connect with all of you again as we head into spring; and what a spring it promises to be after all this miraculous rain that continues to grace our southern California skies, clearing our air and offering much needed nourishment to our drought parched soil. The California poppies are just popping their heads out of the ground and the first nasturtium blooms are dotting the courtyard here in Eco-village. It’s going to be a very beautiful year.
Property Tax Exemption
To business first, as I believe was previously mentioned, CRSP was denied a property tax exemption for years 2016-2018. We missed the deadline for the 2019-2020 filing but still have the option to file late, in which case we can get a percentage back if we receive the exemption. In order to receive a property tax exemption, we must be using the space regularly in adherence with our public interest purposes as noted in our articles of incorporation. For the uninitiated, that sounds like a lot of gobbledygook but it’s actually pretty simple. CRSP’s public interest purpose is “to be a training and education center for development of cooperatives of all kinds.” In order to receive a property tax exemption for this property we must demonstrate that the property is being used for these purposes on a regular basis. Events such as the Tri-board event, the James Rojas Place It! event, the Soul of Soil conference, Bike!Bike and our regular and special tours count toward this purpose. However, since these activities have not been taking place when the exemptions officer came to view the property, we will be disputing the previous years rejection by providing tour rosters as well as event details with pictures. In addition, we are re-upping our efforts to connect with the Los Angeles Mycological Society for potential partnership on a project to myco-remediate the hydrocarbons on the Hall floor. For those interested in coming to the Monday, March 18 meeting of the Los Angeles Mycological Society, details are here lamushrooms.org/index.html.
Weekly Design Calls
On to more fun items. The weekly design calls are still happening and are keeping our team updated on our mutual efforts. Our architect Ian McIlvane with Tierra, Sol y Mar and BuroHappold engineer Gideon Susman with his three member engineering team have identified many eco-technologies for Songs roof and beyond, and we share some of that with you below.
As you know, the Hall has been used in auto related industries for almost 100 years and is therefore off gassing ethylbenzene and chloroform indoors. Therefore, ventilation is of the utmost importance for human health and safety. We could just keep the garage doors open all the time for ventilation, but as you also know if you had a chance to visit the Hall during different seasons it is uncomfortably cold in the winter and unbearably hot in the summer. There is very little insulation and gaps around the giant pull up doors allow all manner of weather in. Obviously, we don’t want to use heaters or air conditioners which wouldn’t solve the ventilation issue anyway. A passive solution that allows for both ventilation as well as insulation was needed. After much discussion and debate, Gideon brought us what seems like an innovative integrated system. The picture below is provided by BuroHappold.
Guide to Integrated System
A) Two vents to allow fresh air into the Hall will be cut into the wall near the floor.
B) On the roof, there will be four steel or aluminum solar chimneys that heat up, causing the air inside to expand and float upward, effectively pulling air out of the Hall.
A+B=ventilation when it’s hot enough for the solar chimneys to draw air upward.
C) A mechanical ventilator will be placed on the roof to pull air through the hall when it is not warm enough for the solar chimneys to heat up and do their work
A+C=ventilation when it’s not hot enough for the solar chimneys to do their work
D) A layering roof insulation system. The layers specified from top to bottom are weatherproof membrane, plywood or OSB board, flat roof insulation, vapor control layer, plywood or OSB board deck, existing joists, and ceiling.
E) Not identified on the picture Sealing around the garage doors or placing the doors permanently up and installing accordion plexiglass in their place or some other solution not yet thought of.
D+E=insulation and technology for warmth on a cool day
F) Ceiling fans for comfort without air conditioning
D+E+F=insulation and technology for coolness on a hot day
G) SolaTubes, are a tube lighting system with a small roof footprint that bounces natural light off of mirrors to provide plentiful natural indoor light during the day. Four of these placed strategically on the roof will nicely light the Hall during the day.
H) Not identified on the picture In conjunction with the drop fans (E), a drop lighting system will be devised for night lighting.
I) A PV array to provide solar power as part of a strategy to make this property NET ZERO!
J) Not identified on the picture Gideon is checking now, but per building and safety code, we may have to provide heating beyond passive heating.
K) Not identified on the picture As an added bonus to clean the air, we could fill shelves with many indoor air cleaning plants.
We are coming closer to the plan for reworking the Hall roof. The BuroHappold Team’s structural engineer Patti Harburg-Petrich recently visited with two engineers to test the ceiling for dry rot and found it to be surprisingly sturdy despite all the leaks. She recommends that CRSP engage a timber inspector.
About the Café built in 1925
The report on the Cafe is rather sad. After the past two years of countless hours of research to find a way to save it, the findings reveal instead that it would cost somewhere between $250,000 and $450,000 to structurally reinforce it to safety standards. That doesn’t count retrofitting the interior. After a lengthy discussion at the recent CRSP Board meeting, the decision was made to take it down. There is still potential to keep some of its most iconic features, including the counter stools and the old bricks. After checking in with Building and Safety last week, Lois learned that one could retain the café use by saving as little as one square of the building. And, because the property is in the Promise Zone, normal parking requirements may be eliminated, that is, if Lois understood correctly. More checking is coming up on this. However, even if the future of that space is not a café, other promising uses are possible: a mini park, a mini food forest, an outdoor gym, a mini gallery, a seedling nursery, a vegan food truck, or something we haven’t even thought of yet.
And the Eco-Hostel
The eco-hostel is still in it’s very early planning stages. For those who are not acquainted with the eco-hostel idea, the plan is to have a place for groups to come and learn about what it means to reinvent how we live in the city, that is, have an immersion experience in urban sustainable living. There will be programming, hands-on activities, classes, workshops and events. But first we have to build a place for them to sleep, cook, learn, relax and congregate. Discussions for the architectural approach for the hostel have included rammed earth construction, adobe, CalEarth super adobe, pod-style sleeping, converted shipping containers, Glen Small’s Green Machine, earth homes, caravans and longtime LAEV friend Ray Cirino‘s pods. CRSP Board President Ian McIlvaine of Tierra Sol y Mar will soon join forces with Architect Lauren Mishkind of Omgivning to create renderings of what the whole project might look like. These we will use to generate more loan activity for the work ahead.
Some possible eco-hostel ideas
Converted Shipping Container
Converted Shipping Container
Pod Style Bunking
Glen Small’s Green Machine 1980’s
CalEarth Super Adobe
Ray Cirino‘s Pods
Inside the Pod
Lois in a cardborigami
As you can see, we have a lot of great choices to mull over.
The question of landscaping is still in the early stages. One idea discussed is urban agriculture. Can you imagine a vertical garden on every south facing wall?
Corn, rice and wheat!
Some Examples from Europe
Asphalt, Concrete, Landscaping, Phyto-remediation
The conversation on whether to break up the existing asphalt and concrete and phyto-remediate or to keep it in place and build over it is still in process. Though it has halted for the time as we really drill down on the redevelopment aspects of the Hall and cafe. For instance, if we wanted to do urban agriculture, we could use growing boxes on wheels over the asphalt and perhaps some vertical gardens on the Hall’s south facing wall. However, if we were wanting a park space, obviously we would want to remediate the soil. And, of course, one of our on-going visions is to phytoremediate in a series of public training sessions that could help residents of some of LA’s more polluted neighborhoods do some measure of self-help on-site bioremediation. I believe the final outcome will be a combination of these options. As plans firm up, the remediation may well be able to be accomplished in phases that can serve our public education purposes.
And about those Requests for Proposals (RFPs)
We did receive some well thought out proposals to our RFP. A “Colectivo” of Eco-Villagers and Eco-Village friends are proposing a bike repair and youth cargo-bike building training facility, along with a café and homeless outreach services. Another friend of LAEV is proposing a cooperative coffee shop. None of the proposals could be accommodated in the space as it is at this time, but we were encouraged by the creativity of the proposals. We foresee that the existing proposals have viable elements that can be included in the future development. We encourage other folks to share their co-op oriented green entrepreneurial concepts with us.
The Spotvil Report on the Homeless Encampment in the In-Between Space at Songs
For the saddest portion of this update, a report on what we call our Spotvil homeless encampment on Songs in-between space. Unfortunately, there were sufficient complaints from unnamed neighbors to the City that the Department of Building and Safety issued CRSP an “Order to Comply and Notice of Fee” and a much too quick deadline for compliance. Although four homeless service providers have spent time talking with and vetting most of the five authorized residents on the property, it is not looking good for the group. Please be in touch ASAP if any of you have ideas for helping these folks into housing or storing their many bike parts. Their dream is to someday have their own bike repair shop. Feel free to be in touch with Lois about this (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We Are Seeking New ELF Loans
Lastly, we are planning a broad based outreach to our larger constituency to generate new ELF loans. So, in case you know of friends, neighbors or relatives who might be interested, please let them know of the opportunity. I (Lois) have loaned money to the ELF too, and feel such a sense of relief knowing where it’s at and what it’s doing, rather than having it traveling around the world electronically to who knows where, doing who knows what to who knows whom. Roughly $100,000 of in-kind services have been donated so far to Songs, including architectural, engineering, administration, meetings, planning, and hands on maintenance, repair and janitorial activities. And since the mid 1980s, approximately $2 million has been loaned to ELF, and we have an excellent record of interest and principal paybacks. Have folks call or write: Lois 213-738-1254 or email@example.com
Veggie Dinners and Tours
Remember, we have veggie potluck dinners every Sunday evening, and generally regular tours a few times a month, so dear lenders, please feel welcome and let other potential lenders know. Have folks call or write: Lois 213-738-1254 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again to all of you for hanging in there with us. As always, please feel free to reach out to either of us anytime.
Questa and Lois
March 1, 2019
Just a brief note for now. We plan to have a more comprehensive update to you in the next few days which you will be able to see here on this page. There is lots going on.
However, what has been occupying my time significantly over the past month is our Spotvil encampment on the Song property. Read about the sad news in my “Notice” below this note. Five people have been living there in the tiny house encampment they have built during the past five months. CRSP has been cited and fined by the City for a number of violations.
Hope you are all keeping warm and enjoying the rain during this special season.
Be in touch with any of your questions or concerns Love and appreciation, Lois
Note that this notice was also provided in Spanish to the five Spotvil residents, all of whom are somewhat bi-lingual.
N O T I C E T O V A C A T E 2/25/2019
Dear Clifford, Alphonso, Salvador, Mario and Tony,
I am writing to you, because you are the only persons who have been authorized to occupy this space for the past few months: the in-between space between 3560 and 3554 West First Street.
As I have been telling you over the past few weeks, the City’s Building and Safety Department has issued the property owner, CRSP, my organization, an “ORDER TO COMPLY AND NOTICE OF FEE I have attached a copy of the notice for your information.
For the past few weeks, I have been telling you all that you will have to vacate the property by the end of February. That is quickly approaching in the next several days.
This is a reminder in writing to make sure you have made arrangements for your relocation. Several representatives from homeless service providers have been visiting you to try to help you get into housing.
We will be erecting a construction fence around the property and you will no longer be able to enter the property after the deadline for compliance, and after the construction fence has been erected.
I have appreciated your efforts to try to comply with the rules. However, I also understand how difficult it can be when you are living on the street, and many other people are seeking your assistance or help or bringing their bikes to be fixed, their trash to be disposed of, or wanting to build their tiny house or erect their tent in that space .
As I have gotten to know you all a little better, it was hard for me to think of making you vacate the property because of the rule violations. I also appreciate your efforts to try to create art in the space.
I will want to stay in touch with you after you leave, so please let me know where you will be staying, once you leave this property.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Bueno suerte a todos,
December 1, 2018
Greetings ELF lenders and friends,
Another three months have flown by, and we find ourselves suddenly in the busiest of busiest – the holiday season! Dun dun dun! We hope during this time, that you are all able to take a moment, breathe, and appreciate the little things while tracking what’s big, and remaining hopeful for our collective, more resilient future.
One thing that is not little is the importance of your loan and gifts to the ELF. CRSP has and will continue to demonstrate a more sustainable cooperative community and facilitate the design of environmentally sensitive spaces where the LAEV community can gather and thrive in the process of “reinventing how we live in the city.” Your ELF loan is vital to that mission and for that, we thank you.
We are still in the process of connecting with some of you who haven’t deposited your past quarterly interest checks, and/or who might want to receive your interest payment annually instead of quarterly, and/or if the principal on your loan is due or coming due, if you want it returned or to let it ride for another year. Please feel encouraged to call or write Lois to discuss any of these items: 213/738-1254 or email@example.com.
There have been a few very impactful activities this past quarter. First for Bike!Bike!, an international annual gathering organized by and for community co-op and collective bicycle projects. The conference is a space for participants to converge in a different city each year over a four day period to have workshops and strengthen their social networks. This year, that city was Los Angeles. Thanks to LAEV intentional community USTU co-op member, founder of the Bicycle Kitchen and Relampago Wheelery, Jimmy Lizama and a whole crew of co-conspirator-volunteers, one of those days, Saturday, September 29, was spent here in LAEV. During the day, workshops crammed full of international bicyclists were held in the community room in our big USTU Co-op building, Jimmy Lizama’s Relampago workspace, and of course at Songs. Our neighbors down the street made incredible vegan tamales. Many Eco-Villagers participated in ways too numerous to name. Former LAEV USTU co-op member Adonia Lugo was the evening’s keynote speaker. Other speakers and bands, karaoke, dancing, socializing, connecting and fun took the event well into the wee hours of the morning with more than 300 people attending the conference closing and celebration. It was a beautiful experience and a way for LAEV folks to demonstrate community and inclusion in a variety of ways.
Some of you may have heard that several Bike!Bike! participants and Eco-Villagers also did an intersection repair that day, that is, we painted a street mural on the intersection of Bimini Place and White House Place. Inspired by Mark Lakeman of City Repair in Portland OR, who first worked with us in 2005, this was our fourth “intersection repair”, the idea being to transform intersections made for cars into public plazas made for people.
The playful mural depicts a variety of animals on bikes, animals that can be found in our neighborhood:squirrels, birds, possums, cats, snakes, chickens, skunks, raccoons, coyotes and more. It’s quite amusing and stunning too. Come take a look when you’re in the neighborhood, if you haven’t already.
Other volunteers upgraded the electrical and lighting in the Hall (formerly the auto shop), installed a digital projector and large movie screen. The event was among the most memorable gatherings in LAEV during our 25 year history. Monies raised went to a fund for next year’s Bike!Bike! conference scheduled for Tijuana.
Most importantly, from the perspective of a lender, Songs functioned beautifully as a venue! Professional security was hired, port o’ potties were brought in, and a Special Event ABC license was obtained for the sale of alcohol. Volunteers in the month leading up to the conference built about 150 bike racks out of scrap wood. These lined the west end of Songs’ rear yard, and they quickly filled up with bikes loaned from folks across the City to the international visitors. A fabric fence delineated the front yard of Songs. Volunteers had also constructed a substantial stage which we hope will soon have wheels installed on it for use outside of the Hall.
Another significant activity on the property has been the SPOTVIL project (Small Pilot Tent Village). For the past few months, small groups of homeless persons have been occupying the in-between space between the old café and the Hall. It’s about 1200 square feet. Among permaculture folks, it is often said that “the problem is the solution.” So taking that guideline literally, after posting a number of signs for “no trespassing”, and “no entry without permission” to no avail, and getting to know the folks who were encamped there, and following the news on the extreme NIMBYism associated with the Mayor’s efforts to install Bridge projects in each of our 15 council districts, starting here in Koreatown followed by equally extreme pushback in Venice and other neighborhoods, I, Lois, had to ask what we could do! Small, beautiful, sanitary, secure ecological encampments, either with tents and/or tiny houses might be a solution. Let me know if you’d like to see the draft proposal that we are circulating. Feel free to make a date to come by and visit. We are still seeking a variety of resources. Let us know if you’re able to help.
We attended an amazing conference on Brownfields sponsored by CCLR (Center for Creative Land Recycling). We are still working toward the use of phyto-technologies for remediating contaminated soils on the property, and we are still studying the resources we gathered at the conference in that subject area. It is likely that the remediation will be done in phases over the next few years. More reporting to do on this as we work our way toward a plan, continuing our connections with the City’s Brownfield Department, the CCLR resources and connections we made at the conference, UCLA Institute for the Environmental, the Permaculture Academy and potential grant monies.
The weekly project update calls among CRSP, our lead architect Ian McIlvaine with Tierra, Sol y Mar and Gideon Susman and Patti Harburg-Petrich, part of the engineering team at BuroHappold, continue to be very helpful and keep us on track. Though we still have no answers on whether we will demo or retrofit the café, we are awaiting further cost estimates to determine whether to proceed with the retrofit or not. Our hearts are into saving the café. Through the help of Patti at BuroHappold, we’ve also been in talks with Swinerton, a prominent national construction firm, and should hear by mid-December what the extent of their involvement might be. Though the possibility of demo’ing the cafe and using that space for other related activities looms on the horizon. The BuroHappold team’s efforts on our behalf, led by Gideon Susman, have also progressed on updating Phasing of the project, eco building materials, eco-technology systems, renewable energy projections and assumptions concerning space and embodied energy
Thanks again to all of you for hanging in there with us. Please feel free to come join us any Sunday evening for our weekly veggie potluck dinners about 7pm. Let us know if you plan to attend.
Warmest Regards, Questa Lois
September 1, 2018
Greetings valued ELF lenders and friends,
It’s that time again for a check-in and potentially a chat. We may be getting back to a few of you during the next quarter to see if more of you would like to be paid annually, rather than quarterly, as well as to determine if it is time to return the principal on your loan or if you might be interested in letting your loan ride for another year. We also want to determine who among you has simply not deposited some of your prior checks, or if they have been lost in the mail. And, of course, if lost, we will replace them.
So, here are a few updates:
The phytoremediation project for the soil at Songs in conjunction with the city of LA’s Brownfields Program and the UCLA PhD Restoration Ecology candidate, Peggy Nguyen, awaits funding. Peggy has indicated she has some leads for funding, which may materialize next year. Meantime, we will also be continuing a dialog among members of the Design Team around the question of whether remediating the soil is our best direction, or should we simply further encapsulate or mulch the existing asphalt and concrete surrounding the buildings and use raised beds and tree containers for the gardens and other greenery. It’s a tough question. Please share any thoughts you might have about this issue.
Peggy did, however, speak at our Soul of Soil Conference, July 14, held at Songs along with CRSP Board President and Architect Ian McIlvaine, BuroHappold Engineering Team Leader Gideon Susman; and LA Eco-Village members Jimmy Lizama, Yuki Kidokoro and Jessica Ruvalcaba. Plus our keynoters Burbank Recycling guru Kreigh Hampel, Ecocity world leader Richard Register, and Economic Anthropologist Christian Arnsperger from the U of Lausanne in Switzerland. Not to worry if you missed it. Our L.A. Eco-Villager award-winning filmmaker, Samantha Bode, got most of their talks on video, and, soon we will have a place for several of them on-line, so stay tuned.
With the help of several more Eco-Villagers, the Soul of Soil Conference was a success, with 60 attending the 12 hour event. Despite the stifling heat, people stayed inside the old auto shop garage (which we now call the Hall) to hear the engaging talks and enthusiastically connect with one another during breaks. The vegan cuisine was provided by Eco-Villager Anaisabel Mercado to rave reviews, and LAEV’s Julio R. Santizo provided technical services. Many other LAEV members and visitors helped out as well. The community truly came together to make this conference successful.
Weekly update calls among our Songs Design Team have been very helpful. The team includes Lois and Questa from CRSP; our architect and CRSP Board President Ian McIlvaine with Tierra Sol y Mar; and Gideon Susman, Patti Harburg-Petrich, Kathleen Hetrick, and Lucus Lieberman from BuroHappold Engineering. Thanks to Gideon’s comprehensive outline, we have been moving along in deciding on our Sustainability Targets in the areas of Materials, Habitat, Waste, Water, Energy and Carbon, and General Areas. And thanks to Ian who has created a set of drawings indicating options for the eco-hostel, business spaces, landscaping and more. We hope to have these Sustainability Targets and Architectural drawings up on our website in the coming month. We will notify you when they are up.
One primary decision in the next week or so is whether to demo the cafe or not. The café, built in 1925, is unreinforced masonry, and is quite a bit worse for wear. It needs some pretty serious structural reinforcement including a new slab. But it may have life in it yet. We expect three bids during the coming week from general contractors specializing in earthquake reinforcement work, and will, hopefully, be able to decide to keep it or de-construct it. If the latter, we’ll save the most iconic pieces of the café for later use.
Evidence of Jim Bledsoe’s fungi experiments remain on the floor of the Hall but, unfortunately, with Jim leaving to pursue other dreams in Oregon, no further efforts have taken place. We may revive the fungi experiments in the coming quarter, along with some other biological methods we’ve been learning about. To add interest in that area, along with a permaculture approach to landscaping and other elements of design, we anticipate having Permaculture Guru Larry Santoyo added to our Advisory Team. Larry will soon begin his 25th Permaculture Design Certificate Course. Some of you may recall that Larry’s very first Los Angeles PDC course was held right here at LAEV a few decades back.
Other aspects of the interior remediation went very well. Sensitive Environment has a great team that kept us looped in at every stage of the process. We could go into greater detail but the long and short of it is that the lead in the interior of the auto shop is encapsulated, and the asbestos in the cafe is mostly gone. The light ballasts, assumed to contain PCBs, are gone. The next phase of building remediation will involve figuring out what to do with the roofs on both buildings.
Though we’ve gotten rid of about 98% of the stuff in and around the Hall, the remaining 2% is still here. Much of that is tempting to save for re-purposing, including various metal, wood and plastic “junk” in the rear yard, along with several nicely organized items in the shed. One idea I (Lois) have floated is to have a junk sculpture art workshop. Let us know if you or someone you know would be up for that.
We continue to work on trying to lower Song’s property taxes. We were, unfortunately, denied a property reassessment by our Hearing Officers. So our next step is to go before the Los Angeles County Assessors’ Appeal Board. Hopefully, we will have a legal expert with us for this next round. Let us know if you have someone in mind.
Finally, after more than 1-1/2 years of informal discussions and more formal meetings with the BuroHappold engineering team, they are getting ready to wrap up their report with this initial planning phase for Songs. They have gone above and beyond for us, and we hope to continue our relationship with them in the future.
As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns that may come up.
Best wishes to all for a safe and pleasant Labor Day weekend.
June 1, 2018
Greetings valued ELF lenders and friends,
It has, as always, been an eventful few months. Work on clearing out the shop continues. The great news is that ALL of the major equipment is gone: the three auto lifts, the tire changer, the air compressor, the iron press table. The shelves are cleared. Our guess is that the task of clearing out the garage is 98% complete. We’ve had two very productive “clearing out” work parties the past two weeks, and another one scheduled for Sunday June 3 from noon to four in case any of you are available and would like to join in the fun. Let us know if you plan on coming.
The contractor selected for the remediation of the interior lead, asbestos and PCB’s is Sensitive Environment. It is a local, woman-owned company with 5-star reviews on Yelp. They were thorough in their initial walk through and the only company who said that they could deal with the PCB’s in the light ballasts. They have been patient and professional in all of our dealings so far, and we are excited to work with them. The target date to begin the remediation is June 11. This will be the first of two rounds of remediation that we plan to do with Sensitive Environment.
We are working closely with BuroHappold Engineering and Tierra Sol y Mar Architecture to identify how we want to change the roof of the auto shop, e.g., skylights, solar paneling, gardens, green roof, etc. When roof treatment and other design related issues are decided, we plan to have the roofing contractor work with Sensitive Environments on this second phase of remediation, which includes asbestos in the existing roofing
Many of you will remember the myco-remediation experiments, led by LAEV associate, Jim Bledsoe to see if oyster mushrooms can lift the petroleum off the garage floor. Two such patches were created on Songs floor in public workshops.
Mushrooms grown on Songs floor by Jim Bledsoe
Preliminary data is inconclusive but the mushrooms aren’t through growing. The sad news is that Jim plans to leave Los Angeles for greener pastures. We are actively looking for a team to take up the mantle of these local experiments! If you know someone or if you ARE someone interested in being on the front lines of mycological research, please let us know! We plan to frame these beautiful specimens and credit their creation to Jim.
CRSP, our architect Ian McIlvaine with Tierra, Sol y Mar and the engineering team led by Gideon Sussman at BuroHappold continue to make headway on the future design of the property. BuroHappold has hosted two design meetings. One more will be held and then a final meeting to officially present their ideas.
We have not moved as quickly as we would have liked, so the phasing matrix developed at the end of last year is a bit behind. I (Questa) and Gideon have set up a regularly scheduled online call to jump start and help move the phasing forward. BuroHappold hopes to wrap their initial volunteer commitment to this project by the end of summer. And may consider moving forward with CRSP on the project after we see how it wraps.
In regards to the property taxes, there’s just a little to say. Though we were rejected for exemption on the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 tax years, Lois is working diligently on the 2018-2019 request for exemption. The re-assessment hearing has been delayed a couple of times now and Lois is looking into finding representation for when the County re-schedules our hearing. The process is a very complicated one and she’s come to the mind that we need an expert. If you know a property tax expert who has worked with nonprofits on reducing property taxes, please send them our way.
Now more exciting news. Recently, Nuna Tersibashian, Brownfields Program Manager for the City of Los Angeles, asked if we would be interested in working with one of their program management staff on our remediation efforts. We later learned that the Brownfields staff person Nuna had in mind was UCLA PhD candidate Peggy Nguyen. In the most truly “small world” experience we’ve had in awhile, Peggy is currently working with Gideon at BuroHappold on a completely different project! We met with Peggy, Nuna, Brownfield staff person Collette and City of L.A. urban planner Claire Bowen on May 3rd. We were excited to learn of Peggy’s optimism for remediating soil contaminants as quickly as a year. She proposes to lift the asphalt/concrete, lay down a layer of compost, and plant a combination of plants known to phytoremediate the soil of both organic and inorganic materials. This will be a publishable study. Peggy plans to prepare the grant proposal that will bring funding to the work to be done. While we can’t count this chicken until it’s hatched, this may be the deus ex machina to show that heavy metals can be phyto-remediated as an alternative to the conventional and expensive “dig and haul” methods currently in use.
One of our goals, in alignment with our public interest purposes, will be to use the resulting science from Peggy’s proposed study, and the potential changes in regulations, to form co-ops of neighborhood groups which can begin to remediate their own contaminated communities without waiting for years of public funding unlikely to materialize.
As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns that may come up. And watch for upcoming summer events at Songs. Hope to see you all soon.
Questa, CRSP Special Projects Coordinator
*Our dear friend and lender, Marshall Burns, came up with this comment which I thought made a nice motto:
ELF: Green investing with an adamantly personal touch!*
What do you think?
March 1, 2018
Greetings valued ELF lenders and friends,
It’s been an eventful few months! Amongst the workshops, CCLR (Center for Creative Land Recycling) webinars, clearing, cleaning, planning, bidding and design, Lois had a death in her family and was in Florida for two weeks.
Work on the property continues. Though we have cleaned out literally buckets of stuff, there is still piles of old brake pads, gaskets, sound equipment, office equipment, books and unrecognizable plastic and metal bits of all sorts. We intend to have it all cleared out for lead and asbestos remediation in the coming month.
There is still some large and valuable auto equipment to get rid of as well. Of three lifts, one is gone at a fair price, considering the purchaser came and broke it all down and hauled it away themselves! The air compressor is gone as well. The tire changer remains. All items are up on E-bay and craigslist, and I am daily interacting with prospective buyers.
Now to some really interesting stuff! We have held two workshops in the garage, led by LAEV associate Jim Bledsoe, to experiment breaking down hydrocarbon residuals on the auto shop floor with oyster mushrooms. We are not aware of any others doing this kind of work here in Los Angeles. Hopefully, our results will be able to influence regulations, and help other neighborhoods with inexpensive remediation strategies.
Our engineering firm BuroHappold continues to be among our heroes, along with Architect Ian McIlvaine. Last month, B-H hosted the first of several design meetings to discuss the many sustainability options. For example, a black glass pane on the exterior south wall of the auto shop to trap cold and hot air for heating and cooling.
BuroHappold structural engineer Patti Harburg-Patrich-(left) and intern Channel check out 1930 café wall for structural integrity
BuroHappold structural engineer, Patti Harburg-Petrich, joined by her intern Chanele, walked the two buildings last week to gather further information for retrofitting. Their work gets us a step closer for interim uses of the buildings!
All of this fits into the ever evolving phasing matrix, which I initially developed, and BuroHappold’s Team Leader Gideon Sussman took to the next professional level with input from several of us. Please let me know if you’d like a copy.
After all this exciting news, here is the frustrating news: The L.A. County Assessor’s office rejected our request for a property tax appeal on the grounds that we are not currently using the property to further our public interest purposes. Once we have more workshops and classes happening, we will try again. Our request for a property tax exemption was also rejected on grounds that we did not have a current Organizational Clearance Certificate from the State. We will be continuing to pursue the necessary process for these tax advantages.
We’d be delighted to hear what your visions are for the property. As always, please feel to contact us with any questions or concerns that may come up. Also, please let us know if you’d prefer to get your interest checks annually instead of quarterly, in which case, we would still send you updates.
Questa Gleason CRSP Special Projects Coordinator
Dear Lenders and Friends,
About working with the US-EPA:
Well, our year-long engagement with the US-EPA came to a close in late October with their three final reports:
- a Phase II Targeted Brownfield Assessment (TBA) 100 page report completed in July which we wrote about in our September update to you
- an Analysis of Brownfield Clean-Up Alternatives (ABCA), a 43 page report completed in October
- an Appendices to the Phase II TBA of 149 pages completed in April
We felt like we had enough info and a number of interested and dedicated folks to create a brownfield grant writing team, including a professional grant writer, a former employee with the EPA, a few with comprehensive science backgrounds, and several of us with a good history of the site, good writing skills, plus lots of good contacts for garnering support for a US-EPA Brownfield Clean Up grant.
So, without a lot of thought or initial homework, our team came together and decided to go for a $150,000 grant for our Project. Our decision was made in mid October. The deadline loomed at a very tight November 16. The 71 page long Grant Guidelines were intimidating. So it took the next few weeks to get a handle on understanding how to respond to the Application, and we were already more than a month behind since the Guidelines had been released in early September.
Some exciting meetings with our grant writing team followed, and we were putting together a lot of resources for the proposal: commitments for letters of support from a dozen organizations, including the California EPA, the City’s Brownfield program, our Council office, local schools, churches and other nonprofit organizations; demographics, pollution issues in our neighborhood, and more! Wow! We were cooking.
We were learning about the contaminants inside the buildings and in the soil and what their potential effects could be on human health. We were beginning to envision being a resource for other disadvantaged polluted neighborhoods, several of which have been reported on in the mainstream media the past few years. Imagining that our experience and experiments with soil contaminants would give us increasing expertise that we could then share with other disadvantaged neighborhoods to do their own contaminated soil remediation. We knew that additional public funds may be drying up in coming years. There have to be viable alternatives! And our growing expertise could be one of them!
The big day of the Grant’s required Public Meeting arrived: November 11th, less than a week before the deadline, but the earliest we could manage to get it together enough to conduct such a meeting. A public notice was sent out about the meeting to a thousand people in ours and nearby zip codes and flyers posted on the property and on our two blocks, face to face invitational discussions with adjacent school principals were made, and meeting flyers in Spanish and English handed out to the parents who walk their kids to school.
The public meeting did draw about 25 people, and our good neighbor, AnaPaul Noguez Mercado with AntenaLA, provided interpretation for Spanish speaking neighbors. But, the three day Veterans holiday pretty much killed attendance for lots of other folks.
Each of our eight grant writing team members made a brief presentation or played an essential role in the public meeting. Together, we publicly chronicled our vision for the project, and what we planned to do about the contaminants before we could substantially manifest that vision. We answered and recorded questions and comments from the participants, as required by the grant guidelines. Our presentations focused on remediating the contaminants inside the buildings (lead, asbestos and PCBs) in a fairly quick and conventional way. We decided that it would be these contaminants that we would seek the US-EPA grant monies for. And we would look for other monies for remediating the soils.
Together, the team felt strongly that the soil remediation should be done using plants, trees, microorganisms, mushrooms and other on site phyto-technologies. The US-EPA’s ABCA did not support this alternative, so we didn’t feel it worthwhile to include these technologies in the grant proposal.
After the crunch of preparing for the Public Meeting, when I finally got to read so much of the back and forth emails among our amazing grant writing team, I realized that without at least 3 or 4 of us being on a 24/7 schedule working on this for the next four days, there was no way we would even meet the Grant’s “Threshold Criteria,” And, if that didn’t happen, there was no way the Agency was going to look at anything else we had to say in our proposal.
That night I finally took a look at the bids for removing the contaminants inside the buildings, and, by golly, they were a pittance compared to what we were planning to ask for in the Grant! Plus the Grant was going to require us to put $20,000 of our own money, and it didn’t appear that the removal of these building interior contaminants would cost more than that. When, just a week or two earlier, we were still considering including the soil remediation in the Grant proposal, $150,000 made a lot of sense based on the ABCA’s estimated costs that included soil removal. Now, however, it became clear that our month’s effort on this proposal was a huge success in putting a committed team together in a hurry, learning a lot, and becoming clear that money is great, but being true to our values and our vision is more important. I concluded it was time to halt the effort on this US-EPA proposal.
The calls I made that night and Sunday morning to each of the seven other team members were heartening. Each was glad we had worked together the preceding month, and looked forward to our next grant writing project. Everyone on those calls also had enthusiastic ideas and actions to share. From contacting local college and university graduate programs in Environmental Science, to taking our “dog and pony” show on phyto-technologies for remediating contaminated soils to Neighborhood Councils and other civic organizations throughout the City, to setting up a consulting team on phyto-remediation of soils. Over and over again, I heard “Nothing was wasted; we learned so much!”
And Other Happenings:
So, in addition to that, architect Ian McIlvaine has worked on some renderings showing potential locations of the hostel in the rear yard of the property, a new ELF loan came in, Questa has been drafting a Gantt chart showing phasing of the project, we had a professional survey done on the property so architect Ian McIlvaine could begin to proceed with accurate drawings, and our friend Jim Bledsoe is proceeding with a micro experiment using mushrooms to remediate the hydrocarbons accumulated in the southwest corner inside the garage.
About your quarterly interest checks: Several of you have still not deposited your interest checks from September. Please let me know if these are lost or not received, or just that you haven’t gotten around to it. Also, let me know if you’d prefer to have your interest checks just once a year instead of quarterly. If so, we’ll still send you quarterly updates. Much appreciate your responses on this.
Open Invitation to you all ELF lenders:
As many of you know we have veggie potluck dinners every Sunday evening from about 7 to 9pm. Please feel free to join us on any Sunday. Call me if you plan to attend, so I’ll be sure to be there.
Los Angeles Eco-Village to celebrate its 25th Anniversary in 2018:
Stay tuned for celebratory activities, and let us know if you’d like to be on our planning committee.
Thanks everyone for your continuing support.
Update on your ELF loan for September 1, 2017
Greetings! Things are moving along now, but, as usual, ever so slowly. Here’s Questa again to give you the update below. We are excited to share this with you on the one year anniversary of several of your loans. We are delighted to report that nearly all of you whose loans were for one year, have requested that the term of your loan be changed from “due in one year” to “annual review.” But, do keep in mind, it will not be a problem at all, should any of you request the return of your principal prior to the term on your agreement or the annual review next year. Let us know if your need arises. Also, if you have friends familiar with LA Eco-Village who might be interested in making a socially responsible loan to ELF, please share info with them or refer them to our website for more info on ELF: www.laecovillage.org under the <CRSP> top menu item. Gratefully, Lois.
Dear ELF Lenders,
Report on first events on the new property, June 17th: Tri-Board gathering, but first… Although the auto shop is almost completely cleaned out, there are still a few large pieces of auto equipment, several shelves of small auto parts in the office and a pile of miscellaneous junk adjacent to the shop outside. Feel free to make a date and come by to take a look if you think you might be interested in having any of it for a junk sculpture (it’s perfect for that purpose!) or other re-purposing.
The Tri-Board (CRSP, USTU, BVCLT) social gathering at the new property with lenders, USTU community members, friends and neighbors was an unquestionable success! About 30 attended, including 8 of you, our lenders. There were countless opportunities for connections and cross pollination between the groups. For those of you who were unable to attend, we created a five-dot survey for participants to prioritize their favorite potential interim or permanent uses of the space (assuming, at that time, that housing was a given). The most popular items and the number of dots each garnered are as follows:
- Vertical organic hydroponic farm – 18 dots
- Event Venue – 16 dots
- Fair trade coffee (Un-Gentrified) – 11 dots
- Music lesson studio and Tiny House Village – 10 dots each
- Seedling plant nursery, Place based school – 8 dots each
- Art Gallery, Veggie café, Bike shop, Used book store – 7 dots each
- Food co-op bulk bins – 6 dots
Several of these potential uses are not mutually exclusive. For instance, a veggie café could also accommodate an art gallery, fair trade coffee, and bulk bins.
The CRSP Board will be continuing to explore these and other options using a planning process that will generate input from the community and neighborhood. One idea, discussed below, is an eco-hostel instead of a permanently affordable cohousing development.
In the interim, we opened the space once more on July 27th for James Rojas’ internationally renowned and award winning “Place It” workshop! Nearly 60 people attended the event which was co-sponsored by the LATCH Collective and the “You Are Here” Meet-up Group. Watch for photos of the event on our LA Eco-Village blog.
US-EPA Phase II Targeted Brownfield Assessment (TBA), scoping document and remediation direction.
The results from this report are in. In summary, the property is below the contamination levels for commercial/industrial uses but too high for residential uses. There is asbestos in both roofs, lead paint and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) in the light ballasts. In the soil, there is lead and other heavy metals, diesel, chloroform and ethylbenzene. While all of this sounds pretty dire, it is actually much better than we had hoped for. In fact, we believe that if we chose to use the site only for commercial ventures, conventional clean up could be as short as 2 months and relatively affordable! Let us know if you would like to see the full report.
Christian Arnsperger’s Perma-Circular talk and the Emergence of the Eco-Hostel concept. On July 19th, Swiss Professor of Economic Anthropology Dr. Christian Arnsperger, graced our lobby for a talk on L.A.’s Perma-Circular Future. Earlier results on the Phase II TBA were beginning to make our vision for permanent housing look longer, more costly, and more difficult to move forward on bio-remediation with plants and mushrooms. Lois had been thinking about an appealing alternative use for the property. Then, inspired by Christian’s talk, Lois had an epiphany. Concept: a cooperative eco-hostel! Members would be other ecovillages, intentional communities and academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad. Although other prominent ecovillages around the world sponsor immersion programs, they are all rural. An eco-hostel could use the existing buildings, be remediated to the more lenient commercial standards, and provide an urban sustainable living immersion program to visitors and academic groups from throughout the world. Our USTU members and colleagues have a wealth of knowledge to share, and a curriculum would not be difficult to develop. This direction would not preclude the possibility of permanently affordable cohousing in some future scenario. And, incidentally, we are happy to report, about 600 units of affordable housing are already slated for development within about one-quarter mile of LAEV, and probably more planned that we don’t know about yet.
CRSP board meets with BuroHappold’s LAEV Engineering Team. We reported on BuroHappold, an international engineering firm specializing in sustainability, in our last update. Since then, a team of four BuroHappold engineering staff, were selected by their corporation’s internal grants process to provide volunteer engineering services to our new property! The team, led by Gideon Sussman, met with the CRSP Board last month, and we were inspired by their visionary thinking. It promises to be an exciting partnership, and they have indicated their early support for the eco-hostel concept.
Our dear friend and lender from Singapore, Sarah Ichioka, is curating an L.A. Eco-Village exhibit in Seoul this month at the 2017 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. For other media about L.A. Eco-Village, current and past, visit our blog https://laecovillage.wordpress.com/category/media/
CRSP board expansion CRSP is currently in the process of expanding its board of directors and re-establishing an Advisory Board of prominent people in the urban sustainability and co-op worlds. If you are interested in being considered for either, please forward your bio to Lois and call her to discuss. If you have recommendations for candidates, please pass them along.
Please continue to feel free to join us here at the Village any Sunday evening for our veggie potluck dinners at 7pm. Let us know if you plan to attend, so we can be sure to meet you here.
Again, we are grateful for your continuing support. Stay tuned. And best wishes for a safe Labor Day weekend.
Questa Gleason CRSP Special Projects Coordinator
June 1, 2017
Re: Update on your ELF loan
Greetings dear lender-friends,
Let me introduce you all to Questa Gleason who has been helping out on a variety of CRSP activities, but especially on the Raisin’Songs auto shop project. She’s among our newest Urban Soil-Tierra Urbana housing co-op members in the big building adjacent to the auto shop. And her balcony looks out over the entire south side of the corner property, so she provides extra security as well. I asked her to write this update. I hope you enjoy it and get a chance to meet her in person soon.
Dear ELF Lenders,
First and foremost, please SAVE THE DATE and keep a lookout for an email invite to a social event on the RaisinSong’s property at 3554 W 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90004 on Saturday, June 17 from 11am to 3pm. We would love to see all of you there! There will be food, fun and friends!
Oh my god there’s going to be a party! What does this mean, you may ask. It means that things are moving right along. Though it’s been an arduous process, there have been significant changes on the property since the last lender-friend update, a mere three months ago!
The US-EPA’s sub-contractor, Weston Solutions, spent a few days here doing their core drilling, collecting soil, gas, groundwater and air samples. With the completion of the Phase II Environmental Site Assessment actual testing, we expect to receive some preliminary results within the next two weeks. As we wait for the final report, we’ve gotten some great news: the geophysical survey utilizing magnetic and electromagnetic instruments to determine if there were any underground storage tanks from the gas station that was there in the 1920s/1940s came up negative! This is great news, and means we may be able to utilize the property much sooner than we had originally thought.
Some of you may remember the issues with trash, graffiti, and inoperable vehicles on the property described in the last update letter. While CRSP did pay one fine to the L.A. City Building and Safety Department, we were determined not to pay another. With the help of our dear friend Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal, we were able to establish two time extensions from the Building and Safety Department for getting rid of the vehicles. Graffiti is now being reported to 311 almost daily. The city comes and cleans it up within 3 days. Trash is also being picked up almost daily, by me personally, and sometimes by Lois. And new ownership signs have been posted in English and Spanish.
In addition, it’s bittersweet but a major win nonetheless – (drum roll please) – the inoperable vehicles plus the moldy camper shell are gone! Two amazing members of the LATCH collective (www.latchcollective.org) tiny house advocacy community, disabled veteran and mechanic extraordinaire Jason and his wife Taylor, spent several days here sorting through what appeared to be an endless sea of car parts, advising on what is useful and what is recycling, and carting away about a ton of scrap metal. In exchange for this invaluable help, Jason and Taylor hooked the inoperable RV to a hitch and hauled it away. They will be using it for their own tiny house with their service dog Lady.
The camper shell went to a lovely couple who are also with the LATCH collective, Mario and Siara. Our local architect/handyman Jim Bledsoe spent something along the lines of 5 hours getting it on the back of Mario’s truck. It was quite a saga.
The bittersweet news is that the step vans (think of a FedEx or food truck van) are gone. While we had wanted to do something creative with them, a constituency of Eco-Village members agreed that if we wanted tiny homes on the property, we had all the in-house knowledge we needed to create something much more interesting than what the vans could provide. Lois and I still saw potential in them, but the deciding factor came from the CRSP Board of Directors who sent the word out to get rid of them and avoid further fines and potential struggles with the city. We tried to give them away to a tiny house advocate or to any other friend or ally, but, in the end, we called a tow company and had them taken to the junkyard. End result, they are gone and the outside yard is practically cleared!
Now the really exciting news! Thanks to Lois’ tenacity, Jason’s mechanical know-how, and the help of countless others, the inside of the shop is practically cleaned out! When I first walked in there several months ago, it looked the exact same as the last day of business as an auto shop. All of the machines still sat there, and the shelves were completely full of parts, tires, dust and oil. I thought we should hire someone to clean it out, but Lois persisted, and I am proud to say that approximately 2 to 3 tons of scrap metal, tires, odd sized plastics, oil, and trash has been disposed of in an environmentally sensitive way. The next step is a power wash, some air filtering plants, a solid airing out and a PARTY!
While it is still likely that some bio-remediation will be needed, we are excited to begin considering proposals for revenue generating interim uses of the property. There are many diverse ideas on the table including (but not limited to) an open air market/mercado, thrift/consignment shop, farmers market, office space, bulk organic foods outlet/co-op, art gallery, book store, computer repair, bike shop, yoga studio, plant nursery, healing arts studio, juice bar, vegan or veggie cafe – any of which would be implemented in a way that is non-gentrifying.
Lastly, I’m delighted to report that our friends at BuroHappold Engineering (www.burohappold.com) volunteered to review and advise on the structural issues of the small café on the property. Thanks to their Associate Principal and structural engineer Patti Harburg-Petrich, we have strong direction for retrofitting this historically significant 1930s café. Our CRSP Board President, architect Ian McIlvaine (http://tierrasolymar.com/) is reviewing our next steps for retrofitting the Café.
Please continue to feel free to join us here in LAEV any Sunday evening for our veggie potluck dinners at 7pm. Let me or Lois know if you plan to attend, so we can be sure to meet you here.
We are grateful for your support. Stay tuned. And best wishes,
March 1, 2017
Re: Update on your ELF loan
Hi dear lender friends,
Things continue to move along and still slowly.
Some of you early lenders will be pleased to know that four more loans came in after we closed escrow on October 7th, 2016. Currently there are three more under consideration. So the count as of today is 25 loans for this project totaling $665,000.
We were delighted to learn that the US-EPA has approved our application for completing the Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. That work is scheduled to start this Friday, March 3rd with a geophysical survey utilizing magnetic and electromagnetic survey instruments to determine if there are any underground storage tanks from the gas station that was there in the 1920s/1930s. Further work by the US-EPA contractor will include core drilling into the soil to collect soil, gas, and groundwater samples as well as any air emissions inside the two buildings to determine if the site is impacted at concentrations that may pose a risk, considering our planned uses.
So that’s the good news.
The not-so-good news is that the L.A. City Building and Safety Department received a complaint about the property, did an inspection and cited CRSP for untidiness, graffiti and inoperable vehicles on the site. And, I was guilty as charged. Unfortunately, I had not put up an attractive sign stating CRSP is the new owner with contact information, and a rendering of our planned redevelopment. I was also tardy in getting a regular clean-up and graffiti removal schedule going. That might have avoided the complaint to the City, and brought it directly to me for corrections. So, CRSP paid the $356 Building and Safety Department fine to avoid further penalties. We are now picking up trash on the site daily; put some potted plants along the rear yard fence and building, and are arranging to have regular graffiti removal done. And, I hope to have a nice sign up on the property in the next few days.
But the exciting possibility is that the two inoperable RVs and two inoperable flatbed trucks make perfect raw materials for transforming them into beautiful works of art for a tiny house village in the rear yard of the property and/or other uses we may want them for in the future. We are currently partnering with the LATCH Collective and their coalition of groups in the LA area. The group of tiny house organizations is rapidly expanding into an advocacy coalition toward local policy makers and legislators to legalize tiny backyard houses, and tiny house villages, whether stationary or on wheels. For more info on this coalition, see http://latchcollective.com/ and especially learn about their upcoming events this weekend.
Obviously such regulations could go a very long way to increase affordable housing in our city without having to put out the average $400 per square foot for new multi-family construction to meet all of the City’s needs. Many complain that there is no land for such tiny house villages. Hmmm? Just ask me. Thousands of acres are potentially available, even within the densest parts of our City.
So it will be a bit of a challenge in the next few weeks to persuade the Building and Safety Department to refrain from penalizing us any more if the four inoperable vehicles are not removed by their deadline of March 9th. Some I have sought advice from on this issue, including the CRSP Board, would prefer for CRSP to just get rid of them. If any of you have a way to store them until they can be used by tiny house developers, let me know.
Meantime, I met with two local mushroom bio-remediation advocates last weekend; L.A. Eco-Village resident Federico Tobon and friend Kat Cheng. We discussed the potential of creating the public demonstration for remediating our potentially toxic soils with plants and mushrooms. And, then, as if on cue, Radical Mycology founder and author Peter McCoy (www.radicalmycology.com) contacted me this past Monday to inquire if we would host his three day LA workshop on mushrooms this Fall! An enthusiastic yes! I said.
I also recently met with representatives from the Los Angeles Trade Technical College from their automotive training program. They plan to return to the property with a truck to remove many of the automotive materials that they can use in their training programs.
Lastly, I’m delighted to report that our friends at BuroHappold Engineering (www.burohappold.com) have volunteered to review and advise on the structural issues of the small café on the property.
Please continue to feel free to join us here in LAEV any Sunday evening for our veggie potluck dinners. Let me know if you plan to attend, so I’ll be sure to meet you here.
We are grateful for your support.
p.s. For some of you, this will be your first interest check. Feel free to check the arithmetic. Here’s how your interest was figured: The amount of your loan times 1.5% interest, divided by 12 months, times 3 months plus number of days at the daily rate in a stray month that was not included in the full quarter. For example, if your loan was for $5,000 deposited on September 12, 2016:
5,000 x 1.5% = 75 / 12 mo = 6.25 x 3 mo = 18.75 + 6.25 for Oct + 6.25 for Nov + 19days for Sept x .2083 = $35.21
FYI and for clarity, our payout quarters start on 12/1, 3/1, 6/1 and 9/1.
December 1, 2016
Re:· Update on the Auto Shop Property Purchase
Dear ELF lenders and friends,
Things are moving along, but slowly.
Some of you are receiving your first interest check enclosed. Hurray. Others of you will receive your first interest check on March 1, 2017.
As you all know by now, we closed escrow on October 7th.
- It was a fun day with Mr. Song, the now former property
owner, showing several of us around the shop and little cafe: how to get in, how to turn on the lights, operate the security system, the lifts, etc. Thanks to L.A. Eco-Village resident Carrie Lincourt, who took a few fun videos of this “closing day” tour, you will soon have an opportunity to view them.
Our Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) was completed as needed before the closing. That report recommended : that we have a Phase II ESA, because we learned that there was a gas station on the property from 1925 to 1942. We have applied to the US-EPA Southern California Region #9 for financial assistance for the Phase II and the remediation plan, if necessary. We are still awaiting word on that.
Meantime, I attended a talk by mushroom expert Peter McCoy a few weeks ago and purchased his amazing new 650 page resource book Radical Mycology. As I have mentioned to several of you, if we do have to do remediation, we will handle as much of it as possible with plants and mushrooms which have been effective in remediating a variety of hydrocarbons and heavy metals. This may take longer than just hauling toxic dirt away, but the important point is to demonstrate’ that we have to reinvent how we live in the City such that there is no “away.” We have to heal the places where we are!
Several Eco-Village/Urban Soil members are advocating strongly that CRSP re-open the small cafe on the west side of the property, formerly known as the Teriyaki House. The 12 seat diner has enormous potential as a veggie cafe. Nonetheless, the Building Inspection report indicated that the 1930 building is very vulnerable from a structural perspective. So we will be taking a closer look at what it will take to make it safe. Meantime, we will be in search of a knowledgeable co-op oriented neighborhood based team to manage it.
‘Please continue to feel free to join us here in LAEV any Sunday evening for our veggie potluck dinners. Let me know if you plan to attend.
We are grateful for your support.
Opportunity To Be Part of Los Angeles History – August 14, 2016
I am contacting you because of your interest in the work of Los Angeles Eco-Village (LAEV) and your interest in the journey to reinvent how we live in our cities. The main project of CRSP for the past 25 years has been the two block LAEV demonstration neighborhood where the social, economic and ecological components are being systematically connected, resulting in a higher quality of life at a much lower environmental impact.
Our accomplishments include:
- 50 units of permanently affordable ecologically and permaculture-oriented cohousingLA Eco-Village Bimini Apartments
- Incubation of new green co-op oriented organizations and businesses, including the Bicycle Kitchen, Cafecito Organico, the Food Lobby, Pacific Electric Worker Co-Op, Relampago Wheelery, the LAEV Family Childcare Service, Urban Soil-Tierra Urbana Limited Equity Housing Co-op, and the Beverly Vermont Community Land Trust.LAEV intentional community members also helped start or grow CicLAvia, the LA County Bicycle Coalition, the Los Angeles Permaculture Guild, the Arroyo Seco Network of TimeBanks,, and the multi-school White House Place Learning Garden. and last, but not least, the CRSP Ecological Revolving Loan Fund (ELF).
And that last item, the ELF, is a major reason you are receiving this note today. We’re growing the ELF and invite you to be part of it. Here is the Who, What, Where, Why, and How to be Involved:
Who: CRSP, the initial nonprofit development organization of LAEV, is in escrow for the quarter-acre auto repair shop and Teriyaki House on the north corner of the LAEV neighborhood at First Street and Bimini Place, adjacent to our largest building.
What: We plan to redevelop the site as the first new construction CAR-FREE mixed-use, permanently-affordable, ecologically-sensitive, culture-changing cohousing co-op community in Los Angeles. It’s been 70 years since Los Angeles has had a car-free development.
Why: In spite of billions of public dollars put into our rapidly advancing transit systems, the public is still trapped in auto congestion and gridlock. (Car sales have never been better.) Someone’s got to step in and say “enough already, NO MORE CARS” but also provide an alternative. We’ve decided to meet the challenge. We invite you to come along with us for the joy and excitement of “being the change” our Earth, our Nation, our City so desperately needs.
How you can be involved:
- Loan money to our ELF for the corner acquisition. At 1.5%, we’re paying interest rates competitive with your saving accounts. And you’ll know where your money is and the good it is doing. We’re seeking up to 35 loans from $5,000 to $100,000. Ask Lois to send you the two page Prospectus or the longer Draft Property Analysis, Purchase and Development Plan. Visit our website to view the ELF fact sheet and draft loan agreement.
- Join the “culture change” team. Are you an anthropologist, sociologist, psychologist, health and wellness advocate, urban planner—professional or amateur—interested in how society changes? Want to help make the change happen? Come brainstorm and plan with us. Join the “culture change” co-op team. We’ll be meeting in person and on-line. Let us know if you want to be a team member or coordinator.
3. Become a future member of the car-free cohousing community. Keep in mind that we are within walking distance of two subway stops and 20 bus lines, with another major transit amenity planned for Vermont Avenue. If you or your up-to-three-person household falls within very low to moderate income guidelines, start saving now with ELF for your share payment in the future cohousing limited equity co-op. You’ll be invited to participate in the design and to form community with future neighbors. Your savings will be refundable if you do not become a member of this co-op. Contact Lois for other qualifying criteria.
We are scheduled to close escrow October 8th, 2016 (yay! we got an extension from September 8th), and we have commitments of $600,000. Will you be among the 35 people who help double that in time for the closing and beyond? All three of our multi-family buildings have been acquired by this same method, without bank loans. We invite you to take advantage of the opportunity to make this the fourth!
Thanks for reading and being part of the future.
Founder, Executive Director
117 Bimini Pl #221
Los Angeles CA 90004