Hello from Los Angeles. After a 21hr travel day and a rather nervous wait for negative Covid tests we find ourselves in this vibrant, hectic, intoxicating mega city. The first thing that hits you about this place, (especially given the tranquil surroundings that we became accustomed to in La Ecovilla) is the bombardment of advertising. Bill boards, radio, screens. It’s incessant and inescapable. The contrast between La Ecovilla and Los Angeles is extreme and fascinating.
The connection between people and their environment feels broken here. I’m sure not for everyone but for many. It’s pretty much impossible to get around without a car. The combination of the scale of the city and terrible public transport infrastructure means that people are in their cars always. It’s just a reality of life here for most LA residents.
All that said I don’t want to paint an overtly negative picture of LA. We loved the walk from Venice Beach to Santa Monica Pier. The colourful characters lining the broad walk. You don’t know what’s coming next! It’s intoxicating no doubt. Our walk up to the famous Griffith Observatory overlooking the city was beautiful and really quite serene. We visited the stunning LACMA museum. There’s so much to see and do here. But if you choose to see it, the evidence of a broken system is so clear to see.
On the way to Santa Monica we drove past a vast tented community underneath a freeway where all the homeless choose to bed down. There is safety in numbers for these unfortunate souls and they’ve built a community for themselves. The constant political debate here is what to do with this growing population living on the fringe of acceptable society. The gulf between those that have and those that have nothing is as extreme as I’ve ever seen. Perhaps it’s no different to most cities in the Western world but it’s definitely more visible here in LA. It’s quite dystopian watching the status symbol cars driving past those with nothing other than a grubby tent and their few belongings under that freeway.
The point in writing and thinking about this is of course that it relates to our project. That question of ‘is there a better way’. Looking under that freeway it’s pretty clear to me that we can and must do better.
And that brings me nicely to this weeks video. An interview with Louis and Raya of considerable YouTube fame. A couple who believe in the power of community. Who believe in it so much that they are joining the pioneering eco village community of Alegria Village right next door to La Ecovilla. I hope you enjoy their thoughts…