Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Living in community means making decisions with a large group of people. We meet by consensus and decide how to address our water needs and situations. Since we are currently required by law to be attached to LADWP for our "public utilities" there are certain restrictions on what we can work with locally. Most of Southern California does not allow for composting toilets or other natural waste aeration systems that handle flow differently than the system understands.

To rehabilitate an older home in Los Angeles we have worked in partnership with our local building and safety offices, planning committees and licensing for contractors and for repair permits. It's an extraordinary process that's not easy for the average user. We have tried working with our local departments to encourage solar and other DIY solutions but so far it has not been easy for us to create our own solutions and permit them legally for urban use.

While we've found great partners to work with on energy, water, gardening and sustainable material use we have not been able to implement a third of our ideas due to local restrictions. Urban life requires a number of compromises that include decisions made quickly, sometimes with poor information, that affect the public health of all citizens. Are composting toilets unsafe? Should we be allowed to have our own cisterns for garden use? Legislators in many towns are making these decisions for us, along with telling us that we must have a lawn (not a food forest or permaculture garden)....many of these decisions waste more water in areas where water is becoming a very precious resource.

I have not figured out how to turn around our urban approach to water beyond the monopoly pattern parodied in Tank Girl, a young woman ready to throw bombs to get access to water. I do not know if water wars are in our future but I hope that we are able to build more peaceful relationships starting in our own communities to share what resources we have efficiently. In California farms are dying from lack of water and many other problems from food shortages to labor can be tracked back to poor water management by government and agency officials. I hope to do more in our local community -- a few years back I tried as a representative to our local neighborhood council in Los Angeles but found that advocacy and active lobbying is required that is not allowed when serving in a public office. We need both advocate and legislators to make it easier for everyone to sort out safe water solutions, especially in times of great crisis.

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