Oral Histories

Interview of Lois Arkin

Founder of Los Angeles Eco-Village. Executive director of Cooperative Resources and Services Project.
Environmental Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Environmental Movement
Biographical Note:
Founder of Los Angeles Eco-Village. Executive director of Cooperative Resources and Services Project.
Collings, Jane
Arkin, Lois
Persons Present:
Arkin and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Arkin's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research. B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA.Collings prepared for the interview by reviewing material about Los Angeles Eco-Village and the intentional community movement. Papers relating to the specific history of Eco-Village were supplied by Lois Arkin and are part of her personal collection. Other materials included widely available published works on the intentional community movement in the United States and internationally.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Arkin was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a number of corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
9 hrs.
Interviewee Retained Copyright
Series Statement:
The series documents environmental activism in the Los Angeles area from the 1970s through to the present day. The majority of interviews are with either founders or knowledgeable participants in major regional environmental organizations. Represented groups embody a wide range of issues, including conservation, restoration, environmental justice and toxic waste disposal.Additional partially processed interviews are available through Library Special Collections.
Early life—Father’s career as a builder—Early education—Family relationships—Early childhood and education—Family’s ethnic and religious background—An entrepreneurial grandmother—More on family relationships—More on family’s ethnic and religious background—More on early childhood and education—Influence of father’s career on Arkin—Health issues—Career goals—Sibling’s careers—The importance of community for Arkin’s sisters—Arkin’s commitment to the notion of intentional community.
Attends college—Gets married—Attitudes toward marriage—Married life—Open marriage—Academic interests—Performs in theater while at school—Sibling rivalry sparks awareness of plight of underdog—Arkin’s wedding—Moves to L.A.—First jobs—Family planning—Work environment at RocketDyne—Husband’s career—Residences while in L.A.—Returns to college—Takes a position as a probation officer—The ethics of success—Arkin’s self-esteem—An innovative neighborhood-based program for kids on probation in East L.A.—Declines an opportunity to launch a youth program in South Central L.A. —The breakup of Arkin’s marriage—A trip around the world—Takes up tennis—Learns about the notion of intentional community while working in Fuengirola, Spain.
More on learning about intentional community in Fuengirola, Spain—Imagines a gift of jewelry for President Richard Nixon—Travels to Morocco—Learning about lifestyles of people around the world—Sustainable lifestyles in Europe and the Middle East—Determination to be a traveler rather than a tourist—Sells stock in an oil company—Returns to L.A—Lives a ‘hippie” lifestyle—Arkin’s boyfriend—The music business in L.A.—Apprentices with Helen King, secretary to California Copyright Association—King’s sense of social justice—Organizes a folksong festival—The benefits of the apprenticeship—Establishes with King a nonprofit Songwriters Resources organization, SRS—Enters into a new relationship—Attempts to structure the SRS organization laterally—Suffers the death of a loved one—An SRS retreat—Learns about the cooperative movement—Jerry Borges becomes Arkin’s co-op mentor—The value of apprenticeship—Meets the David Arkin family—Meets Harriet Smith—Develops adaptive ability to accomplish what is needed.
Warren Christiansen—The Garden Theatre Festival—Impact of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program on the arts in LA—More on the Garden Theatre Festival—An audit of the festival’s finances—More on Warren Christiansen—Founding of the Cooperative Resources and Services Project (CRSP) as a cooperative resource center.
Arkin’s intention to form a cooperative organization—Arkin’s interest in cooperative housing—Begins CRSP as a cooperative housing center—Launches a cooperative resource fair at Exhibition Park—More on beginning CRSP as a cooperative resource center—The sustainability of CRSP—Arkin’s position as a war tax resister—CRSP activities—Moves into White House Place neighborhood—The mutual housing concept—Public advocacy on behalf of co-housing—Begins the retrofit of the Eco-Village neighborhood in 1992—Develops a sense of community spirit in the vicinity of Eco-Village—The value of pooling resources—Community activities with neighbors—The Eco-Village resident’s commitment to be car-free—More on community activities with neighbors—The fluidity of the Eco-Village neighborhood—Under-housing in the Eco-Village neighborhood—Eco-Village housing policies—More on community activities with neighbors—The purchase of the first Eco-Village building—Input for the Eco-Village board on the purchase of the building—Community development plans—The community land trust movement—The contributions of Maria Davalos to the fruit tree program—Obstacles facing initial plans for an 11-acre site for building an Eco-Village in Happy Valley—The inspiration to form Eco-Village in a neighborhood that was affected by the 1992 uprising—Puts the emphasis on the community aspect of ecological planning—Crucial social dynamics in intentional communities—The Eco-Village member selection process.
Eco-Village group responds to neighborhood’s concern about crime by building a sense of community—The Eco-Village newsletter—The layout and constituancy of Eco-Village neighborhoods and businesses—The interest on the part of Eco-Villagers to make the neighborhood car-free—Eco-Village food shopping—Eco-Village policies governing the storage of personal belongings—The challenges of self-government in an intentional community—The initial challenges posed by the initial move into the Eco-Village building—The CRSP Board—Relations between the community, the CRSP Board and the CRSP organization—Role of the CRSP Board—The shared streets initiative for Bimini Place—The condition of the Eco-Village at the time of purchase—Arkin’s vision for the Eco-Village community—Arkin’s ongoing work to combat stereotypical thinking—Impetus for change on the individual level toward achieving a green lifestyle—The role of the CRSP Board in relation to the Eco-Village self-government—Struggles with difficult tenants at Eco-Village—The development of guidelines for Eco-Village community members—The evolution of the mode of decision-making at Eco-Village—Struggles among Eco-Village residents.