Sunday: Chicken Corner was a home tourist, attending the Echo Park Historical Society's Urban Sustainable Living Tour. Formerly a member of EPHS's board, she went as a civilian, delighted by this year's concept of eco-friendly adaptations for older houses. There were walls made of seashell plaster; a gorgeous floor of "reclaimed" wood; an urban farm with 17 chickens and about as many raised vegetable beds, along with an orchard, herbs, and an outdoor living room. (One of the things Chicken Corner loves about the green movement is the adaptable reuse it makes of common language, with terms like reclaimed wood and outdoor living rooms, etc.) A house on Lemoyne had a graywater system, 80 percent solar energy, and "repurposed" lumber. A different house, on Valentine Street, had gardens that were planned so that the thirstiest were planted on the lowest terraces, with the most drought-tolerant at the top of the slope behind the house.
Taken as a group, the ten lovely houses on the tour were not the neighborhood's swankiest. But they exhibit the creative spirit that is one of EP's strengths. And they argue for a statement by Echo Park's Louis Montoya of Montoya-Turin Designers that "the most sustainable structure is one that is already built." Preservation is a core issue for the Echo park Historical Society; with this year's home tour EPHS demonstrates how preservation and conservation are compatible. Old houses in a new green world!