Kailash Ecovillage is a sustainably focused community located on a two-acre site in inner SE Portland, Oregon, about four miles from downtown. We are located in the Creston Kenilworth neighborhood.
Our main building consists of 30 one-bedroom apartments. Two additional 2- bedroom apartments have been remodeled as a men’s dormitory and another shared living space.
An adjacent house serves as living space and office for the community managers. It has an additional unit with 4 rooms with shared kitchen, patio, and courtyard.
We have many shared areas, including a community room, shared laundry and mail room, recycling and composting areas, and a meditation space that doubles as a guest room.
Our extensive gardens consist of individual garden plots as well as communally managed spaces. The latter include a perennial fruit orchard and food forest, vineyards, berry patches, and areas for annual crops.
Currently we have about sixty residents.
To maintain affordability, Kailash Ecovillage uses a rental model. This allows individuals with lower income and those without prior housing ownership to experience intentional community. An alternate model for intentional communities is cohousing, but a condominium model requires substantial individual capital, or a mortgage, as well as significant monthly homeowner fees.
Kailash Ecovillage is a community committed to providing a sustainable, beautiful, and safe living environment for individual residents as well as the greater community.
Kailash Ecovillage Values Statement
• Sustainability: organic gardening, composting, local food production, frugal use of energy and resources, alternative sources of energy and water, reducing, reusing, recycling, human-powered transport
• Safety: ensuring community safety through a stringent screening process, neighbors looking out for each other, and other measures
• Respect: for other beings and our earth
• Diversity: our community includes different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, incomes, ages, family types, sexual orientations, and spiritual paths
• Children and elders
• Each others’ privacy
• Vegan community gatherings and celebrations: maintaining a vegan community meal allows all residents to participate. We welcome individuals to share any other dietary restrictions.
• Education: learning amongst ourselves and teaching the larger community about sustainability
• Open-mindedness: welcoming new ideas
• Experimentation: exploring new methods of sustainable urban living
The main building was constructed in 1959 as the Cabana Apartments. We have little information about the early years, but it appears it was a Hawaiian themed up-scale development. The space that is now the community room was called the Lanai Lounge and was apparently a party room. What is now the Men’s Dorm was the recreation room. Until several years ago the southwest area had a swimming pool open in the summer.
Unfortunately, the space fell on hard times due to poor management. It became known as the “meth” apartments. Residents witnessed shoot-outs in the parking lot and drug dealing in many of the units. Fully one quarter of the units became unlivable due to neglect. Transients were discovered living in the boarded up areas.
In 2007, Ole and Maitri Ersson, with the assistance of One Pacific Coast Bank, purchased the property and began its redevelopment as a model sustainable community. Twelve parking spaces were depaved to make way for new gardens. The lounge and recreation spaces, long boarded up, were remodeled as the community room and Men’s Dorm. A new emphasis was placed on recycling, composting, and gardening, with a focus on food production.
In 2010, the adjacent property, slated for a housing development, was re-acquired as part of the project, quintupling the available garden space. Since that time new covered bike parking and garden tool storage have been developed, as well as large areas for a fruit orchard, berry and grape patches, composting areas, and community gardens consisting of 46 individual garden plots and areas that are communally gardened with annual crops.
The main building has been retrofitted with a large solar project and all rooftop and remaining driveway water is now diverted to on-site rain gardens. Many individual units have undergone extensive renovations and updating. The adjacent house has been remodeled using state of the art energy conservation principles.