New Web-Series Documents Sustainable Planning Communities in Western US

This Summer, former CSUN film student Sophia Elden (Director) launched a documentary web-series about intentional living communities and the people who built them.

By reporting on sustainable development techniques and comparing them with public opinion, her web-series analyzes ‘The American Dream’ and encourages a dramatic change in the status-quo.

Minimizing one’s ecological footprint by providing a sustainable food source to a place of living has become a growing trend in the private sector, but “public spending on agriculture has fallen in all regions except Asia over the past generation,” according to the 2010 Sustainable Development Report from the United Nations.

Intentional communities choose to invest in this trend through sweat-equity.  They farm organically, and build complete houses with high thermal mass using renewable resources.  However, maintaining the commonwealth is not the arduous task.  Many residents of the PDX Commons in Portland, Oregon and members of the Earthship Headquarters in Taos, New Mexico explain their difficulty with municipalities approving their sustainable structures in the Sohana” documentary web-series.

“Re-Imagining The American Dream” features 12 developments each designed with residential and agricultural considerations in rural-suburban areas across the North and South Western United States.

“…small groups of people coming together to reclaim simpler methods and attitudes of living, shaping them to realities of the twenty first century.  By virtue of their living agreements, these groups of people can take the first strides towards a new American frontier… They are rescuing the idea of life in America as an expression of individualism and are beginning to Re-Imagine the American Dream.” ~Sohana


Episode 0” is the pilot that introduces the series and the 12 different intentional living communities they visited around the western United States.

Episode 1” focuses on Cooperative Housing: Multiple people living under one roof with agreed upon principles and guidelines.

Episode 2” focuses on unique buildings and structures designed to be inherently low impact.

Episode 3” focuses on Eco-Villages: Communities of people living under agreed upon principles and guidelines, with the intent of being more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable.

Episode 4” focuses on food production in the context of small scale farming practices.

Episode 5” focuses on cohousing: privately owned residences clustered on or around communally held land.

Episode 6” is the wrap up episode that addresses where the eco movement can grow in terms of accessibility and cultural diversity.  The American Dream from the perspective of an older generation, along with discussing the wonders of composting is also discussed.

We are Sophia, Haley and Nate, three students currently studying sustainability and action at The Evergreen State College. Sohana Webseries was created to explore some of the many ways Americans are coming together to live sustainably. Check out our blog to follow our  month on the road,  interviewing and filming a variety of different people and communities. Now we ask you… “What is the American Dream?”

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