Today, I took a tour of the Old Oak Dojo, a Jamaica Plain studio space that is fascinating for both its function and its form. It serves as a space for yoga, tai chi and other wellness-related events. And the retreat and event space is made available as a gift to grassroots groups and nonprofits involved with advancing social justice and equality.
But the building itself is fascinating because it is certified as a Living Building Challenge building. The Living Building Challenge is an attempt to build in restorative fashion, not just minimizing a footprint but actually restoring the material and spiritual worlds. For energy, it needs to be more than net zero and actually generate energy; for water, it needs to harvest and reuse rainwater and utilize indoor composting toilets. The materials aspect are a real stretch, because all materials — I mean, all of them — need to be locally sourced and/or salvaged. And that is a true challenge. Hearing about the process, and about the difficulties with city zoning and state building codes, really impressed me, but it is a real stretch.