Quirky Character: Leo Jara and His Creative Response to Climate Change

Today I’m introducing a new feature. . . it’s called Quirky Characters. I’m starting this feature because I’m a quirky-character magnet. My life is interesting because I attract people who have chosen to live in different ways or who simply emanate a quirky, innovative outlook on how they live their lives. They suggest new ways for us to look at how we live our lives and our world. So I’m going to take this part of my life and share it with you because I think these Quirky Characters deserve a bigger audience.

Leo Jara directly confronting climate change outside the eco-villa

The first official Quirky Character is Argentine Leonardo Jara, an eco-dreamer (he calls himself a “loco” [crazy]) who is building a sustainable community on the Tigre river just outside of Buenos Aires entirely out of trash. He calls it the Echo Movement. Why Echo? I asked. “It’s poetry.” He said. Each little pod of sustainable development will be an echo to others all over the world to create their own sustainable eco-villas: places that have been created to be sustainable, autonomous, and in harmony with the natural environment.

the eco-villa in all its recycled glory, Tigre, Bueno Aires, Argentina

Leo bought this land thirteen years ago when he was 23. Over the last four years, over 600 volunteers (travelers/backpackers/couchsurfers who have come through and spent a day or a week working with him) have constructed a little house made almost exclusively of recycled materials. Everything they use is someone else’s trash: the pots, wood, toilet, mattresses, lamps, wood, chairs, refrigerator, everything. Nothing was purchased (except for some materials for the roof and its system to convert rain water into drinking water). Everything was scavenged or given to them by neighbors. Who, by the way, all have very cute, fancy little weekend cottages and normal lawns–it’s quite the contrast between the wild eco-villa and the weekend homes surrounding it. (Imagine a band of environmental anarchists creating a community in the middle of the Hamptoms. Kind of like that.) Read More