Pando at SSS HSRC

The Sisters of Social Service and Holy Spirit Retreat Center of Encino are collaborating with Pando to incarnate a vision for vibrant social and ecological community at their 10-acre location. The Sisters have long been at the forefront of justice.

The Sisters of Social Service (SSS) and Holy Spirit Retreat Center (HSRC), located within the hillside neighborhoods of Encino, in the city of Los Angeles, have become the second partners to join with Pando in its Pandotopia program, offering their property toward developing a series of experimental programs in light of the vision of Pope Francis’s call for “integral ecology.”

The vision is similar to what the philosophical theologian and Pando chair John Cobb calls “ecological civilization.” These ideas are also reflected in the goals of the Los Angeles County sustainability plan. The first Pandotopia campus launched at the Maryknoll Sisters’ compound in Monrovia in 2018 and extended until the early part of 2021. The three-year prototype served as a test-case for what we conceived as a “residential research park for integral ecology.”

View of a solar panel installation on a small residential building located on the 10-acre property. The Sisters of Social Service operate the largest private solar panel installation in the State of California.

Since 1926, when the SSS was founded in Los Angeles, the sisters have been serving disadvantaged and marginalized populations across LA County. In 2019, the sisters saw the completion, on their Encino property, of the largest privately-owned residential solar panel operation in California. With the solar-energy dream finally realized, the SSS and HSRC now seek to expand their Encino mission and ministries to incorporate projects and programs which directly impact environmental justice.

In partnership with Pando, the aim is to incorporate among their ministries, concrete eco-friendly projects which can demonstrate, educate and provide opportunities for incarnating visionary goals. These projects and programs, framed around the idea of service learning, will allow for the wider public to participate in teaching and learning methodologies in order to broaden the scope of community and civic responsibility for the care of our earth.

The campus serves both as a convent for the Sisters of Social Service and retreat center for highly diverse communities — faith, interfaith, and no-faith. In a year of regular operation, some 17,000 visitors might enjoy the facilities.

Pando at SSS/HSRC, Encino projects currently in development include:

Biophilia Treehouse – Developed for Pando Days in 2019-20 as a project in biodiversity addressing County sustainability goal #5, the Biophilia Treehouse is being installed on a hilltop overlooking the Encino campus’s lake. Designer Rebeca Mendez is creative director of the groundbreaking initiative, with an international team that includes the pioneer of baubotanik architecture, Ferdinand Ludwig. The project is a collaboration with Elon University’s Bringing Theory to Practice/PLACE and funded by the Mellon Foundation.

The hilltop location for Biophilia Treehouse overlooks the lake and promises to draw many to the site.

LACI Lab/ePave – ePave is a startup company developing paving solutions to address the “heat island effect” of asphalt and concrete surfaces – like driveways and parking lots, where temperatures can sometimes be nearly 20 degrees hotter than surrounding areas. One of the portfolio companies of the LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI), ePave is prototyping collaborative use of the campus to test-case development of sustainable technology.

ePave team floats a reflective surface onto the asphalt driveway, promising to significantly reduce the heat island effect of the pavement. ePave is an LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI) startup.

CSO hub – Southland chief sustainability officers (CSOs) are helping to imagine what a campus of service learning for integral ecology might be, including a residential fellows program and occasional meeting place for CSO Taskforce members themselves, to a more sustainable way of meeting campus water demands. 

Pandotopia Project Management – Made possible by the consulting firm of Plante Moran, specially-created project management software is being developed to map, coordinate, track, and assess action at religious campuses that aims to incarnate integral ecology. The project management system will be used to facilitate idea generation, planning, implementation, and impact assessment.

Stay tuned for further developments!

Related Programs

Pandotopia Blitz


Reimagining religious campuses as hubs of community resilience.

Pando at Maryknoll


Prototype to incarnate the vision of Pope Francis’s “integral ecology” at the Maryknoll Monrovia campus.