Sustainable Community Development
This page explores the idea of sustainable community development and what this type
of development can do to improve the quality of life within communities. This page examines what sustainable development entails and provides examples of the threats to quality of life that traditional approaches to development can generate. This document outlines six steps to a more sustainable approach to community development.
Trends Threatening Kirkwood’s Community
- Growth according to the Specific Plan must proceed responsibly
- Secondary home ownership creating challenges to community participation in decision-making
- Some perceptions of East and West, of PUD and KMR as not ALL being unified towards a common purpose for the best interests of the community as a whole
- How much of the profits from the major commercial enterprise are being removed from the community, instead of re-invested locally?
- Interconnection to the Grid causes energy to be generating OUTSIDE the community, with its accompanying losses through distribution, and growth enducement potential along Highway 88, causing overuse of our pristine mountain community.
- Grid interconnection may discourage alternative energy implementation.
- Lack of affordable housing takes employee dollars outside the community.
Sustainable Communities Are:
- Environmentally Sound: Decision-making focuses on reducing the impacts of population growth and development on natural resources and the environment.
- Economically Productive: Community members make local capital investments that will sustain local human and natural resources and yield adequate financial returns to those investments.
- Socially Just: Equitable access to resources and decision-making processes foster the distribution of energy, foods and benefits across all sectors to the community. Imagine a community where the air and water are clean, water supplies fully meet demand, where energy production is reliable, clean and affordable and everyone enjoys access to locally supplied safe and healthy foods, wildlife flourishes and the landscape is pleasing to the eye. Within this community, full participation and a spirit of cooperation pervade decision-making. People have an impact over their community’s future. The community vitalizes the village center and promotes regional identity and pride. Public transportation effectively reduces congestion and pollution from cars and buses, reduces transportation costs, and improves access to jobs and services. The community has established year-roundjobs and a living wage standard for all employees. A strong emphasis on education and training for all promotes an improved quality of life today and fosters future opportunities for the community’s youth. Far from being simply an exercise in imagination, communities across the nation are realizing similar visions of sustainable development for their communities.
A Focus on the Community
Kirkwood, like most of the nation, needs a plan of action to better address environmental, social and economic development.We face these problems at the community level and we
can solve them at the community level. For example,the UN World Commission on the Environment and Development defined sustainable development as
development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs.” At the community level these abstract goals can be
translated into concrete, effective action. Each community must develop its own vision and plan of action. There is no single definition of sustainable community development because every community has its own unique characteristics and challenges. Yet sustainable communities share common themes and concerns: economic security,environmental protection, social justice, and a commitment to the welfare of future generations.
Sustainable communities recognize that their economic and social structures and the health of the local environment are intertwined. They understand that programs and policies that foster only one aspect
In order to implement a strategy for sustainable development, members of the community must
believe that they have the capacity to resolve their own problems and shape their own future. A spider’s web looks fragile, but it can withstand extraordinary force with little damage. Strengthening the community’s capacity is like weaving a web that creates a social network throughout the community,providing support for all and extending and strengthening cooperation and collaboration among people, institutions, organizations, and businesses.
Even if it starts small, the network expands and incorporates more and more of the stakeholders. The network increases community cohesion and resilience
through innovative partnerships, increased collaboration, and a shared vision of the future.
Sustainable community initiatives, deal with global issues at the local level. There are many paths to sustainable development, as many as there are communities. The following steps
may help our community build and implement a sustainable vision of its own.
- Get stakeholder agreement on implementing a sustainability program.
- Conduct a community assessment.
- Create a community vision and develop a roadmap for reaching that vision.
- Develop sustainability indicators to measure progress.
- Identify sources of help.
- Carry out projects and monitor, evaluate, and make adjustments as needed.
Univeristy of Florida, IFAS Extension
Sustainable Community Development (FCS7213-ENG)
M.E. Swisher, Sandra Rezola and James Stern