Posts tagged environment

The Story of Stuff

Yesterday I finally got around to watching “The Story of Stuff.” Even at its totally ADHD-digestible 20 minutes, I hadn’t made it a priority because some part of me kept thinking, “I already know that.” But Annie Leonard’s disarmingly simple presentation hits home the message that our linear, unsustainable relationship with Stuff is coming apart, for better and for worse, and that we have a fundamental opportunity right now to redefine that relationship, close loops, create sustainable cycles, and change the way we do business. If we don’t, the results will cause (and to some extent already are causing) cultural indigestion and crises of gargantuan proportions in the health of human society. Alarmist? It only sounds alarmist to anyone who’s addicted to the functioning of the linear model of Stuff and who, like an ostrich, pretends not to see what comes out the back end.

Click here to watch The Story of Stuff, and please leave a comment with your thoughts and impressions.

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Accelerating Sustainable Communities

Lately I’ve been calling my project an “accelerator for sustainable communities.” And I’m realizing this term “accelerator” applies to so many facets of community building and what I call “writing the new story” of our culture. I liken the concept to that of a technology or business incubator, where new ideas are given enough support (financial, expertise, development assistance) to survive, develop and mature, launch, and hopefully thrive on their own. Applying this to sustainable community building means that community projects (and even whole communities) are afforded the support they need to bear fruit and thrive.
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What does a Sustainable Community look like?

Both “sustainable” and “community” can be defined in myriad ways. New models for community development and transformation can be created in the nexus of these concepts that offer innovative solutions to social, environmental, and economic challenges. A sustainable community uses resources efficiently and restores and protects natural areas. Its physical (i.e. static) design showcases the latest in sustainable materials and technologies. Its operational (i.e. dynamic) design demonstrates sustainable methods and processes, and the value of community gathering spaces and opportunities for interaction. The model of a sustainable community as envisioned here is one that is place-based (i.e. geographically defined) but that extends its reach by interacting with other communities regardless of location.

Robust design criteria for a model sustainable community can assist groups working at a variety of scales, from individual communities to cities and even regions, to construct realistic plans for actual community development. These criteria can also assist planners in incorporating model community features into long-range local and regional plans, and inform economic development plans and activities. I have developed a short document that outlines initial design criteria for further elaboration by diverse stakeholders. Please contact me if you are interested in reading it and offering feedback.

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