We are in the midst of a global transformative change in what it means to be a “Community,” and in particular, a Sustainable Community. At the heart of this change is the growing recognition that personal, social, and cultural transformation itself is of primary importance, and not merely a means to an end. This movement recognizes that new communication, connection, and collaboration processes and organizational forms are needed to empower communities to use their own resources to create the future they desire. The triple bottom line of Sustainable Community, Economy, and Environment is the emerging substantive value framework, which invokes a new relationship with our future and high levels of responsibility for the consequences of our actions.
We are also at a coincidence of positive global movements that support needed change:
- An ever growing number of thousands of communities and organizations, including private businesses, are creating and pursuing sustainability initiatives using the Triple Bottom Line.
- In response to Globalization there is an emergent “Localization” movement that emphasizes social and economic empowerment at the grass roots community level.
- There is an explosion of networking initiatives that involve the use of social networking type tools and face to face group processes for business and social enterprise purposes—essentially a communication architecture that is self-organizing and gives communities a means of connecting people and organizations to resources. The networking revolution is in expression of, and a creative force for, the development of Social Capital as an essential element of Sustainable Community.
- Underlying these and other trends is a personal and cultural movement toward various values that bring greater intentionality to collaboration, information sharing, and relationships as a means of creatively designing a sustainable future.
- Finally, we are experiencing a breakdown in the ability of existing social, economic, and environmental resources to meet current and future challenges. Tremendous effort is being expended to support and rehabilitate existing systems, what Ken Wilber would call translative efforts to maintain the functionality of the existing system or developmental level. At the same time, there is a movement of consciousness, culture, and socio-economic systems and structure to create new systems that have greater capacity to adapt to current and future needs. The movement toward Sustainable Communities is a part of that transformative shift.
A “sustainable community” is an “abundant community”
PlacerSustain is a non-profit organization in Placer County, California, devoted to the stewardship of the communication and collaborative space from which people and organizations may empower themselves to create a sustainable future. It is a grassroots, peer to peer, self-organizing movement operating from a social networking, local organizational support, and personal interaction framework. We are in the early stages of development. The work of Peter Block and John McKnight on a new framework for working in Community is inspirational, and provides a lot of practical guidance. We look to connect with that effort and helping build a learning community of practice that is a resource to community organizing. A “Sustainable Community” is an “Abundant Community!”
Here are some web links to information about PlacerSustain:
Nobody is coming to rescue us from the future we are creating. The essential work we must do for ourselves, in and by local Communities. This is not going to happen unless we develop and apply new ways of being and working together, ways that honor who we already are.