How We Define Sustainable Community
Woodbine is a place where we exchange ideas, debate concepts, and crystallize our vision and practices of what it means to be a sustainable community. Discussions of our values and goals inform our learning, our work, and our play together. Likewise, our time together informs our values and goals. As a basis for ongoing discussion, we offer this working definition:
“A sustainable community meets its present social, cultural, economic, and ecological needs while protecting and enhancing the ability of future generations to define and meet their own needs.”
A Good Definition Sparks Questions
Our definition of sustainable community does not gloss over complexities and ambiguities but rather becomes the foundation for questions and discussion—and we think that is a good thing. Here are some of the questions the definition has raised in our discussions:
- “Why are we talking about sustainable communities instead of just sustainability? Why include social and cultural needs?”
- “How does the place where our community is situated influence and inform our understanding of sustainability?”
- “Which aspects of our current communities and economic systems are not sustainable and what must we do to transform them?”
- “Why is it important that we protect and enhance the ability of future generations?”
- “What does it mean to let future generations define their own needs?”
Anything as complex as community and sustainability has many unanswered questions. (We would need multiple books to try to cover them all.) But when we consider deeply how we define sustainable community, we can more clearly envision—and so make real—sustainable community in our lives.
A Good Definition Provokes Thinking;
It Doesn’t Shut It Down
Woodbine is a project of sustainable community—we are working to develop it, promote it, and to live it as best as we can. Thought-provoking discussion in this context means that we can all remain alive to the possibilities that sustainable community has to offer. We walk a path consciously. We don’t have all the answers, but we do seek to bring up the right questions and answer them together, to the best of our abilities. And we are hopeful about the future. We invite you to be part of the project.
Please check out From Crisis, Disaster, and Dependency to Self-Reliance, Autonomy, and Freedom: Creating sustainable communities—A five-year campaign at the Woodbine Ecology Center