Sustainable Community Indicators
  • Number of hours working at the average wage needed to pay for basic needs
  • Acres of land redeveloped
  • Number of acres of farmland remaining in the county
  • Percent of food produced locally
  • Annual fuel consumption and number of vehicle miles traveled
  • Dollars spent in local community that stay local
  • Percent of goods made from recycled material
  • Annual harvest of timber compared to growth rate

Talking Points
  • Link between what you need and how much you have to work
  • Links among locally produced food, fuel used to transport, pesticide use
  • Links among fuel and vehicle use, air pollution and global warming

Here are some of the indicators that communities are using to attempt to measure their long term sustainability. Rather than measuring the economy, society and environment in separate boxes, these indicators link the three boxes. For example, the first indicator looks not just at the average wage, but at whether it is enough to pay for basic needs.

Remember that the point is not to let the measure become the goal. Don't measure the money, measure what you want the money to buy you. Some things to consider when developing indicators are:
  • How much you earn should be related to what you need to survive.
  • Look at how many people have jobs that use their skills and pay a living wage.
  • The more money circulates within a community before leaving, the more jobs are created.
  • Simply returning bottles and paper doesn't help if the material isn't reused.
  • Land is a resource; we need to recycle it as well.
  • Local food is fresher, requires less energy to transport, and may involve fewer chemicals.

(It helps to use examples that are relevant to the participants' situation.)
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Copyright © 1998 Maureen Hart. All rights reserved.