Section 1 - What is sustainability?
The purpose of this section is to introduce the participants to the concept of sustainability, sustainable communities, sustainable development, and indicators of community sustainability.

By the end of this section, participants will understand sustainability as a concept that includes carrying capacity, a community vision of the long-range future that includes all members of the community and links the environmental, economic, and social aspects of the community. Participants will also understand how sustainability is defined by a number of different groups, the common elements of those definitions, and some indicators that are being used to measure sustainability.

Tips for Teaching/Key Elements

The important concepts to emphasize are:

1) Sustainability is not really an 'environmental' movement, it is a community movement. It is the concept that humans are a part of the ecosystem, and we need to learn to integrate our economic and social lives into the environment in ways that maintain and enhance the environment rather than degrade or destroy it.

2) Sustainable development is not sustained growth.

3) Living within the carrying capacity of the earth is a basic component of sustainability.

4) A sustainable community seeks to maintain and enhance all three types of community capital: natural, social, and financial/built.

5) In the context of the sustainable community movement, a community is a geographic area that is defined by the members of the community. It may be a small rural town, an urban area, or a larger region or country.

6) Traditional indicators tend to focus on a single aspect of a community and frequently measure the number of dollars involved with an activity. Some examples of these individual aspects of a community are culture, economy, education, environment, government, health, housing, population, public safety, quality of life, social, resource use, recreation, transportation.

7) Sustainable community indicators show the links among different aspects of a community and measure results, not input.

8) Sustainability is a long range--25-50 years minimum--view of a community that allows all members to participate, acknowledges the links between the economic, environmental and social aspects of a community, considers carrying capacity, and is measurable.
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