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
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
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
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
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.