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The Natural Step for Communities: How Cities and Towns can Change to Sustainable Practices Paperback – April 1, 2004
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Sustainability may seem like one more buzzword, and cities and towns like the last places to change, but The Natural Step for Communities provides inspiring examples of communities that have made dramatic changes toward sustainability, and explains how others can emulate their success.
Chronicled in the book are towns like Övertorneå, whose government operations recently became 100 per cent fossil fuel-free, demonstrating that unsustainable municipal practices really can be overhauled. Arguing that the process of introducing change-whether converting to renewable energy or designing compact development -is critical to success, the authors outline why well-intentioned proposals often fail to win community approval, and why an integrated approach-not "single-issue" initiatives-can surmount challenges of conflicting priorities, scarce resources, and turf battles.
The book first clarifies the concept of sustainability, offering guiding principles-the Natural Step framework-that help identify sustainable action in any area. It then introduces the sixty-plus eco-municipalities of Sweden that have adopted changes to sustainable practices throughout municipal policies and operations. The third section explains how they did it, and outlines how other communities in North America and elsewhere can do the same. Key to success is a democratic "bottom-up" change process, and clear guiding sustainability principles such as the Natural Step framework.
The book will appeal to both general readers wishing to understand better what sustainability means and practitioners interested in introducing or expanding sustainable development in their communities.
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My one criticism is that I wish there were a greater geographical variety of communities discussed in this book. Since The Natural Step was created in Sweden, it makes sense that it has had the most prevalent impact there. As such, many of the communities discussed are Swedish and at the end of each chapter examples from around the world are given in a concluding paragraph. I think an updated version using fleshed-out international examples would benefit the readers of this book, but honestly you can't go wrong with the version as is.
As with anything in sustainability, there is no one size fits all solution. When reading this, use your abstract thinking skills to apply these concepts and methods to communities of different population sizes, geographical expanse, diversity, affluence, and so on. Particularly here in the US, people would do well to give this book a read.
First, I don't believe, poor communities would change that much unless the education and morality of neighborhood improved. That is, in my opinion, the biggest obstacle. Also, the Natural Step has always been with us. It is a natural progression. As with all experiments the success requires testing, analysis, cost benefit analysis, investments, communication, Engineering, sciences, and the such always based on quality of life, standard of living, or lower cost. For instance, read up on the technology of farming. It is amazing, the modern practices.
Some things to think about....would community gardens or private household hydroponics and Earthboxes may be a better alternative? Consider progress upon the medical sector as technology, meds, and statistical studies uncovering tremendous disease prevention improvements. Energy sector is currently in revolutionary phase with alternative fuels, energy storage, and efficiences. Electrical grid and power generation for long time has quietly been tested and improved upon technology.
May this be the biggest benefit to society to finally becomes interested in such matters? To actually invest in being part of the experiment? That merely becoming an intelligent consumer the most benefit. That increasing cost or taxes on unhealthy products to reflect true cost do as much? This would empowering open market solutions, which always have more power for change than government edicts. Also, may the entertainment or news industries just not equipped to do much informing or educating in non bias format. This may just be the Achilles Heel of our society and problem? Meaning it's just to easy to ingest garbage for fun/entertainment. May Hollywood be as toxic as Twinkies or Big Business? May the little tyrants upon community boards and code enforcers be as bad in stopping progression to sustainable neighborhoods? May the Trial Lawyers within reality be killing off imitativeness as it will always carry more liability and risk. May large central bureaucratic control be the biggest obstacle to change? These agencies empowered and put in place for health, safety, and environmental concerns yet the bureaucratic control just squash easy solutions and change. May reeling in these bureaucracies and instead allow more bottom up solutions be better. To communicate successes and replicate with some monetary incentives?