Sustainability in communities: conditions and strategies for a new planning paradigm
De Heer, L.M.
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Communities are recognizing their crucial role in developing and implementing sustainability policy. Integrated community sustainability planning is an emerging field for both theorists and practitioners, with current emphasis on Canadian mandates for sustainability. This research aimed to improve understanding of the conditions and processes by which communities in Oregon, USA are embedding sustainability ethics and community participation into decision-making and action. The research began with collective action as a premise for sustainability community development and developed a conceptual framework of important community conditions through grounded theory work in Corvallis Oregon. The research goal aimed to address the question, under what conditions and through what design processes are communities in Oregon, USA initiating integrated community sustainability planning? Follow up investigations in Ashland and Lincoln City, Oregon supported the initial findings of critical community conditions, which include civic engagement, history of citizen participation in local government, commitment to the community, and sustainability awareness. Results indicate that local capacity, defined as the local government’s willingness and ability to engage with the community, is the primary sticking point for comprehensive sustainability planning in Ashland. These communities represent initial case studies into the actions small communities in the US are taking to address sustainability and resiliency at the local level.