it promotes, the LA Ecovillage highlights thepowerful contributions that communities canmake in helping to facilitate the transitionto a sustainable society. (See Box 11–1 for thedeﬁnition of community used in this chapter.)
Community practices and choices aboutland use, technologies, and transportationcan be used to model sustainable living. Theproduction of social capital—the glue thatholds communities together—can be tappedto help community members become leadersin sustainability and can provide the resiliencethat helps communities weather difficulttimes. Communities’ engagement in eco-nomic activities can help localize agricultureand the production of other essential goods. And their unique design can help stimulatenew ways to finance sustainability. Whilenational and global-level initiatives will beessential for building a sustainable world,community-level programs may prove indis-pensable in providing better models and theleadership to drive global-level change.
Perhaps most concretely, a community man-ifests its values through its physical design.Local gardens, solar panels on rooftops, and wind turbines spinning on a hilltop are typi-cal signs of an ecologically minded commu-nity. Built primarily to reduce ecological andfinancial footprints of communities, thesedesign features also play a strong role in mod-eling a sustainable way of living. Many aresimple enough to be taken on by practically any community. No matter the size—whethera small town or a neighborhood block—thereare immediate opportunities to retroﬁt a com-munity’s design and thereby lower its envi-ronmental impact, save money, and modelsustainability as well.Often all that is needed to make thesechanges is a bit of social support and peer edu-cation. This has proved to be the case inLydney, England, where residents set up aCommunity Energy Club to help bringenergy efficiency measures and small-scalerenewable energy projects to the area. Sinceit started in 2001, the club has grown to 115members who together have introducedabout 500 energy efﬁciency measures. Alto-gether these efforts will save 3,865 tons of car-bon dioxide (CO
) emissions over the life of the projects—a signiﬁcant amount consider-ing that the average U.K. resident producesabout 9 tons of CO
emissions each year.
Other times, what is needed is not justsocial support but mobilization of a com-munity’s resources—for example, to invest ina community-owned wind farm. In 2006,Findhorn Ecovillage in Scotland completedinstallation of four wind turbines that have acapacity of 750 kilowatts. Together theseproduce 40 percent more electricity than thecommunity needs, allowing them to generaterevenue by selling some back to the localutility through the broader grid system. Of course, this project took several years to planand construct, but now the wind farm pro- vides the community with both a source of clean electricity and revenue.
Opportunities to enhance the sustain-
WWW.WORLDWATCH.ORGSTATE OFTHEWORLD 2008
Engaging Communities for a Sustainable World
Community typically refers to a wide range of groupings of people:a church,a city,a politicalparty or other afﬁliation.But more funda-mentally,a community suggests a group of geographically rooted people engaged in rela-tionships with each other (though many of the examples of community discussed in thischapter have relevance to broader deﬁnitionsof community as well).Through theserelationships,members in a community haveshared responsibilities—as the Latin roots of the word suggest:
Source:See endnote 4.
Box11–1.What Is a Community?