Definitions of Sustainable Development

The phrase “sustainable development” means different things to different people. Here are a collection of some of them:  “positive socioeconomic change that does not undermine the ecological and social systems upon which communities and societies are dependent.” ” development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet […]

A Meeting of Movements

In New York City the mayor tries to cast destruction of community gardens as a gain for housing advocates. Along the west coast, on-going battles pitch preservation of old-growth forests against retention of logging jobs. These struggles reflect an age-old assumption that open space preservation and affordable housing and job creation are mutually exclusive goals. […]

Green Communities, Green Jobs

Community Based Development Organizations (CBDOs) often get drawn into an environmental agenda by the need to organize against an environmental hazard. In Roxbury, Massachusetts, for example, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative’s early organizing targeted illegal waste transfer stations that blanketed their neighborhood; they got them shut down and the lots cleaned up. The group also […]

Sustaining Community Power

Growing up in Cleveland, Greg Watson says he “intuitively knew” early on that environmental issues were important, and at Tufts University in the late 60s he became involved in the environmental movement, at a time when his peers weren’t necessarily supportive or even understanding. Some African Americans felt that “it wouldn’t be so bad if […]

Building Green

One of the earliest experiments in ecologically aware affordable housing took place in Roosevelt, New Jersey, a WPA-era suburb, in the late 70s to early 80s. Architects of Roosevelt Senior Citizens’ Housing, a HUD-assisted project and 1985 National Honor Award winner, set out to incorporate energy-efficiency within traditional designs. “Chimneys” housed rotary ventilators and south-facing […]

Cleaner, Greener Chattanooga

Chattanooga, Tennessee, identified as the most polluted city in America by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1969, is now hailed as the crown jewel of the country’s sustainable development initiatives. From Chattanooga’s United Nations best practices citation to its inclusion in Utne Reader’s listing of the ten most enlightened towns in America, this […]

Location Efficient Mortgages

When families rely on public transit rather than automobiles for travel needs, they spend less on transportation. When they shop, work, recreate, socialize, learn, and participate in their local community, they don’t need to travel as much to begin with. These are the simple ideas underlying the Location Efficient Mortgage (LEM). LEMs work by quantifying […]

Minneapolis Goes Green

Minneapolis’s inner city is home to The Green Institute, a nonprofit economic development organization focused on sustainable enterprise. Incorporated in 1993, the institute originated from a grassroots campaign against the siting of a large garbage transfer station in the Phillips neighborhood. After stopping the transfer station, the community developed a plan for a new commercial […]

Livable Communities: A Shared Goal

On the face of it, the intersections between the sustainability movement and the community development movement are not too hard to identify. We know that low-income communities bear the bulk of environmental degradation, and that remediating brownfields promotes both environmental quality and reinvestment. The increasingly popular fight against “urban sprawl,” recently joined by Vice President […]

Shelter Shorts

The Welfare Shuffle As President Clinton and other politicians hail the news of the drop in welfare rolls across the country, a less rosy scenario is emerging. In Washington state, for example, 13,600 of 30,000 former welfare recipients who had found work either lost jobs or quit them between January 1997 and November 1998 and […]

When Fundraising Strategies Wear Out

Nearly all organizations have three fundraising fantasies:   Fantasy 1: The Council on Foundations will declare their group, “The group to fund now and forever” and, using one simple proposal photocopied over and over, the organization will apply to several foundations and receive lots of money. Because no strings are attached, there are few reporting […]

Develop the Economy, Don’t Just Grow It

Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development. Herman E. Daly. 253 pp. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. Although I’ve never met him, I must admit: economist Herman Daly has had a big impact on my life. As students in the late ’70s, some friends and I got so excited about Daly’s fundamental challenge to our economy’s […]

National Collaboration Drives Transportation Policy

On August 12, 1998, almost 1000 leaders from 14 states gathered in St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Chicago, Illinois, for a one-of-a-kind meeting. This was the seminal moment in a yearlong campaign that had proactively amended national transportation legislation to meet the needs of low-income and minority communities. They were there to hold […]

Washington News & Views

Community Reinvestment Act Under Attack Again The financial services modernization bill that almost passed last year is back, and would permit broad affiliations between banks, insurance companies, and securities companies. The bill is again numbered HR 10 as it was last Congress, and again has the potential to effectively gut Community Reinvestment Act incentives for […]