Surprising Lessons From Planning a Sustainable Community


Scientific models cannot adequately characterize the implications for and interactions among environmental, social and economic systems so that communities can make decisions that will sustain them. Principles of community planning offer a way around this problem if criteria for these systems can be identified. In 2006, the EPA identified these criteria and demonstrated their application to Stella, Missouri. The result was a community plan that provided a selection of options that directly meet community needs while helping to maintain the integrity of the systems that make it possible to survive. The progress made by this small community surprised everyone, but the real surprises came in the lessons that were learned about sustainability, survival, capabilities, and the alternative strategies required to be sustainable. This presentation addresses one of the first attempts to plan a community to be sustainable and reveals some surprising lessons.