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Our mistake has always been that we have let empire shape our cities, rather than letting cities shape themselves and, above all, demanding of people that they shape their cities.
Daniel Kemmis

Our Programs: Sustainability


A community that enhances what it already has – preserving history and open space, keeping costs lower, and creating stronger bonds between residents,


or a town that simply keeps adding more – farther and farther out – with scant concern for economic, social, and ecological consequences.

What’s Sustainable, What’s Not?

  • A community is "sustainable" when it can continue to develop at current levels and not leave fewer resources – natural, economic, built, or social – for the next generation. Think of your town as an investment: Can you live off the interest and not touch the principal?

  • If your town keeps moving in the direction it’s going now, will there be open space, a diverse selection of well-paying jobs, a unique built environment, and other opportunities for your children?

  • By definition and because some resources are finite, growth affects sustainability. In many ways, it’s a zero-sum game. If your town adds a suburban office park, how do you balance that loss of open space? To better understand and make choices, communities should design cost-benefit analysis tools that consider financial, social, and environmental trade-offs (what's called "triple bottom line" accounting).

  • An economy is sustainable if wages paid and benefits provided allow people to live in the town where they work. That’s not only fair, it turns out to be good business, too.

  • It’s not written in stone that communities have to grow. Most will, of course, but focus on the purposes driving growth. There’s a difference between quantitative growth (just more) and qualitative development (making things better). They’re not mutually exclusive, of course, but neither are they mutually deterministic; that is, growth doesn’t necessarily lead to a better standard of living and, in fact, it can have the reverse effect.