The Natural Step for Communities Study Circle Guide/Session 1
Session 1: Introducing Natural Step Framework and Sustainability (Chapter 1, 2 & 3)
Begin with Circle Question: (Reminder: Each participant should provide an answer without comments or questions from others.)
- Can you think of a principle (ecological, ethical, etc.) that helps guide you in making decisions? What is the principle? How is it helpful?
- Can you identify and describe an experience you have had defining or explaining the concept of sustainability to people for the first time? Or, what have been your own challenges in understanding the concept? How might the sustainability objectives of The Natural Step help address these challenges?
- The authors talk about the importance of using an upstream approach to dealing with problems. Think of some of your community’s or region’s approaches in dealing with community or regional problems such as traffic congestion, challenges in education, homelessness, unemployment, or high health care costs. As a group, determine three examples of “downstream approaches” and three examples of “upstream approaches” to these problems?
- The authors in the book note that “communities are complex systems…this complexity often results in actions or policies that can work cross-purposes or compete with each other.” Have you experienced a similar situation in community? Explain.
- From what you have learned thus far about the Natural Step framework and what you know about your community already, to which issues in your community could the framework be applied to; immediately and easily? With the most significant impact?
- Did reading this section make you want to do something differently or to take some action in your life? If so, explain.
Further Reading and Resources
- Building a Green Capital City describes steps the City of Madison is currently taking to achieve a sustainable design and energy future.
- In 2006 Sustainable Robertsfor(Sweden) completed a five-year planning process resulting in communitywide participation, many new sustainability initiatives, an action plan to guide future efforts and a model for other eco-municipalities around the world.
- Inspired by the Natural Step framework, Whistler. It’s Our Nature is a program one Canadian community created to encourage local households, business and other organizations to live and work sustainably.
- Developed by a team working with Wisconsin emerging eco-municipalities the Toward a Sustainable Community: A Toolkit for Local Government is designed to provide ideas and descriptions of specific actions that a local government can take to transform itself into a model of sustainable practices.
- The Alberta Municipal Sustainability Planning guide is a how to for municipalities to look long-term at the community they want and take proactive steps to move there.
- The Natural Stepincludes a library of articles, case studies, academic papers and other publications that provide a deeper understanding of the framework and its application.
- The Swedish Eco-Municipality Association (SEkom) has collected information about a variety of successful sustainability projects.
- Sustainable Sweden organizes summer tours to several Swedish eco-municipalities.
- North American Eco-Municipality Network was formed at a gathering of representatives from several organizations and emerging eco-municipalities in Madison, Wisconsin in June 2004.