INSPIRING EXAMPLES OF THE SUCCESSFUL ECOLOGICAL TRANSFORMATION OF CITIES &
The Natural Step for Communities
How Cities and Towns can Change to Sustainable Practices
Sarah James and Torbjörn Lahti (New Society Publishers, 2004).
Book flyer with order form (1.5M .pdf).
Buy from publisher.
Sustainability may seem like one more buzzword, and cities and towns like the
last places to change, but The Natural Step for Communities provides inspiring
examples of communities that have made dramatic changes toward sustainability,
and explains how others can emulate their success.
Chronicled in the book are towns like Övertorneå, whose government operations
recently became 100 per cent fossil fuel-free, demonstrating that unsustainable
municipal practices really can be overhauled. Arguing that the process of
introducing change -- whether converting to renewable energy or designing
compact development -- is critical to success, the authors outline why
well-intentioned proposals often fail to win community approval, and why an
integrated approach -- not "single-issue" initiatives -- can surmount challenges
of conflicting priorities, scarce resources, and turf battles.
The book first clarifies the concept of sustainability, offering guiding
principles -- the Natural Step framework -- that help identify sustainable
action in any area. It then introduces the sixty-plus eco-municipalities of
Sweden that have adopted changes to sustainable practices throughout municipal
policies and operations. The third section explains how they did it, and
outlines how other communities in North America and elsewhere can do the same.
Key to success is a democratic "bottom-up" change process, and clear guiding
sustainability principles such as the Natural Step framework.
The book will appeal to both general readers wishing to understand better
what sustainability means and practitioners interested in introducing or
expanding sustainable development in their communities.
Sarah James is the principal of a community planning consulting firm. She
co-authored the American Planning Association's Planning for Sustainability
Policy Guide, and has published articles throughout the U.S. on this subject. Torbjörn Lahti was the planner for Sweden's first eco-municipality, and is
directing a five-year sustainable community demonstration project. He was
instrumental in forming the Swedish national association of eco-municipalities.
The Natural Step for Communities Book Discussion Questions
A growing number of study circles are using The Natural Step for Communities
as a guide for discussions and learning about what sustainability means. Study
circles are groups of usually 6-8 people who get together periodically over a
several-week period to learn more deeply about a particular subject, using
specific reading material as a guide. Sarah James has developed a set of
discussion questions tied to particular chapters of this book to aid study
circle discussion or for use in classroom situations. You can download these
questions here. (80K .doc)