In order to articulate and establish the objectives derived from community goals in working on sustainable community development, (SCD) it is first necessary for the community to analyze the problems that are at the origin of a particular objectives. This analysis will focus upon the exact reasons for creating each objective from an overarching goal as well as establishing measures of progress such as trends, unmet needs, underutilization of resources, and evaluation of community capacity. Defining a community’s problems is in fact going to be one of the main tasks of any SCD project.
The real question is whether the community list of “problems” is accurate and whether it includes only the symptoms of a particular situation rather than the actual problems that caused that situation. A sampling of several different community plans completed during the last decade show issues common to all communities to address in the future. Examples of these are listed below. Some of them can be quite specific and sophisticated in representing community governments and organizations. Others can be as important as only a single individual in the community believes them to be. And please note that you are not seeing these objectives in the context of serving their overarching goals, which makes it harder to interpret their meaning. These are shown simply as examples of how some communities have identified issues (problems) and developed objectives to support sustainable community development.
- Assist the Community to come together to develop a common vision for the area of what it should be in 20 to 30 years.
- Help the Community plan for and develop improvements to infrastructure that are environmentally sensitive and resilient.
- Implement programs to encourage the private sector to develop and build environmentally friendly, energy-efficient places to live and work.
- Support the Community to engage in commercial revitalization and expansion of economic opportunities including tourism and business growth in a way that capitalizes on its assets.
- Identify both current Community strengths and shortcomings
- Encourage transportation planning that is sensitive to both the natural environment and neighborhoods.
- Reduce electrical consumption within the facilities of the Community.
- Use up-to-date storm water management techniques and facilities to filter out impurities and reduce water pollution.
- Maintain the integrity, heritage and local character of the community’s natural and built environment.
- Use sustainable landscaping practices when possible in public spaces through the use of recycled, biodegradable materials and native or other water conserving plants.
- Institute new programs in the area of business recruitment that result in the creation of green businesses and jobs.
- Facilitate the Community in maintaining and improving housing diversity so that work force and other affordable housing for commercial/retail establishment workers will be available.
- Assist the Community to improve/expand its arts community/recreational facilities and opportunities.
- Manage growth and urban sprawl to balance agricultural issues and land preservation with planned urban development to protect and enhance both the region’s rural/urban character and its natural resources.
- Preserve and manage all of the Community’s natural resources, including but not limited to air, water, green spaces, natural areas and farmlands, through sustainable land use practices.
- Determine how we can better work both independently and interdependently as a community.
- Assist leaders to better coordinate community governing activities, financing activities and the organizational capacity of the current entities.
- Reduce non-sustainable practices in local government facilities and encourage use of reusable materials and products.
- Ensure that everyone in the community shares in its well-being
- Create a sense of “ownership” by involving as many people and organizations as possible
- Identify all resources, not just financial, needed to manage future challenges and opportunities
- Promote program development that enhances existing programs in the areas of climate protection, green building and green business recognition.
- Facilitate green purchasing and material exchange partnerships and other programs to sustain new and existing businesses.
- Establish benchmarks of measurability for these sustainable practices.
One means of obtaining more in-depth information about exactly what the needs and problems are in a community, is to conduct a needs assessment or some other kind of survey. A good survey can supplement your own sharp-eyed observations and experiences. It can give you detailed information from a larger and more representative group of people than you could get from observation alone. The survey type of assessment can often provide a more honest and objective description of needs than people might tell you publicly. It might also make you aware of possible needs that you never saw as particularly important or that you never even knew existed.
Once you obtain a better picture of a community’s potential problems and needs from an assessment survey or other kind of community-wide inquiry the analysis of those problems by the community will be much more promising. You will obtain more group and community support for the actions you will soon undertake because if people have participated in stating a need for a particular course of action, they are more likely to support it. Additionally, this will get more people actually involved in the subsequent step of problem analysis.
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