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Community Planning and Development
Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices. Ed. Debra Rowe. Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2014. p137-145.
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Community Planning and Development

A community is a group of people rooted in a sense of place through which they are in a reciprocal and trusting relationship with one another and their surroundings. Although we traditionally think of a community as the people in a given geographical location, the word can refer to any group with common interests. The idea of community does not fit into a nice neat package—every community is a little different from the next. Therefore community development will differ depending on each particular community's identity and aspirations. Through planning and development, communities form a vision of what they want to be and together decide how to realize that vision.

A community is a construct, a model. As such, it is not a static place within a static landscape, but rather a lively, self-reinforcing resonance of ever-changing, interactive, interdependent systems of relationships. More important, a community is not simply the people who are currently in it: many communities existed before all their current residents were born, and will continue to exist when all of the people in it now have left. A community maintains a shared identity grounded in its history, which must be passed from one generation to the next if the community is to know itself throughout the passage of time. History, in turn, is a reflection of how community members see themselves and thus bears directly on how they give value to things. A community member's vision of the past is shaped by and in turn shapes his or her understanding of the present.

Flourishing communities are the foundation of a healthy society. On city blocks and streets, in neighborhoods, villages, towns, townships, and cities, individual efforts at community improvement can effect visible change. In local communities all of a nation's complex issues present themselves—housing, jobs, business development, crime, public participation, personal and community values, the relationship between people and the natural environment, and so on. How do communities decide which efforts at change or improvement will reap the richest and most long-lasting rewards for interested stakeholders? In the simplest terms, a stakeholder is one who is involved in or affected by a course of action. A community stakeholder is a person or group with direct or indirect investment and interest in an organization; that organization's actions, objectives, and policies can affect or be affected by the stakeholder. Although stakeholding is usually self-legitimizing (those who judge themselves to be stakeholders are stakeholders), not all stakeholders are considered equal. In effective community development, this situation must be corrected so that all stakeholders feel themselves to be equals.


Planning is a scheme, program, or systematic arrangement of elements worked out beforehand for the process of setting goals and objectives, then developing action strategies, and outlining tasks and schedules to accomplish the goals. Planning is a segue to community development. Historically, the first organized community planning process was, and still is in many places, traditional comprehensive planning. In the United States, land-use planners engage in a process that determines community goals and aspirations through the stakeholder and governmental planner's identification of problems and issues. Williamsburg, Virginia, was one of the first highly successful products of an attempt to create a comprehensive land-use plan in the American colonies (Goodman and Freund 1968). The town was laid out in 1699 under the most detailed piece of town-planning legislation adopted in the colonies up to that point.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, planning was significantly influenced by the work of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903). Through his landscape design and planning work, such as his design for New York City's Central Park, Olmsted sought to advance a feeling of community-mindedness, or a sense of community and dedicated service to that community. For example, in Olmsted's vision, a park that employs a variety of landscape themes and enables a variety of uses lends a sense of calm to city residents. The architects, artists, and designers—among them Olmsted—who worked on the planning of Washington, DC, had adopted the tenets of the City Beautiful Movement (Goodman and Freund 1968). The movement gave rise to what is more commonly referred to today as comprehensive planning and established two enduring aspects of the local comprehensive planning process, the professional consultant and the planning commission.

The comprehensive plan takes an all-inclusive approach to long-term public policy on transportation, utilities, land use, recreation, and housing within a

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Diversity of people, businesses, and societal attitudes.

Diversity of people, businesses, and societal attitudes. (Sandra Baker/Alamy.)

geographical region. To fulfill its intended purpose, a comprehensive plan should be long-range and general, should focus on physical development, should relate physical design proposals to community goals and social and economic policies, and should be primarily a policy instrument and secondarily a technical instrument (Citizens Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality 1976).

Historically, however, this approach to planning has followed an institutional model of service delivery that often fails to identify and integrate local assets into the community development process. This failure occurs for a number of reasons: in the asset-identifying process, external—usually government—funding allows governments to set agendas for localities, thus reducing localized control. Local agencies and professionals thus resist the planning, and marginalized and powerless groups become discouraged from participating. Thus, this process often overlooks resources and assets inside the community that could serve the planning initiative.

The type of conventional planning routinely performed by the town or city planner involves implementing decisions made by community legislators and government agencies, usually in isolation. On occasion the design team presents plans to the community, and input is gathered through various methods such as surveys and public hearings. But in many instances comprehensive planning has lacked significant public dialogue and has failed to encourage discussion by small groups or to obtain their input. The process suffers from lack of transparency on the part of the responsible jurisdiction and the compartmentalizing of major issues. Overall, in conventional planning the strategic integration of issues, not to mention a systems approach, is rare.

Comprehensive plans often carry an undertone of economic development. Thus the comprehensive planning process is followed by strategic planning exercises encompassed in community economic development (CED). CED is action by people within a specific geographic community or group of communities to create local economic opportunities and improve quality of life. Such action often includes the recruitment of a “big box” store or manufacturing business that will presumably bring many new jobs and other economic spin-offs. By using knowledge and resources in the community, CED identifies and capitalizes on local opportunities to stimulate economic growth and employment. In most instances, as with comprehensive planning, CED is done in isolation from other factors connected to the realities of economic development, such as the social-environmental criteria needed to support sustainable economic design.

Beyond CED lies the more effective process of strategic planning. A strategic plan is a way to ensure that a community's vision is realized. It describes the actions a community will take to meet its objectives while remaining mindful of the effects on nature and surrounding areas. When appropriately implemented, strategic planning offers guidance, encourages collaboration, and engages in integrative action. A well-designed strategic plan will allow a large number of people to think and act in a structured way about the future of their community (see the sidebar ).


Of the several facets reflected in the term development, the planning profession in the United States has focused on a very narrow one: development as material growth through centralized industrialization and distributed communication. Development is thus equated with social progress and economic health. But there are other understandings of community development: some view it as pertaining to development in the community, while others view it as development of the community. There is a big difference.

Development in the community, like activities associated with CED, suggests that the major interest is attracting new businesses, new facilities, or new services to the community—in other words, making every effort to add to physical, service, and economic infrastructure. This is sometimes referred to as the brick-and-mortar approach to community development. Development of the community, rather than focusing on physical, service, and economic infrastructure, at least at the outset, seeks to uncover and expand the knowledge and skills of people in the community. The belief is that community-wide Page 139  |  Top of Articleimprovements (whether physical, service, or economic infrastructure) cannot be fully realized unless people representing all parts of the community are involved. Thus the emphasis is on finding the talents that exist in the community and locating people with the potential for leadership (Summers 1986). Building on the skills that people already have has proven the best foundation for dealing with the variety of community concerns. As such, asset mapping is an essential step in the development of the community.

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After significant impacts from two hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, Dauphin Island, Alabama (on the Gulf of Mexico coastline), decided as a community that it was going to take charge of its own destiny and rehabilitate its infrastructure and economy to support and secure a resilient and sustainable future. Island community members decided in 2007 to mount a strategic planning process that would draw together all interested stakeholders eager to broaden their collective wisdom and evaluate best strategies for ensuring economic viability and social integrity through means that were environmentally responsible. The town hired a consultant team to lead them in this effort and the resulting project design guided people to visualize how sustainability provides a multidimensional way of achieving multifaceted goals and improve quality of life for all community members.

One of the early circumstances town residents realized was that in attempts to be sustainable, strategies for action that might be developed showed a tight connection between resilience, diversity, and long-lasting stability of social-ecological systems. Community stakeholders held this view throughout their work. With the support of such a sustainability philosophy, community dialogue and planning produced several recommendations and rationale for action strategies the communities could implement over the short- and long-term:

  1. decreasing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs);
  2. promoting sound economic strategies;
  3. encouraging strategies of low-impact development (LID);
  4. identifying additional conservation-based development strategies;
  5. defining steps to preserve the community's historic culture; and
  6. developing other socioeconomic tactics that could address community core values (Flint 2010).

Over a ten-month project period, the community initiated, drove, and concluded the development of a strategic sustainability plan for its town through a process that was transparent and all-inclusive. In the presence of extensive consensus building and policy discussion, stakeholders moved Dauphin Island toward a more sustainable community with a resilient future. A “spiraling capital assets” model (Flint 2010) was employed to define points of decline and potential strategic improvement milestones. Implementation of strategic actions resulting from this community-based sustainability planning process that were recommended focused upon shifting the tax base from reliance on expensive rental home lodging and property taxes to growing a more diverse, small business community emphasizing cultural heritage. The outcome of the planning processes illustrated how stakeholders “examined all their community assets to determine leverage points for reversing rural economic leakage patterns and promoting new local forms of value-added economic development that protected environmental resources” (Flint 2010).

The process of valuation embodied in development must address social-environmental justice in recognizing the necessity of nondiscriminatory access to resources, including fair distribution of goods and services, while simultaneously protecting the long-term, natural, biophysical infrastructure of the system that produces them for all generations (Maser 1997). But when development is coupled with economic growth (as in “we must grow the economy” or “the economy isn't growing fast enough”), the political specter of special interests arises in the form of those who choose to equate development with growth, thereby persuading society of the continual need for more consumerism in order to achieve prosperous lifestyles at the expense of human connections with nature (Daly 1992).

Building a Sustainable View of Development

Understanding the difference between growth (a conventional economic goal) and development (a sustainable economic goal) is essential. Both the conventional and the more contemporary view of economics are concerned with the question of utility (the worth or fitness of something toward a desired end). The conventional paradigm tends to emphasize quantitative growth, with the assumption that more is better. The sustainability paradigm, on the other hand, emphasizes well-being, and looks for qualitative development to achieve health, happiness, and satisfaction of needs, not wants. The contrast is nowhere clearer than in society's approach to global economic issues. Consider the reliance on gross domestic product (GDP) as an economic indicator. A rise in GDP for a given nation is considered good news, yet Page 140  |  Top of ArticleGDP, which represents the market value of all goods and services that a nation produces in a given period, does not differentiate among “gains”: GDP can rise as a result of spending on such positive things as new schools or improved roads or on such negative things as crime, illness, or pollution.

Development cannot be equated with growth because growth implies a quantitative increase, and growth will always face limits (Daly 1992). Even in hard times, political leaders, from the national down to the local level, continue to call for growth in consumer terms. In a consumer culture, commercial advertising contributes to the emphasis on growth by stimulating dissatisfaction with the present and creating demand for whatever is bigger and supposedly better. Politicians often call for continued economic growth in the form of more jobs and increased money flow to meet expanding consumer needs. But the call for growth fails to take into account the limitations on resources. Sustainable growth is in fact impossible, because growth will inevitably hit physical limits, such as in the reserves of fossil fuels. When growth results in depleted resources, the gap widens between the haves and have-nots (Callenbach 2011).

Development considers economic growth within a broader framework of community and environmental well-being (Daly 1996). Sustainable development can be represented as a mode of improvement that preserves natural capital—enhancement in welfare without physical growth, progressive social betterment without growing beyond ecological carrying capacity (Daly 1996). People can thus concentrate not on acquiring more but on developing their full potential.

Of course, sometimes more is better, and sustainable development recognizes this. Having more food is better for someone who is hungry; however, the sustainability paradigm would consider not only quantity of calories or food but also the quality of nutrition, as well as broader impacts on the individual, environment, community, and economy.

Communities themselves are responsible for choosing what is important to protect and maintain within their own time frames, uninhibited by a definition of sustainability established elsewhere. A sustainable community is one that lives within the self-perpetuating limits of its environment. Living sustainably is maintaining the important mix of options and opportunities without creating unnecessary limitations (Flint 2006). Such conscious living ensures that our decisions and actions will prevent resources from falling below the threshold required, perpetuating them through time and thus not compromising the quality of life for future generations (Gibson 2006). The most desirable community is not a “no growth” society but rather a community that recognizes the limits of growth and looks for alternative means of improvement.

Strategic Planning for Sustainable Community Development

Strategies that the environment can sustain and that citizens want and can afford will vary from community to community. Moreover, strategic planning for a sustainable community is continually adjusting to meet the social and economic needs of its residents while preserving the environment's ability to maintain them. The strategic sustainability planning process is supported by the three Cs of sustainability: connections, choices, and consequences. The main principle of any planning process is to understand the many connections between capital assets and human-nature interactions so that choices made do not produce unintended consequences. Sustainable economic development must be both environmentally sound and shared fairly among all members of the community. Members of a strategically planned sustainable community realize that long-term economic viability not only relies on scientific and technical information to guide the planning process but also must be supported by moral and ethical concerns and decisions.

Strategic planning for sustainable community development (SCD) has emerged as a compelling alternative to conventional approaches to development: a participatory, holistic, and inclusive planning process that leads to positive, concrete changes in communities by creating employment, reducing poverty, restoring the health of the natural environment, stabilizing local economies, and increasing community control. SCD has three main components: economic, social, and environmental. The economic component involves the sustainable management of human, material, and financial resources to meet the material needs of as many people as possible. A project is economically sustainable if the goods produced or services provided adequately meet the actual needs of the population through the efficient use of the materials, energy, and human resources required to produce them.

The social component involves making sure that opportunities in the present will also be available to future communities for continually improving quality of life. SCD thereby meets the needs of a population in terms of health, education, individual aspirations, and safety, and encourages healthy lifestyles (through physical activity, good nutrition, etc.) and cultural dialogue and sharing (through the arts, religion, traditions, etc.) so as to foster the emergence of a sense of individual

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Community economic development done in isolation from public input often relies on a big box store or industry not considering socio-environmental criteria needed to support sustainable economic design.

Community economic development done in isolation from public input often relies on a big box store or industry not considering socio-environmental criteria needed to support sustainable economic design. (Jurgen Vogt/Alamy.)

freedom and collective responsibility. The social component also involves taking into account demographic trends (age, gender, cultural communities) to ensure a community's balance and longevity. The environmental component involves the maintenance and sustainable use of all natural resources, and the preservation of biological diversity and ecosystems. Meeting the needs of the natural environment implies careful use of natural resources to ensure their sustainability, and committing to sound management of human activity to ensure it does not overtax or pollute the environment.

Strategic planning actions in SCD are best developed by taking a systems approach to understanding, forecasting, and decision making. Only through the use of a sustainability framework (e.g., the Natural Step, three overlapping circles model, Triple Bottom Line) can a community be assured that it is incorporating the concepts of sustainability during its process for systemic strategic planning (Community Tool Box 2011, chap. 1.9, “Community Action Guide: A Framework for Addressing Community Goals and Problems”). In the selection of project objectives as well as during strategic planning exercises, community members should be aware of the chosen sustainability framework.

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The number of international sustainable planning and development initiatives is growing.

Pakistan is a case in point. The country has been hit by a string of natural disasters that included two devastating floods, three cyclones, and an earthquake since 1999. These major climatic impacts coupled with an economic growth slump to 2.6 percent, as well as inefficiencies in the agriculture, energy, and water sectors, has resulted in major stresses on the country's natural resources. High population growth, weak enforcement of environmental regulations, rapid urbanization, and rising numbers of internally displaced persons are among other challenges. To act in overcoming these many challenges, Pakistan has developed a new national sustainable development strategy (NSDS). The strategy defines a “green action agenda” that will be supported by the establishment of a knowledge management system Page 142  |  Top of Articlebased upon science, technology and innovation. Leaders of this process anticipate that the strategy will help direct the country toward more sustainable economic development. The NSDS envisions knowledge management systems that support key economic, environmental and social goals through academic research and foster solution-driven innovation for policy, information gathering, and technology development. Because the majority of Pakistan's landmass is susceptible to random and extreme climatic events, leaders also recognize that adaptive management of resources will be required. “There is an inescapable linkage between climate impacts and sustaining future development in the country,” the strategy document notes (SciDev.Net 2012). Therefore, the country considers as its chief climate-change goals:

  • disaster risk reduction and management;
  • vulnerability mapping;
  • community-based adaptation; and
  • sustainable land management and building climate resilient infrastructure.

Costa Rica

A watershed sustainability initiative was developed for the Reventazón River watershed in Costa Rica in 2009. As the second largest river in Costa Rica, the Reventazón River and its surrounding land plays an important economic and agricultural role for the more than 400,000 inhabitants that live within the boundaries of this watershed. The watershed provides a source of drinking water, irrigation for growing crops, and for a way to make money from fishing and other resource extractive activities for the people living there. For example, the river and its watershed provide 38 percent of the nation's hydroelectricity and a quarter of the drinking water for the capital, San Jose. “A Commission for the Preservation and Management of the Watershed (COMCURE) was set up and employed the HELP index, developed by UNESCO, which was further consolidated into one single variable called the Watershed Sustainability Index (WSI), to assess the River's sustainability issues” (Catano, Marchand, Staley, and Wang 2009). The WSI was established to follow the changes related to policies implemented in the watershed for intended improvements in its physical structure along with related responses from socioeconomic sectors. It takes into account “cause-effect” relationships over a given period as part of the watershed's sustainability status. Scientists employing the WSI through their calculation of variable values and indicator measures enacted the strategy of prioritizing their investigation into basin variables that had the lowest scores measure by the indicators because these needed the most improvement. The major variables investigated included:

  • the Life indicator;
  • the Hydrology Quality Response parameter;
  • the Hydrology Quantity Pressure parameter; and
  • the Environment Pressure parameter.

Based on the calculation process, it was recommended that COMCURE conduct the following activities to improve the scores of the WSI results:

  1. Add more sewage treatment and disposal systems to urban and rural wastewater sources, especially to agricultural areas, to work towards reducing agrochemical contamination.
  2. Continue its effort with local farmers to develop sustainable farming projects in the basin area, and implement this effort in the WSI as a new parameter averaged with the EPI to create a new Environment Pressure parameter, to encourage sustainable farming. (Catano, Marchand, Staley, and Wang 2009)

Identity of Community Problems

Community planning and development are processes that seek to offer sustainable solutions or strategies for problems in the community. Careful analysis of problems and their causes is necessary to assess which problems are top priorities. That analysis looks at a problem's frequency, duration, scope (how many people does it affect?), and severity (how disturbing is it and how disruptive of personal or community life, and does it miss important opportunities for asset use or deprive people of legal or moral rights? and so on), as well as perceptions of it within the community. Community perception is perhaps the most important criterion. If people perceive the streets as unsafe, that is a problem regardless of what crime statistics say. If people think that the schools are bad, that is a problem no matter what statistics are presented to the contrary. A problem need not be based on hard evidence—it can be a psychological fact (Community Tool Box 2011, chap. 17.3, “Defining and Analyzing the Problem”).

As an example of a community problem, say kids tend to gather on a particular street. Sometimes they drink alcohol there and get rowdy. Is the nature of the problem the underage drinking and noise disturbance to nearby residents? Or could it be the fact that kids have nowhere else to go and few if any other activities to engage in? Rather than seek tougher law enforcement, should the community try to supply a safe gathering place for teens, such as a community center? A careful Page 143  |  Top of Articleanalysis of a problem can put one on a better course toward finding a remedy for it. Stakeholders need to set realistic objectives toward achieving goals by designing a process for identifying and understanding the variables of a given problem (Community Tool Box 2011, chap. 17.1, “An Introduction to the Problem Solving Process”). In the planning process, community members must seek the root cause of a problem rather than focusing on symptoms. Community morale suffers when obstacles arise because of misunderstood causes of problems.

Common Goals as the Basis of an Action Plan

The sustainable community development process should be characterized by flexibility; ecological, economic, and sociocultural diversity; respect for other people's dignity; consideration of unintended consequences (change is the norm, not the exception); and notions of sufficiency and reversibility. SCD should acknowledge the standards and responsibilities established for a sustainable society by the work of the Brundtland Commission and yet recognize the shortcomings of and challenges to its definition of sustainable development. All engaged in planning should agree on a set of fundamental truths that speak to the need for sustainability and encourage the search for alternative lifestyles. Developing a sustainability mindset promotes solidarity on the interdependent nature of sustainability and helps communities to realign perceptions of socioeconomic and ecological systems with community values.

Community-based deliberations freed of ideology and preconceived notions can cut through most fact-value dichotomies (Norton 2005). Mission-oriented scientists, policy makers, and the public contribute to SCD when they are fully engaged in a form of “citizen science” that connects the expert's way of knowing with the layperson's way of knowing. Establishing the values important to a particular community through their own dialogue and struggle for agreement builds solidarity around, as Bryan G. Norton (2005) suggests, a “schematic” definition of sustainability; this definition can be expanded into specifics by communities that choose their own actions and indicators based on their particular core values.

Before commencing on an SCD process, community members must understand the problem at hand and its causes, as well as the community's human assets. The SCD process itself entails:

  • Convening stakeholders;
  • Creating a vision of the community influenced by core values;
  • Establishing goals;
  • Employing the emerging field of sustainability science to identify assets and challenges and set targets for community improvement;
  • Developing objectives and actions under each goal to improve sustainability with assistance from a selected sustainability framework for guidance;
  • Developing a business case for pursuing sustainability;
  • Identifying and selecting improvement projects that meet the chosen sustainability framework criteria for assessing a project;
  • Designing a strategy for assessing community change and indicators to monitor change (again based on sustainability science);
  • Employing an adaptive management approach to implement change that engages in learning by experience, thus refining/revising strategic actions to achieve the intended outcome defined by the vision; and
  • Communicating to community members and encouraging participation in the overall effort.

If they hope to make integrated improvements toward a more healthy community, community members must search for solutions across the spectrum of economic development, societal well-being, and environmental quality. Developing an action plan is a critical step toward ensuring SCD project success (Community Tool Box 2011, chap. 2.1, “Developing a Logic Model or Theory of Change”). The action plan entails community assessment; setting visions and goals; and defining strategic actions. A strategic sustainability plan, the outcome of implementing an action plan, defines the tasks and timeline for achieving the goal of becoming a more resilient and sustainable community.

Whereas traditional development processes might begin with an assessment of what is lacking in a community—in other words, the community's problems—asset mapping flips this around to identify and capitalize on the tangible and intangible strengths that already exist—the capabilities of local residents, associations, and institutions. Likewise, a necessary factor for SCD success is getting a critical mass of the population from the target community to engage and participate in community improvement planning and action plan implementation. Public support is crucial, because it lends credibility to a project initiative, helps to attract further support, provides strength to apply or resist political pressure, blocks passive sabotage, and creates community ownership of and responsibility for measures to deal with the issues of concern.

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Communities that have the ways and means to undertake challenges demonstrate capacity. Without capacity, communities are merely collections of individuals. Capacity building encourages all stakeholders to become the best they can be, as individuals and communities. The priority should be to engage community members in learning about and understanding community problems, and the economic, social, environmental, political, psychological, and other impacts associated with alternative courses of action. A fundamental goal of community capacity building is to increase the ability of individuals to make policy choices and select modes of implementation among development options, based on an understanding of environmental potentials and limits of perceived needs. In this vein, a community must also select a guiding sustainability framework that they will continuously apply in deciding on plan objectives and strategic actions.

After asset assessment, the next step in SCD is to review main strengths and problems compiled from the different survey tools that might be employed in the community. These should be analyzed in the context of the chosen sustainability framework. One of the unfortunate by-products of initiating a needs assessment or problem identification process is the implication that the community has many shortcomings. Thus it is best to keep the dialogue among community members positive. A positive, meaningful vision of the future, enumerating the ideal conditions for the community and supported by compelling goals, provides purpose and direction in implementing SCD. A vision is like a lighthouse, illuminating the path rather than the destination. Developing a vision statement also helps to make the participating community members' governing principles clear to the greater community.

In the SCD process it is extremely important to set goals that focus on the community's strengths. Community participants can reinforce their development of goal statements by establishing a target date for fulfillment and picturing what the state of a given asset or resource would be on that date. Building on their shared vision and goals, the community can establish the foundation for guiding strategic actions. The community must design a process for identifying and understanding the variables at work in a particular problem and the influence they exert (Community Tool Box 2011, chap. 17.1, “An Introduction to the Problem Solving Process”).

Once the community stakeholders have evaluated their plan using the SWOT analysis (strengths, weakness, opportunities, threats), they can commence on their strategic action plan, always keeping in mind the three Cs of sustainability (connections, choices, and consequences). The overall goal of strategic planning is to increase a community's ability to work together to achieve their goals while trying to minimize the number of unintended consequences that might result.

Creating project metrics or monitoring tools is the last step in the action plan. Communities come together to reduce levels of violence, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to work for safe, affordable housing, or to help improve the water quality in their local ecosystems. But how do they know how well—or whether—these programs are working? How can community leaders make informed choices about which promising programs are working best in their community over the long term? Communities must choose reliable indicators to monitor progress. If the indicator shows undesirable trends, it will require system diagnosis. Such diagnosis is a key element in adaptive management processes that can be designed to direct the use of resources within a sustainable framework, to help understand what the system conditions are, and to alert managers when indicators tell the community leaders something is wrong.

“Communities of change,” a planning process that has evolved from experiences in sustainable community development in the twenty-first century, employs archetypal practices for establishing community wisdom and capacity. The process also enhances evolutionary sustainability (Community Tool Box 2011, chap. 2.1, “Developing a Logic Model or Theory of Change”). The outcome of this process is not a report that will sit on a shelf, but rather a guide for policies and procedures to effect change in the target community over both the short and long term. Communities of all types and sizes, in all areas, can realize great benefits from the implementation of sustainable community development.


Callenbach, Ernest. 2011. “Sustainable Shrinkage: Envisioning a Smaller, Stronger Economy.” Solutions 2 (4): 10–15. Available from

Catano, Nick; Mark Marchand; Simone Staley; and Yao Wang. 2009. “Development and Validation of the Watershed Sustainability Index (WSI) for the Watershed of the Reventazón River.” Costa Rica: Commission for the Preservation and Management of the Watershed of the Reventazón River (COMCURE). Accessed July 17, 2013. Available from Page 145  |  Top of ArticleCitizens Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality. 1976. “How Will America Grow? A Citizen Guide to Land-Use Planning.” Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.

Community Tool Box. 2011. A project of the Work Group for Community Health and Development, University of Kansas, Lawrence. Available from See chap. 1.9, “Community Action Guide: A Framework for Addressing Community Goals and Problems”; 2.1, “Developing a Logic Model or Theory of Change”; 8.2, “Proclaiming Your Dream: Developing Vision and Mission Statements”; 17.1, “An Introduction to the Problem Solving Process”; 17.3, “Defining and Analyzing the Problem”; 17.4, “Analyzing Root Causes of Problems: The ‘But Why?’ Technique”; 17.6, “Generating and Choosing Solutions.”

Daly, Herman E. 1992. “Allocation, Distribution, and Scale: Toward an Economics that Is Efficient, Just, and Sustainable.” Ecological Economics 6 (3): 185–194.

Daly, Herman E. 1996. Beyond Growth. Boston: Beacon Press.

Flint, R. Warren. 2006. “Water Resource Sustainable Management: Thinking Like a Watershed.” Annals of Arid Zone 45 (3–4): 399–423.

Flint, R. Warren. 2010. “Seeking Resiliency in the Development of Sustainable Communities.” Research in Human Ecology 17 (10): 44–57. Available from

Gibson, Robert B. 2006. “Beyond the Pillars: Sustainability Assessment as a Framework for Effective Integration of Social, Economic and Ecological Considerations in Significant Decision-Making.” Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management 8 (3): 259–280.

Goodman, William I., and Eric C. Freund, eds. 1968. Principles and Practices of Urban Planning. Chicago: International City Managers Association.

Maser, Chris. 1997. Sustainable Community Development: Principles and Concepts. Delray Beach, FL: CRC Press.

Norton, Bryan G. 2005. Sustainability: A Philosophy of Adaptive Ecosystem Management. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

SciDev.Net . 2012. “Pakistan Unveils Sustainable Development Strategy.” March 7. Accessed July 17, 2013. Available from

Summers, Gene F. 1986. “Rural Community Development.” Annual Review of Sociology 12: 341–371.

World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford, UK, and New York: Oxford University Press.

R. Warren Flint
Five E's Unlimited
Napa, CA

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition) 
Flint, R. Warren. "Community Planning and Development." Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices, edited by Debra Rowe, vol. 1, Macmillan Reference USA, 2014, pp. 137-145. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 24 Jan. 2019.

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3709800032

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  • Capacity building, community development
    • 1: 144
  • Communities, defined
    • 1: 137
  • Communities of change planning process
    • 1: 143-144
  • Community economic development (CED)
    • 1: 138
  • Community planning and development
    • 1: 137-145
    • 1: 138
    • 1: 141
    • action plans
      • 1: 143-144
    • problem identification
      • 1: 142-143
      • 1: 144
  • Comprehensive planning
    • 1: 137-138
  • Costa Rica
    • sustainable development initiatives
      • 1: 142
  • Dauphin Island, Alabama, sustainable development
    • 1: 139
  • Development
    • defined
      • 1: 138-139
    • growth vs.
  • Economic growth
    • development vs.
  • Economics for sustainability
    • strategic planning
      • 1: 140
  • Environmental component, sustainable development
  • Gross domestic product (GDP)
    • conventional importance
  • Growth vs. development
    • 1: 139-140
  • Norton, Bryan
  • Olmsted, Frederick Law
    • 1: 137
  • Pakistan
    • sustainable development initiatives
      • 1: 141-142
  • Planning
    • history of
      • 1: 137-138
  • Reventazón River watershed (Costa Rica)
    • 1: 142
  • SCD (sustainable community development)
    • 1: 140-142
  • Social aspects of sustainable development
    • 1: 140-141
  • Strategic planning, community development
    • 1: 140-144
  • Sustainable community development (SCD)
    • 1: 140-142
  • Sustainable development
    • growth vs.
      • 1: 139-140
  • SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities, threats) analysis
    • 1: 144