Introduction

Introduction

Sustainable Communities are consciously designed, nurturing, people-friendly environments, many of which have been in existence around the world for decades. They were born out of the wave of optimism and creativity that swept the world in the 1960s, when many people began to experience themselves as wholesome, creative beings, and began thinking in benevolent, synergistic, wholistic ways.

Applying wholistic thinking to solve real-life issues opened many doors to creative possibilities for improved living, never before envisaged. This unleashed a revolution in creative thinking about better ways of living, working, relating and being, that would support high levels of enjoyment, psychological health, sustainability, and with minimal effort and expense, leading to the creation of urban community households and neighbourhoods, and self-sufficient rural communes. Eventually the understanding gleaned from these pioneering experiments evolved into the creation of professionally designed, sustainable communities as nurturing, optimal living environments, particularly suitable for family life and raising children.

A major factor incorporated into sustainable communities is the healing and regenerative powers of nature. Nature, it was realised, creates constantly improving living environments, by transforming waste and recycling it as food for other participants in the system. Benefits of nature form the basis of the sustainability component of sustainable communities. The other major factor is the inherent creative, nurturing and benevolent nature of people that emerges when they are living in caring, nourishing, low-stress environments. This forms the community component of sustainable communities.

Bringing together the regenerative creativity of nature and the nurturing benevolence of reintegrated human nature enables highly creative bio-friendly, eco-friendly, human-friendly designs, as well as highly innovative solutions to the many problems now considered unsolvable by the more linear, mechanical type of practices of mainstream society today. By incorporating natural, eco-friendly and bio-friendly methods for self-renewing, sustainable living, sustainable communities have been able to overcome problems of unhealthy foods, pollution, ecological degradation, exploitation and impoverishment, and over decades have offered community members unabated interest, excitement, satisfaction, security and fulfilment. Many sustainable communities regard themselves as living examples of being part of the solution to our planetary ills, in a world that continues to create problems that it cannot solve.

Sustainable communities are created to be places to live and enjoy life. This means that the quality of relationships between all community members is important to the well functioning of the community. In order to work well, communities are founded upon trust, goodwill, cooperation, honesty etc, so that an uplifting social environment is created. People spend time improving their general living situation and their lives, by growing their own food, and doing many empowering things for themselves and each other. This makes living in communities much cheaper, so people do not need to do so much paid work, and can spend more time in creative pursuits, spending time with family and friends, developing their home, growing food, doing community projects, and in general, creating a life. Life in sustainable communities is a process of constantly improving relationships in ever enriching living environments. For those who have no paid work, life can be meaningful, enriching, liberating, exhilarating, abundant, fulfilling and very busy.

Wholistic, life-affirming, sustainable solutions can be applied at individual, family, neighbourhood and community levels, in city, urban, rural and remote settings. This makes them particularly appropriate for low-income earners, rural and remote dwellers, Aboriginal groups, and the disadvantaged, destitute and disenfranchised, including the unemployed, street people and those considered at risk. By embracing proven wholistic sustainable practices, any group of committed people can now create for themselves harmonious, well managed, healthy, highly active communities and community households. Places where living is exhilarating, where impoverishment, crime, substance abuse, violence, and chronic diseases are all relegated to the past, and where people can expect to live longer, enjoying vigorous, robust health throughout their entire lives.

Today, we live with ever increasing social deterioration, ecological destruction, increasing personal and family indebtedness, an aging population that has not been replacing itself, apart from the indigenous population, and vastly increased impoverishment of the lower socio-economic strata. All of this, plus the possibility of drought becoming normal and water being always scarce, has meant that the relevance and pressing necessity of sustainable living is at last starting to become considered, appreciated, and even embraced within mainstream society. Sustainability issues were a significant issue the recent federal election, and had a bearing on the outcome. It represents a focus on the future.

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