Introduction

Introduction

Sustainable Communities are consciously designed, nurturing, life-affirming 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 integrated 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 without paid work, life can still be meaningful, enriching, abundant, affordable, 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, 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. Where living is exhilarating, and impoverishment, crime, substance abuse, violence, and chronic diseases are all relegated to the past. Where people can expect to live longer, whilst enjoying vigorous, robust health throughout their entire lives.

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Modern, successful sustainable communities were envisaged, invented, experimented with, fine tuned and fully developed during the same decades that many highly successful and bountiful Aboriginal missions were being transformed into under-financed and under-serviced, chronically impoverished remote settlements. This downgrading has been a steady decline, that severely worsened in the last decade, becoming dire, and today many of these settlements are lacking in reasonable housing, decent water, an adequate diet, or employment opportunities, and are consequentially suffering myriad problems, involving every aspect of their lives. It represents yet another sorrowful chapter in the punishing plight of remote Aboriginal Australia.

The greatest tragedy is that none of this needed to have happened. The knowledge to turn these post-mission settlements into thriving sustainable communities, as havens of healing, nurturing and upliftment, and offering a sensible, wholesome, interesting, viable lifestyle, has been understood and practiced since before CDEP first came into existence in 1977. CDEP could have always been utilised in real community creation, for which it was originally designed, in combination with advanced understandings of sustainable community living, to create highly viable remote Aboriginal communities. With new thinking from a committed new Government, it can still be possible.

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