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Community

A Seattle Urban Garden Models What Community Input Should Look Like

More than 20 parks across Seattle support urban gardens developed and managed in partnership with local communities. From small community garden plots to large orchards, the gardens provide fresh, healthy food to community members across the city. Seattle Parks and Recreation, through itsUrban Food Systems Program, provides the land and the infrastructure for these projects. But community members are at the heart of each project, determining what to grow and how to plant and manage their gardens. One such project — the Rainier Community Center’s new urban garden — has received the2024 Toro Urban Park Innovation Award.

Power Plants To Parklands

There are currently more than 200 coal-fired power plants in operation in the United States, but the country has been scaling back since reaching its coal generation peak in 2011. By the end of 2026, the U.S. is projected to have retired half of its coal capacity. Coal plants emit toxic pollutants into the air, water and soil, leaving a legacy of contamination that must be cleaned up after their decommission. But what happens to coal plants after they shut down? Michigan’s Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) sees retiring coal plants — once viewed as industrial scars on the landscape — as “canvases for the creation of new greenways, parklands, wildlife habitat, and clean energy development,” a press release from ELPC said.

Nepal’s Self-Managing Forests And The Duck That Dares To Love

Nepal’s unique approach to community-based conservation means the country’s 118 different ecosystem variants are very much alive. The country boasts more than 950 species of birds, 13,067 species of plants, and 17,097 species of animals, including one-horned rhinos, Bengal tigers, Asiatic elephants, gaurs, and red pandas. Thanks in part to 22,500 forest community user groups, forest cover in Nepal has risen from 25% to 45% since the 1990s, making it one of the few developing countries to expand its forest cover. Nearly 40% of Nepali households are involved in some way. This is supported by the fact that now more than 23% of Nepal’s land is protected by the government.

A Unique Community Land Trust Making Homeownership Affordable

When Michael Haggins’ credit score disqualified him for a mortgage preapproval in 2021, he was crushed. A single father who grew up in Richmond, Haggins dreamed of owning a house in his hometown where his two sons could play freely. A shortage of just five credit score points — plus systemic inequities and a national housing crisis — left them all living with his mother. But today, Haggins is the proud owner of a home in Church Hill, thanks to Richmond’s Maggie Walker Community Land Trust (MWCLT) and its pioneering model for creating permanently affordable housing. “I don’t think I could’ve done it without their help, honestly,” says Haggins.

Chicago Black Church Creating A New Village On The South Side

It will take a village to build a new future for Chicago’s South Side. And building that village is going to take a few decades. But the Black-led church behind the fledgling Imani Village is playing the long game. Anchored in the city’s Pullman neighborhood, Imani Village is a social enterprise owned and operated by the nearby Trinity United Church of Christ. It’s dedicated to empowering the traditionally underserved community and those surrounding it through the creation of an eco-friendly, intergenerational, mixed-use development.

Intentional Community And Capitalism

Capitalism isn’t just an economic system we live inside. It is a culture that lives inside of us. It influences our psychology, how we design our communities, how we relate to each other, the kind of culture we create, and what’s possible for us to do together. Capitalism is one of the most harmful aspects of mainstream society and is deeply entwined with white supremacy, patriarchy, colonialism, and imperialism. Societies, including micro-societies like intentional communities (ICs), are a mixture of structures and culture, and economies are a key aspect with implications for both.

Making Community

If we consider that we as a people could soon face a climate-related collapse of our economic infrastructure, how might we avert this outcome? Or, failing that, be able to continue on while maintaining a civil society? It can be seen that the root of the crisis lies in our behavior, our individual and social behavior – which is a cultural problem. Yet, because each of us lives our lives embedded in our culture, we live and think within the domain we have inherited. If our current ways of thinking are much the basis for our crisis, we must make every effort to think again, and differently.

Why I Never Say ‘Compromise’ When Facilitating

As a consensus facilitator, I am constantly trying to make it easier for everyone to contribute what they have that's relevant to the conversation. Then I do what I can to establish how those contributions are rooted in a reasonable interpretation of group values (and therefore worthy of taking into account), as distinct from personal preferences. About this time, I generally point out that the right to offer one's views and have them be taken seriously is tied at the hip to the responsibility to treat respectfully the views that differ from theirs and have been similarly vetted. Absent this framing, it's relatively common for groups to get bogged down with people who are inspired to defend their viewpoints because they are tied to common values—accusing those with disparate views of being selfish and not thinking of what's best for the group.

Cooperative Ways To Weather The Silver Tsunami

Sierra Allen, 21-year-old barista, had just ended their shift at Baltimore’s Common Ground Cafe on July 2, 2023, when a co-worker texted them the shocking news: Owner Michael Krupp was unceremoniously closing the beloved coffee shop for good and laying off its 30 employees, effective immediately. “It was a moment of shock. I was in a grocery store, and I burst into tears, because no one knew what was going on.” Allen was devastated by the news that they were losing a job that provided stable employment and a supportive community. The layoffs left them struggling financially—to get unemployment and to keep up with mounting bills.

Thoughts On Cultural Appropriation

One conclusion that I can draw from this all this is that my goal of building a strong, localized, place-based community is not just economically intelligent, nor even an ecological necessity — it is the only path to a just system that will not allow for rubbishy things like holidays for colonizers and cultural theft. Living local is a moral imperative. I know many people don’t like that word. Morals are quite passé because we moderns are loathe to admit that we live in community with others — whether we want to or not — and morals are the limits we impose on the self so that we do not harm our communities.

The Beauty, Challenges, And Potential Of Living In Ecocommunity

In 2007, while studying sustainable communities for a chapter on the subject for State of the World 2008, I had the chance to visit several ecovillages. But none stood out like the Los Angeles Eco-Village. Surrounded by car-centric city sprawl, it was a tiny little oasis of green—literally and figuratively, with it being populated by many environmental activists. It was inspiring to meet them and learn about their efforts, and I daydreamed about what would happen if there was a little urban ecovillage in every city incubating citywide change, catalyzing human-centric infrastructure changes, teaching permaculture techniques, and so on.

We Did Not Evolve To Be Selfish; We Can Choose How Our Cultures Evolve

Ours is a critical time in the cultural evolution of humanity that is likely to shape our long-term future, or lack thereof. As a species, we have been on a self-destructive trajectory that has led us to our current polycrisis of unlivable economic conditions, worsening climate disasters, and the potential of an unspeakably devastating war, as the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2023 puts it. The changes we all need to make, if we want subsequent generations to enjoy life, will most likely require big shifts toward improving connections with each other and the planet, and away from extraction and individualism.

Activating The Unrealised Potential Of Care Networks

Most care services use a ‘Deliveroo’ service model: Individual care workers deliver care as if it were a package to another individual's home. These care workers have no connection to that person's wider support network, their neighbourhood or community. They also have no freedom or control over their day-to-day work. This amounts to a service that provides care independently from the support networks embedded in people’s local communities; any collaboration with these support networks in service delivery is generally incidental to a services organisation rather than a direct consequence of it. This is OK if you really are delivering a package, as all you need is a postcode; it is not OK when you are providing care.

Housing Can Help Cultivate Connections

Oakland, California - Shortly after the opening of Tassafaronga Village, a renewed 7.5-acre community in East Oakland, the Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project put down roots in the adjacent park. Founder Kelly Carlisle had been looking for a place to start a community farm and was inspired by the bright new neighborhood. After returning to East Oakland, where she’d spent some of her youth, as an adult, she was on the lookout for a place to make a local impact and seized on the opportunity presented by the new housing. Her nonprofit farm project – named after the Latin phrase for “actions, not words” – set out to invest in youth through urban agriculture, creating a secure and creative outdoor space for East Oakland’s youth and families.

The Neighborhood’s Communication Department

Minneapolis, MN — “We’re trying to be the neighborhood’s communication department,” said Duaba, Confluence Studio’s co-founder, while standing inside a shipping container-turned print shop in South Minneapolis. “We worked with neighbors,” said Confluence’s other co-founder Sam, “to collaboratively construct this idea of what a newsroom for neighbors could be.” The container was initially gifted to Confluence Studio a few years ago. Duaba and Sam, who already had a print shop, worked with the community to build the Autonomous Mobile Media Unit, or the AMMU, inside the container.
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