Sustainability begins from our communities

What is a community?  A group of people who share a place of living or have some features in common, and a condition of sharing or with attitudes and interest in common. Therefore pretty much any place or situation that gathers together more than 2 humans can be defined as a community? More or less yes, although it is necessary for a community to be fully operational as such to be aware that they are a community, therefore shared interests, goals, features and attitudes. Meaning that the first step to be made is to make sure that the community acknowledges and recognizes itself as a community. Then and then only we can start to intervene in our communities of belonging to implement sustainable development practice, that first of all impact the attitude of the community members towards sustainability, which means more cohesion within the community, increasing safety, preserving resources, waste reduction and foster the quality of life through sustainable economic practice, safeguarding the human and natural ecosystem, enhancing culture and foster a sense of belongingness and togetherness.

The great thing is that this can be applied to any community, can be from a street to a town, from the workplace to a school classroom or group of friends. Because the sustainable development goals aim exactly at creating systems that connect individuals into communities for the purpose of present and future wellbeing and its three aspects, social, economical and environmental. Because, when we look at the very core of the word sustainability, its deeper and simpler meaning is Something that Lasts and Endures, a sustainable community is a lasting community projected into the future, and are those communities which look out for their own benefit, that is connected and entwined with that of the ecosystem, the quality of life, economy, and social dynamics, for the wellbeing of present and future generations. 

If you think about it, this is not something new, we have been doing it since always, just think of the first human settlements and their criteria for choosing where to build their homes, good land, access to water, ore and minerals, defendable, etc. Because the purpose was to find a place where those humans and their offspring and descendants could thrive, prosper and be safe. Regardless of today’s increased communication and transport technology, the need is still there, although, due to the successes of our ancestors we begun to forget the importance of community and community needs. One may even go as far as stating that most communities are completely unaware that they are communities. 

Some blame today the preventive measures used by governments to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic virus as the culprit for destroying in many people their sense of belonging to communities, creating isolated individuals, islands in an archipelago of distant humanity. However, one can ask, does it really take just a few months to shatter into pieces a sense of community and belongingness, or was that sense already “ill” prior to the pandemic outbreak? Perhaps belongingness, and the sense of shared characteristics, values and resources that are already suffering, menaced by overblown individualism and instant gratification marked by the here and now, at the expense of the then and after, resulting in shallow community sense crumbling like a house of cards. 

To this end there is an overall need of rebuilding not communities per se, rather a sense of community, by promoting and fostering the understanding of what are the shared elements that make that group of humans a community, and what resources they need to thrive, economically, politically, socially, what is the shared understanding of the quality of life, and how can the community think and act so that they can gain a good quality of life, and make sure that their offspring and descendants will be able to enjoy it as well, enacting sustainable practices. These sustainable practices we talk about are made out of ecological goals, identifying elements, actions and plans that are beneficial for the community, for its individual members, for the human and natural ecosystem, and that have a positive impact on all in the short, medium and long term. 

Just Keep in mind, always, that we already are members of so many human communities, although most probably we mostly are unaware of that, at least until now, what we need is to acknowledge that and start acting. 

Published by Lorenzo Nava

Consultant, Trainer and Coach, on participatory learning processes, experiential learning dynamics, non formal education and NLP certified practitioner

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