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The Elements
The Human Relationships
The Questions
What Is Meant by Development?
Specialization Versus Generalization
Sustainable Development
At What Scale Is Sustainable Development Possible?

Local Community Development
Local Community and Democracy
Local Community and Economy
The Role of Local Government
Increasing Local Adaptability
Improving Citizen Participation
Information Feedback Loops

Sustainable Community Development as a Big Idea
Change as a Local Creative Process
Think Globally, Act Locally
Controlling the Human Population, A Matter of Gender Equality
Healthy Rivers and Oceans Are a Matter of How We Care for Local Ditches
Cultural Capacity, Carrying Capacity, and Sustainability
Community Within the Context of Landscape
Local Landscape
Beyond the Local Landscape
Global Climate Change
Climate Change and the Migration of Ecosystems
How We Think About Water Catchments
The Storage of Water
Roads and Water
From Wells to the River
Open Space
Communal Space
Surrounding Landscape
The Economics of Sustainability
The Dynamics of Scarcity
The Power of Economics and the Economics of Power
The Economy of Community Is the Economy of Human Dignity and Social/Environmental Sustainability
Educating for Sustainability
Academic Literacy
Environmental Literacy
Economic Literacy
Democratic Literacy
Community Literacy
Rekindling the Spirit of Community


REFERENCES (Return to Top of Page)


"An approach to sustainable development that begins in the American backyard instead of in Africa or Indonesia and poses a refreshing point of view: the most voracious consumers in history must change. Maser challenges preconceptions of sustainable development's meaning, developing the idea of sustainable community as a continual process in which there are no definitive answers, thus demanding that local groups, governments, and leaders must begin to make value choices which can be passed to the next generation. The foundation of the argument lies in 'think globally, act locally,' but the heart is fixed on changing consciousness as the vehicle to a shared societal vision."

© Book News, Inc.
Portland, OR.

"Sustainable Community Development afforded me the pleasure of expanding my knowledge base and critical thinking about the nature of humans, their society, and their future."

Kevin Smith
Manager, Intergovernmental Affairs
Oregon Economic Development Department

"This book is so good and relevant to real life and common community development. I only wish I could own it, but since I'm just a … student, I can't afford paying, otherwise I would like to have my hands on it, not only for my own benefit, but for those communities I intend to serve after my Masters next year."

Reviewer from Cape Town, South Africa

"'Sustainability' and 'sustainable development' are very hot topics these days. Unfortunately many of those who have rallied under the banner of these terms do not have the same notions of what they mean. Hence, this 1997 book by Chris Maser on sustainable community development, published by St. Lucie Press, is a welcome addition to the sustainable development literature, because it early on speaks clearly to define these terms. According to Maser, 'Sustainable development … is a nonlinear process of systems thinking through which the social significance of non-material wealth, qualitative values and the heritage of both cultural diversity and identity can be accounted for in social decision making.' Quite a mouthful, and perhaps too "ethereal." But he goes on to list 10 essential elements of sustainability: '…understanding and accepting … (1) the inviolate physical principles governing Natures dynamics; (2) …that we do not and cannot manage Nature; (3) we make an ecosystem more fragile when we alter it; (4) …we must reinvest in living systems … (5) that only a unified systemic world view is a sustainable world view; (6) accepting our ignorance and trusting our intuition, while doubting our knowledge; (7) specifying what is to be sustained; (8) …sustainability is a continual process, not a fixed end; (9) …being accountable for intergenerational equity; and (10) being accountable for ecological limitations to land ownership and the rights of private property.'

"Each of these 10 points is discussed at some length, moving Maser's approach to sustainable development far beyond the basic notion of integrating environmental, economic, and social objectives. The elaboration on the unified systemic world view is exceptionally thorough, spelling out 11 basic assumptions upon which this view is founded—fleshing out the notion of holism.

"The discussion of 'cultural capacity' is enlightening and thought provoking. Maser defines it as 'a chosen quality of life that is sustainable without endangering the productive capacity of the environment. …a balance between the way we want to live, the real quality of our lifestyle and our community, and the number of people an area can support in that lifestyle on a sustainable basis'. He distinguishes between 'cultural capacity' and 'carrying capacity,' a biological science term for the population that can be supported by using the available environment to its maximum. He purports that carrying capacity incorporates no margin of safety, whereas cultural capacity has such a margin to account for major change in conditions.

"Perhaps the most thought provoking and provocative aspect of the book is its 32-page discussion of economics. Just a short way into this treatise, the author comments, '…the concept of a healthy capitalistic system is one that is ever-growing, ever expanding, but such a system is not biologically sustainable.' Most enlightening is the explanation of the model of an economic system envisioned by Gandhi, who was apparently called 'the people's economist' by E. F. Shumacher, author of Small Is Beautiful.

"The closing pages of the book describe the 'ethical basis of freedom and democracy' which include accepting the value of: '(1) diversity; (2) decentralized power; (3)shared and revolving leadership; (4) continuous self-testing; (5) local, regional, national, and global ethics; (6) acting for future generations; (7) making sure that jobs and economic opportunities for young people [exist]; and (8) practicing the Golden Rule.' Overall, this book is a good read and highly recommended."

Bill Painter
Environmental Protection Agency

"This is a good basic primer for understanding the fundamental principles about sustainable community concepts from an American perspective. It is more scholarly than practical but very useful for someone who needs a basic understanding of some of the key concepts."

Community-Based Environmental Education Planning
University of Wisconsin
College of Agriculture & Life Sciences

"Chris Maser, author of such books as From the Forest to the Sea and Sustainable Forestry, brings us his newest and possibly most important work. Sustainable Community Development, the sequel to his recently published book, Resolving Environmental Conflict, discusses the next step—understanding what sustainable community development actually means.

"Maser presents a clear picture of sustainable community development for what it truly is—a community-directed process of development that is based on human values, active learning, shared communication and cooperation, within a fluid system, void of quick fixes, integrated learning and work, that becomes a shared societal vision both culturally and environmentally.

"Sustainability, in the sense of community development, is the act of one generation saving options by passing them on to the next generation, and so on. This is the main thrust of Maser's book. Readers will see the importance of and the need for shifting personal consciousness from being self-centered to becoming other-centered. This book is perfect for environmentalists, conservationists and those concerned with restoration, concerned business leaders and developers, community and government leaders and policy makers, economists, and academicians."

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Purchase Information:

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