The Three E’s Revisited: How Do Community-Based Organizations Define Sustainable Communities and Their Role in Pursuit of?
Reames, Tony G.
Wright, Nathaniel S. (TTU)
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A sustainable community seeks to protect and enhance the environment, meet social needs, and promote economic success. On average, local governments lack meaningfully connecting their environmental and economic sustainability efforts to equity and social justice. Community-based organizations (CBOs) have emerged as local leaders with a growing capacity for pursuing community sustainability. Based on data from a national survey National Community Action Partnership member organizations, this study explores (1) how CBO leaders define sustainable communities; (2) how important each of the three pillars of sustainability are to their mission; and (3) with what organizations do CBOs collaborate in their pursuit of sustainable communities. A content analysis of responses to an open-ended query to define sustainable communities revealed a significant focus on the social equity pillar of sustainability which is closely linked to economic sustainability. Similarly, CBO leaders ranked social equity and economic sustainability as the highest priority for their core mission. Lastly, CBO leaders heavily engaged in local collaboration in their sustainable community efforts. Therefore, serious pursuit of sustainable cities and communities must shift from a go-at-it-alone, centralized government approach to more inclusive, collaborative efforts that take advantage of the economic-social equity sustainability focus of CBOs in both planning and implementation.