social permaculture

Sarah James on the natural steps for regenerating communities


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In today’s episode I’m going to bring us back to an aspect of strengthening community that I first began to explore in this series with David Holmgren and Charles Marhon. Back then we looked deeply into how suburbs and towns can work at a foundational level to regenerate their communities through civic planning and collaboration through each level of local government. 

In today’s episode I spoke to Sarah James, the co-author of the book The Natural Step for Communities which provides inspiring examples of communities that have made dramatic changes toward sustainability, and explains how others can emulate their success.

Sarah is the principal of a city and town planning consulting firm specializing in participatory planning methods. She co-authored the American Planning Association’s Planning for Sustainability Policy guide, and has published articles and given workshops throughout the United States.

In this interview Sarah breaks down the natural step framework designed to guide change makers through the process of coordinating positive change through many different aspects of their community. She recounts the inspiration she found in the eco municipalities in Sweden that she visited and the examples that prove that sustainable towns are possible. 

We also navigate the obstacles that you’re likely to face in the change making process as well as strategies that have been shown to work. We also go into the mindset of successful sustainability leaders, advice for aspiring change makers, some of Sarah’s own learnings while teaching these steps, and much more. 

If you’ve been following along since the beginning of the series you’ll undoubtedly be picking up on many recurring patterns in the advice and success examples from many of the interviews, and this session with Sarah is a wonderful reinforcement of these important learnings.


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