Concepts related to Innovative Communities
As with `sustainable development', there is no single accepted definition of sustainable communities. Much of the literature recognizes that communities must define sustainability from a local perspective. The dilemma is how to encourage democracy (participatory local processes) within a framework of sustainability (e.g., acknowledging global as well as local biophysical limits, inter- and intra-generational social equity, and an economy that satisfies individual and community needs rather than one that simply grows).
One interpretation of a sustainable community is a settlement which:
Village Homes, Michael and Judy Corbetts' 70-acre (28 ha), 270-unit solar subdivision in Davis, California is a pioneering example of sustainability-by-design that has received considerable attention (e.g., Lang and Armour 1982, CalOAT 1979). The community is extremely energy efficient through intensive land use, prominent use of solar energy, functional landscaping (e.g., trees were selected for maximum summer and minimum winter shading), energy-efficient transportation (all roads end in cul-de-sacs, making it faster to walk than drive from one area to another, and a comprehensive greenbelt pathway is tied into the city bikeway network), and the active involvement of residents. The Corbetts attempted to promote "sense of community" through physical design and by establishing a homeowners' association to allow residents to participate in development and management decisions. (They also chose to reside in the community and Michael Corbett later became mayor of Davis.)