Declaration of Principles
In 2003, a committee prepared a Declaration of Principles to serve as a reference document under which we could all find our place. We invite you to sign on and become part of the community voice.
To create more livable communities we, the members of the Alliance, will:
1. Protect the natural environment on which our communities depend
Human habitation has profound effects on our region and beyond. We need to create policies and take actions that protect all aspects of our ecosystems, mindful of the benefits to present and future generations. At stake is the health of our agricultural farmland, open spaces, and shared natural treasures (air, water, vegetation, minerals, and wildlife). Business operations, buildings, transportation networks, other infrastructure, and systems of taxation and subsidy should be well planned to provide healthful settings for our communities and to defend the living environment. Ecologically destructive land uses must be prohibited, especially in disenfranchised communities. Community planning should incorporate food production systems that sustain human life; effective, alternative transportation options; non-polluting, efficient, renewable energy sources; and building codes and design concepts that mitigate the local impact of global environmental stresses. Existing environmental regulations must be enforced without exception; additional laws supporting the rights of people and the environ-ment should be adopted.
2. Protect and extend fundamental rights and opportunities for all
Fundamental rights and opportunities must be protected and extended throughout the broad range of human diversity. The Alliance will encourage government, business, nonprofit institutions, community groups, and individuals to work together to ensure economic opportunity, quality education, comprehensive healthcare, good nutrition, safe neighborhoods, and personal development at all ages.
3. Promote broad, meaningful community participation in decision-making and ensure that communities can assert their needs as a higher priority than the rights and priorities of corporations
Broad participation in government at all levels is essential to strong communities. The Alliance will make use of laws, local governments, and the legal system to advance community interests. Electoral and campaign-finance reforms are needed to encourage and support greater participation in the political process by our diverse citizenry. We will work to secure easy access to public records and information about existing and proposed laws and regulations and to provide individuals with more effective ways to voice their opinions and concerns. In addition, we support the right to speak out in peaceful dissent. We encourage involvement in advisory groups such as Environmental Advisory Councils (EACs) to improve comprehensive, long-term planning and protect communities from exploitation. Corporate goals can present powerful obstacles to sustainability. Some corporations have even claimed the rights and privileges of individuals to assert control over local decision-making and quality of life. Local governments must ensure that industrial and commercial operations are appropriately scaled, carefully situated, and accountable to community stake-holders. Larger government and corporate entities must not preempt or abolish stronger local controls designed to protect and enhance human and natural communities.
4. Foster strong local economies
Strong local living economies provide secure and fulfilling livelihoods, foster enjoyable community life, work in harmony with nature, and strengthen the viability of independent local businesses and farms. Sound economic development policies encourage community revitalization by supporting local investment and business ownership, living-wage jobs, historic preservation, reuse of brownfields, and socially responsible business practices.
5. Develop healthy and holistic communities
Healthy communities preserve and celebrate biological and cultural diversity and promote activities that are productive and enjoyable. Health, happiness, and fulfillment of potential are linked to the well-being of the web of life of which we are a part. Food-producing systems have a direct impact upon health, happiness, and the integrity of our physical surroundings. We will encourage people to consume food that is whole, locally produced, and grown in ways that sustain and rebuild soil, water, wildlife, vegetation, and the lives of all of us.
To create well and whole communities, we will:
- encourage individuals to select a healthy lifestyle;
- work to build a strong, diverse, sustainable food system that recognizes the key role of local farmers;
- promote access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally-appropriate food;
- help to secure clean air and water, essential to maintaining our health;
- learn and demonstrate how to live in harmony with natural cycles;recognize and sustain a diversity of spiritual pathways, enhancing peaceful and healthy interactions within the community and beyond.
6. Promote discussion, education, and understanding of ways to maximize the health of individuals and communities
The Alliance supports education about sustainability, beginning in early childhood. Alliance members will promote discussion and understanding of those qualities that maximize health for individuals and communities. We will offer information and learning experiences to publicize, model, and promote healthy and holistic lifestyles. We will use available technology, as well as traditional interpersonal communications, to develop, disseminate, archive, and utilize information and ideas to improve sustainability. The Alliance supports the development of strong, independent, and inclusive, locally-based media outlets.
Healthy Communities Build Positive Futures
Considering the wide range of dysfunctions in our global and national societies and the speed with which they are spreading and deepening, we are unable to spell out the details of how to overcome all the obstacles to achieving a healthy society. On the other hand, we can point out the direction that will likely lead to acceptable solutions — a compass based on principles, rather than a roadmap.
We recognize the importance of identifying and pursuing mutual interests. People gain power when they unite to address issues of common concern. The Alliance will employ synergistic approaches to solve serious problems within and beyond our community borders; each effort should envision and seek the creative, benefits of positive multiplier effects while being catalysts for positive change. We are mindful of the history of good intentions leading too often to unintended consequences and also that “good” ends don’t justify “bad” means. Full utilization of all resources, human and technological, increases the likelihood and speed of our success in critical undertakings.
We can create more livable communities by listening to the concerns of residents, by expanding community education, and by encouraging a wider level of involvement in civic activities. The Alliance will initiate and support projects that increase the long-term economic, environmental, and personal health of our communities and residents. We gain influence by sharing information and resources with other organizations that share our goals. We seek to increase participatory democracy while voicing key concerns to local candidates, officeholders, authors of party platforms, and electorates. By maintaining a high level of commitment, seriousness of purpose, and broad, enlightened perspective, the Alliance can help solve the problems threatening our region.
Explore the many facets of sustainability in our Focus On section!