Community planning is fundamentally about making value-based choices. Many communities across the world have begun moving towards a more ecologically and socially conscious, principle-oriented approach to planning, with explicit sustainable community goals to guide decision-making. In Canada, cities like Vancouver and Waterloo are leading the way in developing new sustainability approaches to community development.  Kelowna’s previous mayor, Sharon Shepherd, initiated ongoing efforts to make our community the most sustainable mid-sized city.

Sustainability represents the emergence of a distinctive worldview that incorporates new scientific theories and design approaches, as well as some long standing ethics dealing with people's relationship with each other, the environment, and future generations. Sustainability can also be seen as a synthesis of progressive planning concepts and ideologies, such as bioregionalism, the ecosystem approach, healthy communities and the green movement. The environmental and social turbulence of our time reflects the waning utility of the old industrial-era paradigm and the imperative of consciously creating new types of organizations, settlements and socio-economic systems.

Of course, many indigenous peoples have lived sustainably for centuries, and continue to provide modern-day leadership.  The current resurgence of interest in new physics and interfaith spirituality adds depth to the sustainability paradigm by connecting us to the power of love and the dynamic principles of a holographic universe. The Avalon SHIFT Sustainability Framework incorporates these cutting edge perspectives and opens up a world of new possibilities for creative action. 

We have combined the best practical approaches to sustainable development with the evolutionary concepts of our SHIFT framework to create the 13 guiding principles listed below. These principles are applied to various aspects of community life and development planning practice, including: personal development and social relationships, organizational structures, use of land and natural resources, settlement design, technological choices, public policy and decision-making processes.


AVALON'S 13 GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY PLANNING

1. Stewardship of Ecological Systems and Processes: Emphasizing that nature has rights too and there is an ecological 'bottom line' or carrying capacity that must be respected in the way we plan our communities and use natural resources. Protecting biodiversity and life-support systems, and using resources wisely, are essential to the maintenance of this world. Letting go of control-based management and realizing that we can co-create with the multi-dimensional intelligence of nature and the holographic universe.

2. Balance between individual and community interests: Respecting and accommodating both individual and collective interests in public institutional decision-making. Encouraging self-responsibility while supporting the community-wide concerns of a conscious and caring citizenship.

3. Community Sense of Place: Emphasizing the protection of regionally diverse landscapes and cultures, and creating awareness and affection for the unique local features, history, literature, language and customs.

4. Diversity and Choice: Respecting diversity and choice has both ecological and cultural dimensions, including maintaining species diversity and honouring different cultures, religions and lifestyle choices. Aspiring to create a global society without racism, repression or war.

5. Regional Self-reliance & Economic Vitality: Optimizing human and natural resources to foster a cohesive, resilient and interdependent populace with a developed sense of community and diverse economic options.

6. Best Available, Multifunctional Solutions: Creatively searching and brainstorming for naturally elegant, 'win-win' solutions. Promoting innovative technologies, designs or management systems that have the most benefits or functions and the least costs or impacts.

7. Holism and Interconnectedness: Representing a shift from individual alienation and disenchantment to an awareness of living interrelationships, belonging and purpose.  Realizing that humanity can consciously align with the harmonic patterns and fundamental processes underlying all forms and scales of creation.

8. Quality of Life and Human Dignity: Recognizing inherent human rights and the need for equitable access to healthy food, water, housing, work opportunities, recreational and educational facilities. Building safe and inspiring living environments that contribute to the development of our higher potential, creativity and spirit.  Promoting opportunities to evolve loving relationships and meaningful activities.

9. Current and Intergenerational Equity: Addressing current inequities in the distribution of wealth and resources, and considering the possible needs of future generations in current decision-making.

10. Cooperation for the Good of Society: Sharing ideas and resources interdependently towards advancement of the community as a whole, while valuing and acknowledging individual contributions.

11. Building Capacities and the Ability to Manage Change: Assisting individuals and communities by helping them discover their potentials and build skills and understanding. Developing on-going community decision-making processes that are adaptive, flexible and responsive.

12. Community Participation and Partnerships: Fostering democratic civil society by actively involving the public in community development, creative problem-solving and open arts and media expression.

13.  Inside-Out Change: Understanding that the conditions of society correspond to our inner states of consciousness, and that by healing our hearts and aligning ourselves to the higher good we can change the world.