What makes a sustainable community?

Ludlow ButtercrossCan we use a mix of  indicators to show which of our communities are sustainable?

That’s the question the Observatory is aiming to answer as we continue our State of the Region dialogue on sustainable communities.

We published What makes a community sustainable? (pdf, 457kb) in October 2009. This report built on a workshop held in April 2009.

In the report we took the starting point that a successful West Midlands must be made up of communities where people want to live and work, now and in the future. The work then tried to understand the factors which make communities sustainable in this way.

The next stage of the work is to look at how we can identify which of our current communities are sustainable and which need action to help them to change.

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What does a sustainable city look like?

Sustainability West Midlands logoA couple of weeks ago I attended ‘Voices from the future 2020: how are we housed?’, an event organised by Sustainability West Midlands.

This is the first event in their ‘Voices from the future 2020′ series which develop themes from the report A low carbon vision for the West Midlands in 2020. The aim of this series is to stimulate thinking amongst decision makers in the West Midlands of the positive future we can have, and how to get there.

The main presentation, delivered by Stellan Fryxell, partner of Tenborn Architects in Stockholm, showed a great example of what a sustainable city looks like.

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Future proofing rural communities in Warwickshire

Warwickshire Rural Community Council logoWarwickshire’s rural dwellers are being encouraged to move to the forefront of the battle to address climate change by creating a ‘cheaper, greener, more sustainable’ future for their countryside communities.

Warwickshire Rural Community Council (WRCC) says that, historically, rural communities have always been willing to embrace change and see the strong community spirit at the heart of many villages as key to their future success.

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Launch of the first Place Survey results

Cobbled lane in HerefordshireResults of the first Place Survey were launched today providing information on people’s perceptions of their local area and the local services they receive.

The survey collects information on 18 national indicators for local government, used to measure local government performance for 152 county councils, metropolitan district councils, London boroughs and unitary authorities.

Communities Secretary John Denham said the results of the Place Survey—based on more than 500,000 people’s views and perceptions about where they live—demonstrates the importance of listening to local people and what they want for their local area.

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Celebrating our success

Growing tree branch against a blue skySince I joined the Observatory I’m more aware of what is said about the West Midlands.

On 3rd June I attended the conference Skills and Knowledge for Sustainable Communities in London and was very pleased to find that one of the case studies mentioned related to the regeneration of Attwood Green in Birmingham.

I think it is nice to get recognition from other regions, but I believe it is even nicer to deliver valuable learning from the work done in our region.

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A new approach to skills for sustainable communities

Cover of The Egan Review skills for sustainable communitiesIn 2004 the Egan Review started the discussion around skills for sustainable communities.

The Review aimed to identify the skills necessary, and any potential skill gaps, to deliver successful, sustainable communities.

The review recommended:

To encourage people into built environment professions and other core occupations; address gateway educational needs by working with employers, professional and academic institutions; address professional development needs; enable continuous development and review; and manage knowledge for those in associated and wider public groups.

However, two assumptions underline these recommendations:

  1. Qualifications and skills are equivalent
  2. Once you have learned a new set of skills (or achieved a qualification) you will practice the knowledge acquired.

I understand these assumptions are practical in terms of the analysis but could we say they are realistic?

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