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Saul Bellow

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Attraction Retreat's CASI Project

A Community Assessment and Sustainability Inventory for Whatcom County

   The CASI project was conceived in the Fall of 2005. It is an outgrowth of the community organizing and education based on natural systems that grew out of the public screenings Attraction Retreat hosted starting in November, 2004 of the Peak Oil documentary, End of Suburbia. Heading up a relocalization project was also the main campaign platform that Dave Ewoldt, AR's Executive Director, ran on when he was a Whatcom County council candidate in the 2005 primary election.

   According to just about everyone who has studied the issues in any depth, and whose livelihood isn't tied to their denial, the only logical response to Peak Oil and Global Warming is relocalization, a concept first championed by the Post-Carbon Institute.

   One of the first steps that needs to be undertaken in a successful relocalization campaign is to find out what the community has to work with, what's missing, and try to discover possible barriers to becoming sustainable. Thus, a regional inventory of economic, environmental, and social assets is necessary to guide a community or region's response to the local impacts of global crises. Only with a full set of facts, and widespread community support, can local decision makers make informed choices.

   The CASI section of AR's website consists of the following pages:

  • The philosophy behind the CASI project. Why it's needed, and some of the uses it can be put to.
  • Our CASI project fund drive letter. If you believe that sustainability is one thing we can all agree on for our future, help kickstart its path to success.
  • The CASI supporters. Here's the current list of individuals, businesses, and organizations that are supporting and co-sponsoring the CASI project.
  • More background information on the inventory aspect of the CASI.
  • Here's the invitation we sent out for the kickoff workshops. A few additional details, and another approach to framing the project. If you're thinking about doing a similar project in your community, you'll find some additional useful information here.
  • The synopsis of the 1st workshop, Sustainable Community Indicators. The workshop covered what sustainability, carrying capacity, and ecological footprint are and how they can be used; what Peak Oil and global warming are and how they are going to impact this region and our lifestyles; that sustainable development is not sustained growth; what sustainability indicators are, how they can be developed, and ways to evaluate their effectiveness. The alternative of relocalization was introduced, and how steady-state economics can provide for the needs of a self-reliant and resiliant community in order to remain vibrant in the face of global crises and the business as usual approach of special interests. People came away with an understanding that a sustainable community seeks to maintain and enhance all three types of community capital: natural, social, and financial/built, and that sustainable community indicators acknowledge the links between the economic, environmental and social aspects of a community.
  • A Grim Fairy Tale. Here's a short "interactive" fable written by Allison. Pick the ending you'd prefer to see.

   As of the 1st of March, 2006 we're about 1/6 of the way toward our funding goal. The first two steps, the workshops, have been held. Now, we need to secure the rest of the funding for the inventory step. If you'd like to contribute, participate, or otherwise help with this project, contact Dave Ewoldt at (360) 756-7998 or by e-mail to


"Having to squeeze the last drop of utility out of the land has the same desperate finality as having to chop up the furniture to keep warm."
Aldo Leopold


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