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Regional Asset Inventory

   The regional asset inventory will provide the hard data necessary to guide planning and sustainable development. It also allows us to seriously address the growth issue by quantifying sustainability thresholds, beyond which we don't want to go in order to preserve what the community agrees is the quality of life we wish to sustain.

   There's more information on the overall Community Assessment and Sustainability Inventory (CASI) project on the project's main page. The following is specific to the regional asset inventory aspect of the project. The CASI inventory looks at the economic, environmental, and social assets of a sustainable community. These assets can be broken down and grouped in various ways, one of which is the following.

   The most important things we need to make sure we have, of course, are food, energy, shelter, and health. After that comes a way of being a productive member of your community, sometimes satisfied by having a job. Do we have sufficient resources to meet these needs for the current population without relying on out of the region imports? This qualifier is becoming increasingly important should supply shocks from Peak Oil and global warming make those imports difficult, expensive, or simply unavailable. If the infrastructure and resource availability does exist, how many more people could it support within the carrying capacity of our bioregion? Answering these questions will entail taking a close and in depth look at what we have in the following areas from the perspectives of sustainability and quality of life -- which is often confused with, but is both qualitatively and quantitatively different from, standard of living.

   Sustainability planning covers four main need areas and the subsystems which have formed to meet these needs. These areas and subsystems are:

  1. Economic - this area meets the needs for money and work as provided by the financial and productive subsystems.
  2. Social - this area meets the needs for care and values as provided by the social subsystem.
  3. Governance - this area meets the needs for self-determination, information, and power as provided by the local government subsystem.
  4. Material - this area meets the needs for food, water, housing, and transportation as provided by the environment and infrastructure subsystems.

   The data sets for the sustainability inventory will be derived from specific aspects of the above subsystems. They will also be examined for whether or not they meet the requirements for sustainability that were covered in the first CASI workshop. For example, financial and productivity needs will look at meaningful work, income, and economic security. Social needs will look at safety, health care, education, spirituality, arts and culture, self-expression, and strong healthy relationships. Governance needs will look at equity, access, self-determination, and conflict resolution. Environment and infrastructure needs will look at food, local goods and services, housing, water, waste disposal, transportation, communication, and energy.

   Another way to look at the asset inventory is by the categories, or themes, we'll be gathering data on, and the relationships between them. In this respect there will be conceptual similarities with sustainability indicator projects, especially with the state variable in a pressure-state-response framework. The major themes for this inventory will be economy, education, environment, health, housing, politics/government, population, public safety, social/cultural, resource use, recreation, transportation, energy, media, and food. Within these themes, what are the issues, what are the goals, and what assets are available, inadequate or missing?

   Ways to measure progress from these data sets were detailed in the first CASI workshop on sustainable community indicators. The development, evaluation, and maintenance of the pertinent sustainability indicators is an interrelated, but separate aspect of this project.

   The data that is gathered during the inventory can then be used for the necessary variables in the calculation of economic and environmental carrying capacity. In land use planning this is most commonly known as a growth threshold standard, although some communities refer to it as an optimal population size. In this manner, communities can realistically begin planning for sustainable development, instead of allowing themselves to be blindly lead by the greed of the growth lobby which is quickly destroying any possibility of achieving a meaningful quality of life.

   If you would like to schedule an introductory consultation session or arrange a presentation or workshop for your group, please contact or give Dave or Allison, co-founders of Natural Systems Solutions, a call at (520) 887-2502.


"You didn't come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here."
Alan Watts


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