What’s in each chapter of Kitchen Table Sustainability?

 Little girl is reading a book






This book is about the critical relationships among three important things in this book: sustainability, communities and community engagement.

We see sustainability as the overall goal, communities as the means to achieving that goal and community engagement as the ongoing, underlying process that enables the journey to continue.

Thus, in chapters 2 and 3, we discuss these components in this order.


At its core, Kitchen Table Sustainability is our approach to community engagement with sustainability, referred to as EATING. Eating is nourishing, nurturing and sustaining. It transforms the bounty of our Earth into energy we can use. It is the most basic human activity and is often done together (at the kitchen table). We introduce the EATING approach in more depth in chapter 4.


The EATING approach consists of six components – food groups if you like –Education, Action, Trust, Inclusion, Nourishment and Governance. With respect to community engagement with sustainability, we view each of these as a necessary part of a well balanced diet. All components must be included – or the diet (the engagement process) – will be deficient and we will not be sustained. are introduced in the subsequent chapters as follows:


Chapter 5: Education: asks what information and knowledge do we need to impart and share for community engagement with sustainability? It seeks guidance from adult and environmental education and presents our new model, Community Education for Sustainability (CES). We also describe a community-based, participatory approach to growing local knowledgeability about sustainability and community building.


Chapter 6: Action explores two key questions: ‘How can the frustration of inaction be overcome in community engagement processes?’ and ‘What actions are required to achieve transformative change for sustainability?’ The chapter discuss how to achieve systemic change to established regimes, with a particular focus on the role of activism. We identify ways in which the activist in each of us can be harnessed to work beyond the traditional ‘us’-and-‘them’ categorization of actors involved in community engagement processes.


Chapter 7: Trust examines at the persistent problem of trust in community engagement: what happens when trust is broken and how trust can be nourished in hard times with difficult problems to address.We identify principles and approaches to tackle trust to help communities form trusting relationships about sustainability issues.


Chapter 8: Inclusion highlights the diversity of our communities and the need for ‘listening across difference’, emphasizing the valuable roles that children and young people can play as engaged citizens and not ‘citizens-in-the-making’. Our approach to inclusion is about everyone sitting at the table – all tables – speaking and being heard.


Chapter 9: Nourishment provides some solace for the worried community member and embattled sustainability practitioner by drawing attention to some ancient and basic principles, including that we cannot nourish the Earth and our communities if we cannot nourish ourselves.We explore ways to nourish – and be nourished by – self, community and Nature. With this support, we can effectively engage with community and sustainability. It presents the Personal Sustainability Action Plan.


Chapter 10: Governance argues that specific governance approaches should underpin community engagement with sustainability – notably, participatory governance and transformative management. We include stories and several detailed case studies to illustrate fundamental principles. And we describe commonsense tools and practices for good governance consistent with these principles.


Case studies and examples in the book are drawn from our own experience and that of our friends and colleagues around the world — particularly in Australia, Sweden and Canada. They are diverse in content and scale — from personal stories told around the kitchen table, to town centre redevelopments, engagement with children and young people, community renewal, local activism and creative visualisation.


In our final Chapter 11, Conclusions we identify challenges and opportunities for everyone: governments (local, state, provincial and federal); developers and the private sector; consultants in the land professions; community engagement practitioners; social, environmental and community activists; non-government organizations; artists and community development practitioners; teachers and academic; children and young people and their parents; and citizens.


Finally, we lay down ‘The Mother of all Challenges’: to create caring communities.


The book concludes with Notes for all chapters and a comprehensive list of References.


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