Sustainable Atlanta EcoDistricts Initiative
Sustainable Atlanta was formed to help manage partnerships between the City, institutions, nonprofits, and the greater Atlanta community to help advance sustainability throughout the region. One aspect of this partnership is exploring EcoDistricts as a model for developing sustainable practices from the household to the neighborhood scale, where both significant advances in sustainability can be made and serve to benefit people as a whole.
In February and March 2014, SERA partnered with Sustainable Atlanta to conduct an online briefing and a day-long in-person training workshop to introduce stakeholders from the partnering neighborhoods of Lithonia, Lakewood Heights, and Atlanta University Center to the Civic Ecology framework, which is designed to help people formulate and plan the implementation of sustainability projects.
During the workshop, each of the groups succeeded in not only understanding the basics of the Civic Ecology approach but in pushing the technique beyond to truly explore unique, innovative projects and program ideas to bring neighborhood-based sustainability to their communities. Every participant in the workshop had a chance to make contributions to the groups and voice strong opinions about what would work in their home communities.
Attendees designed low-hanging fruit projects that are so vital for starting quickly and building community capacity and trust. They then dove deeper to devise BiHAGs, or Big Hairy Audacious Goals, that would take considerable time, resources, and labor to implement but could be truly transformative. In the end, the groups reconvened to present their project ideas and further discuss how EcoDistricts would function at home, work, and throughout Atlanta.