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The Role of Civic Environmentalism in the Pursuit of Sustainable Communities

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This paper addresses public participation in sustainability initiatives and in the development of sustainable communities. In particular, it examines two models of public participation in environmental policy, referred to as 'information deficit models', and 'deliberative and inclusionary processes and procedures' (DIPS). The difference between the two models will be examined through the framework of the US discourse of 'civic environmentalism'. Using both examples and an analysis of recent literature, a distinction between 'narrow focus' and 'broad focus' civic environmentalism will be presented. It is argued that 'information deficit models' of public participation usually associated with 'narrow focus' civic environmentalism can successfully contribute to the 'environmental' aspects of sustainable communities. The paper concludes that DIPS and the greater sharing of control by citizens, non-governmental organizations and local governments offered by 'broad focus' civic environmentalism, are far more likely to result in a greater social capital, and a holistic appreciation of the inextricable links between environmental, social and economic characteristics of sustainable communities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University, 97 Talbot Avenue, Medford MA 02155, USA. [email protected]

Publication date: May 1, 2003

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