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Many sustainability projects develop as networks. As sustainability projects often involve a wider range of stakeholders, and sustainability encourages awareness of the bigger picture, this seems to a certain extent inevitable. Networks also encourage learning and mutual support, sometimes in expected ways, sometimes in unexpected ways.
This article can also be viewed as a shared work space, open to all, for developing ideas for networking, both virtual and real world, for local and wider sustainability action.
Networks: '...the process by which relationships and contacts between people or organisations are established, nurtured and utilised for mutual benefit.' Alison Gilchrist: 'Community Development & Networking' (2000)
'Networking is a means of communicating and organising according to a common cause, and a means of providing access to information, support, resources and influence. As such, networking is central to community development practice.' Community Development Exchange W
What communities can do
Overview, see right hand column for more
Why it matters
As with all networks, sustainability networks can help build and share inspiration, enthusiasm, information, knowledge and resources. Networks can also lead to greater influence for people and groups than they could expect if working alone or in isolation.
Asset-based community development
Asset-based community development (ABCD) is a methodology for the sustainable development of communities based on their strengths and potentials. It involves assessing the resources, skills, and experience available in a community; organizing the community around issues that move its members into action; and then determining and taking appropriate action. W
Community action for sustainability
Community action for sustainability has a focus on the concerns of communities and ordinary citizens, and is concerned with empowering communties to take practical action towards more sustainable futures.
A lot of the mainstream environmental movement historically has, very differently, had a focus on the concerns of organisations themselves, non-profits, think tanks, and so called 'leadership', concerning itself primarily with interaction with big government and big business. This is not to argue against interaction with government and business, just to point out that if that's all that's seen as important then this inevitably gives the impression that the concerns, capabilities and agency of local communties and citizens matter hardly at all.
By contrast community action for sustainability asserts that communities and ordinary citizens are hugely important actors in their own right in moving toward low carbon and sustainable futures. Sustainability isn't just something for experts. It's about everyone's quality of life and we all have a part to play.  Many now agree that innovation doesn't just come from where you might expect. Our best chance of successfully tackling climate change comes from inclusive involvement and consent. Increasingly knowledge and expertise is not restricted to the few and we all have a role in ensuring knowledge is used wisely. Assessment of needs and aspirations must involve the communities affected. Local knowledge helps find solutions which work.  The world does not remain as it was before the internet. Networks matter, "we-think"  emerges, crowdsourcing W works, "Here Comes Everybody" W, but most importantly of all, it is in local communites with their integrated and holistic vision, where sustainability and climate change issues become most real, solutions are often first glimpsed and where the change to a better quality of life is most genuinely and viscerally appreciated.
Environmentalism or Environmental rights is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental protection and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements. Environmentalism advocates the lawful preservation, restoration and/or improvement of the natural environment, and may be referred to as a movement to control pollution or protect plant and animal diversity. For this reason, concepts such as a land ethic, environmental ethics, biodiversity, ecology and the biophilia hypothesis figure predominantly.
At its crux, environmentalism is an attempt to balance relations between humans and the various natural systems on which they depend in such a way that all the components are accorded a proper degree of sustainability. The exact measures and outcomes of this balance is controversial and there are many different ways for environmental concerns to be expressed in practice. Environmentalism and environmental concerns are often represented by the color green. W
The environmental movement (sometimes referred to as the ecology movement), also including conservation and green politics, is a diverse scientific, social, and political movement for addressing environmental issues. Environmentalists advocate the sustainable management of resources and stewardship of the environment through changes in public policy and individual behavior. In its recognition of humanity as a participant in (not enemy of) ecosystems, the movement is centered on ecology, health, and human rights.
The environmental movement is an international movement, represented by a range of organizations, from the large to grassroots and varies from country to country. Due to its large membership, varying and strong beliefs, and occasionally speculative nature, the environmental movement is not always united in its goals. The movement also encompasses some other movements with a more specific focus, such as the climate movement. At its broadest, the movement includes private citizens, professionals, religious devotees, politicians, scientists, nonprofit organizations and individual advocates. W
Global Ecovillage Network
The Global Ecovillage Network is a global association of people and communities (ecovillages) dedicated to living "sustainable plus" lives by restoring the land and adding more to the environment than is taken. Network members share ideas and information, transfer technologies and develop cultural and educational exchanges. W
Green Drinks is an informal networking event where environmentally minded people meet over drinks. Started in London in 1989, by Edwin Datschefski, Paul Scott, Ian Grant and Yorick Benjamin, it has spread to 51 cities in the United Kingdom, 400 in the U.S. and many more in Canada, Germany, Poland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Manila, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Puerto Rico and Lebanon. As of March 2011, 770 Green Drink Chapters have been established worldwide. W
The Transition Network is a UK charity founded between late 2006 and early 2007. It was set up to disseminate the concept of the Transition towns. It has published books and films, trained people and facilitated networking. The network's website contains a listing of the initiatives that have registered there.
Some of the material has been translated and adapted to other languages/cultures, including Portuguese, Danish, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese and Irish. W
See also: Transition Network
News and comment
See separate article: Networks, news and comment
"A defining difference between Empire and Community, Suicide Economy and Living Economy is the shift from hierarchy to networking as organizing principle." David C. Korten
Peggy Duvette, CEO WiserEarth on youtube
Dan Mcquillan at mypublicservices on youtube