Resource Guide for Just, Green, Beautiful Communities photo by Sybil Tate

sustainable design tools

BuildingGreen, Inc. Find information on online sustainable design courses, a green product directory, and the monthly print newsletter Environmental Building News. 803/257-7300,

The American Institute of Architects' website features Architects and the Public feature includes projects on designing for community and aging, tips on how to work effectively with an architect, resources before you build, and summer architecture education for high school students. Based in Washington D.C. with hundreds of chapters across the U.S. and world. 800/AIA-3837,202/626-7300,

City Farmer, Canada's office of urban agriculture, offers information on rooftop gardens, school gardens, gardening with children or people with disabilities, policy, urban forestry, water-wise gardens, and being an urban garden entrepreneur. 604/685-5832,

DESIGNER/builder, a bi-monthly magazine, examines how the built environment affects our social and political realities. 505/471-4549,

Livable Landscapes: By Chance or By Choice?, a documentary from Bullfrog Films. Follows five communities in New England struggling with choices and options for development and conservation as they grow. To buy or rent a copy call 610/779-8226 or go to

Missoula Institute for Sustainable Transportation outlines the key elements of livable cities, including trails and walkways to open spaces, active public process, and community festivals and how to make them work for your community. 406/541-2010,

The Northwest Earth Institute, based in Portland, OR, offers self-facilitated discussion courses in all 50 states designed for your workplace, faith community, or home. The eight-week study course, “Discovering A Sense of Place,” can be used by neighbors to understand where they live from a bioregional perspective and to take steps to shape and preserve that place. 503/227-2807,

The Project for Public Spaces works to improve the parks, markets, and other structures that build community. Offers courses, tools, and handbooks on creating successful markets and public spaces. 212/620-5660,

network for change

Community Greens, provides resources to encourage neighbors, cities, and developers to create shared green spaces in urban neighborhoods. 703/527-8300,

Walkable Communities will help you transform your neighborhood or city into a more healthy, enjoyable, sane, and connected place. 386/454-3304,

ZERI (Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives) encourages businesses to design systems that build jobs, economies and eliminate pollution by turning one business' waste into a resource for another. ZERI's educational initiative encourages kids to become budding sustainable design scientists.

The Cohousing Association of the U.S. provides resources for groups and professionals developing cohousing (a form of intentional community), publishes Cohousing Magazine, hosts workshops, and provides a network for cohousing communities. Based in Boulder, Colorado. 314/754-5828,

Co-op America helps citizens and businesses build a green economy together through green business programs and guides for socially and environmentally responsible investing, and connects them through the National Green Pages and annual Green Festivals. 800/584-7336,

American Community Gardening Association connects rural and urban community gardeners across the nation. Offers educational bulletins, a quarterly newsletter, and conferences. Based in New York City. 877/ASK-ACGA, connects green businesspeople with green businesses through features Green Dream Jobs; provides information on progressive investing, how to get your green business financed, and sustainable business news.

The Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities assists funders interested in addressing problems caused by poor development decisions and connects them to organizations advancing more livable communities and better growth strategies. 305/667-6350,

Smart Growth Network, a coalition of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, non-profits, and government organizations, provides an online A–Z smart growth resource library, including designing sustainable workplaces and campuses, and preserving historic places., 202/962-3623.

advancing equity

Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility publishes New Village, a journal on sustainable community development, and an Architectural Resource Guide for ecological building materials; gives awards each year in the categories of peace, environment, and development, and advocates low-income housing and social programs. ADPSR is calling for architects and designers to boycott designing new prisons., 415/974-1306,

Smart Growth America is a coalition of nearly 100 national, state and local groups. Website features Congress Watch (which tracks federal legislation), reports on metropolitan expansion and subsidized growth, updates on campaigns like Complete the Streets and Good Jobs First, and tools for community advocates, including How to Talk About Smart Growth. 202/207-3351,

Urban Habitat, based in Berkeley, California, brings together community, church, and labor leaders of color to understand the structures and dynamics shaping the region; publishes an easy-to-read, illustrated history of regional environmental justice in a pamphlet titled How Did We Get Here? Also publishes the bi-annual national journal, Race, Poverty, and the Environment. 510/839-9510,

PolicyLink advances policies to ensure everyone, including low-income communities of color, can contribute to and benefit from economic growth. The tools in their Equitable Development ToolKit help community builders achieve diverse, healthy, mixed-income neighborhoods that provide opportunities for employment, education, and safe, affordable housing. With the Funder's Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities will host the Advancing Regional Equity Conference, May 23–25. 510/663-2333,

Smart Growth and Social Equity, a film directed by Rick Butler and produced by Paloma Pavel of Earth House Center, serves as an introduction to the issues of regional equity. To order a copy, call 510/652-2425. Find a list of conferences and events, how to get involved, and for networking across regions and issues at

The Rural Studio Film documents the work of Samuel Mockbee's Rural Studio, an architectural studio in Hale County, Alabama, that trains students and builds affordable homes and community spaces. Directed by Chuck Shultz and produced by Blueprint Productions. 212/563-4504,

The Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University offers information, events, books, curriculum guides, and reports on environmental and economic justice, land-use planning and industry siting, brownfields, transportation equity, suburban sprawl, smart growth, and community health, including a transportation equity newsletter and film, and urban planning curriculum. 404/880-6911,

improving schools

EcoSchools Design features a list of organizations working to make schoolyards greener and safer for kids.

Rebuild America, a project of the U.S. Department of Energy and community partners, offers online calculators to determine your school's energy use and strategies to lower consumption.

Innovative Design's website offers a guide to affordable daylighting and catchwater systems for schools and links to studies outlining the benefits of energy efficient schools. 919/832-6303,

National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities lists books, journal articles and web-based guides on using a school's built environment as a context for learning.

The Green Schools Initiative report, The Little Green Schoolhouse, outlines practical steps schools can take beginning with being toxics-free and moving to green schools that children have been involved in creating, and provides a blueprint for making it happen, including tips for winning a school board vote.

Second Nature helps colleges and universities incorporate environmentally and socially sustainable practices into facilities management, systems planning, and academic programming, and to network with educational, commercial, and governmental partners across the U.S. and Canada.

National Farm to School Program's website features case studies, how-to guides, and grant opportunities for schools to undertake a community food project. 323/341-5095,

The Healthy Schools Network provides information on best environmental health practices for parents, personnel, and schools that is clear and easy to accomplish. Download posters, reports, and guides from the website on better lighting, indoor air quality, preventing asthma attacks, avoiding pesticides, renovation, and more. 518/462-0632,


The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, one of the most influential books in urban planning, employs observation and common sense to argue that cities, buildings, and streets should be designed for people. Vintage Books, 1961, 1989

The Geography of Nowhere, by James Howard Kunstler, questions how a country of distinct and vital small towns became a mess of homogeneity and pavement and how we might work to make the places where we live and work worth caring about again. Simon & Schuster, 1993

The New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture of Community, by Peter Katz, uses 24 case studies of new and revitalized neighborhoods to explore a movement toward building places that foster community. McGraw-Hill Professional, 1993

ecocities: Building Cities in Balance with Nature, by Richard Register, sets out to challenge the way we approach urban development in order to build cities that are ecologically and socially sustainable. Berkeley Hills Books, 2002

From Eco-Cities to Living Machines, by Nancy Jack Todd and John Todd, discusses how we can integrate ecology, biodiversity, water, agriculture, and a bioregional perspective into the design of our urban systems. North
Atlantic Books, 1994

A Field Guide to Sprawl, by Dolores Hayden, provides the vocabulary to talk about and challenge the uninhibited growth now characterizing the U.S. landscape, with each definition illustrated by an aerial photograph.
W.W. Norton, 2004

Highway Robbery, edited by Robert D. Bullard, Glenn S. Johnson, and Angel O. Torres, demonstrates how U.S. transportation systems have perpetuated inequality by limiting who has access to reliable, safe, and practical public and private transportation, most often excluding poor people and people of color. South End Press, 2004

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, by William H. Whyte, uses survey and observation in New York City's plazas to demonstrate what does and does not make a place work. Project for Public Spaces, 1980.

The Experience of Place, by Tony Hiss, presents an experiential place-based approach to restoring our cities, rural areas, and landscapes. Vintage Books, 1991

Regions That Work: How Cities and Suburbs Can Grow Together by Manuel Pastor Jr., Peter Dreier, J. Eugene Grigsby III, and Marta López-Garza, argues that equity must be the focus of smart growth policy. University of
Minnesota Press, 2000

Great Streets, by Allan B. Jacobs, uses observation of city streets around the world to describe the specific qualities that make a street great. MIT Press, 1995

Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way, by Jim Diers, provides spirited and hard-earned advice for any neighborhood finding their own way to build community. University of Washington Press, 2004

A New Theory of Urban Design, by Christopher Alexander, presents a plan for designing places with a sense of wholeness. See also Alexander's other books. Oxford University Press, 1987

Superbia!, by Dave Wann and Dan Chiras, outlines 31 practical steps neighbors can take to make their urban or suburban neighborhood more economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. Includes a comprehensive resource guide to supplement each neighborhood makeover suggestion. New Society Publishers, 2003

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