A Future in Community-Based Sustainability

It might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s true nonetheless: In order to achieve a “sustainable community,” a collective effort is required. Not the dedication of a select few individuals, but instead a mutual, cohesive movement towards environmental responsibility. Our society can become a sustainable one – but it requires that everyone participate.

West coast lifestyle publication Sunset Magazine built upon this notion. Every year, the magazine unveils a home that, according to their press release, “showcase the latest innovations in architecture, construction,design, and sustainable building and gardening practices.” In doing so, they create buildings are embody sustainable living – and look stunning to boot.


This year, they went a step further. Sunset‘s first Idea Town was recently unveiled in Seabrook, a small community erected along Washington’s Pacific coastline. Abutting Olympic National Park’s southern entrance, the village is an easy day trip from either Portland for Seattle.  Seabrook is radically different from many of Washington’s other seaside tourist towns. On their website, they compare Seabrook to nearby Ocean Shores: “The two coastal towns are literally down the road from one another, but the concepts that guide them are worlds apart. Though their proximity can be viewed as an obstacle, it also serves as a great comparison of traditional design verses the power of more thoughtful, environmentally aware design.”


Utilizing a “five minute walk” concept, Seabrook’s planners ensured that resources – think stores, restaurants, and parks – could be within easy walking distance of any resident. In doing do, they eliminated the need for cars within the community. This implementation also ensures that Seabrook can maintain and preserve more of its natural surroundings and reduce the human imprint on the environment.

New Urbanism is a concept that is taking off across the United States, promoting communities that are accessible – both literally and financially – to families from a spectrum of backgrounds. Combining eco-friendly architecture with a comprehensive town plan, these villages enable people to live sustainably and affordably. The idea also revolts against urban sprawl, instead opting for communities that are compact. New Urbanism proves that close-knit towns does not have to be synonymous with cities. Seabrook, with its breathtaking scenery and coniferous landscape, dispels this notion the moment you see photos of it.


In an interview with MNN, town founder Casey Roloff explains, “Green building has received too much attention in our opinion and there has not been enough attention given to building walkable communities that have enough density to become sustainable. Architect, planner, and writer Steve Mouzan explains it best in the ‘Original Green.’ Essentially, he demonstrates how prior to the car being introduced and sprawl-based development we had no choice but building sustainable villages where multi-generations could live in a compact footprint.” In the simplest terms – history shows that compact, sustainable communities can work. Now it’s time to bring that concept back to life.

We’ve discussed the value in sustainable living before. But Sunset‘s latest project seems to mark a societal shift. As a national – and even global – community, environmental responsibility is becoming one of our biggest values. The Sunset Idea Town doesn’t have to be an idea. It can become a reality. But it truly does take a village to make change happen.

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