Public input sought by Buncombe County on its draft Sustainability Plan

Buncombe County is asking residents read the county’s Sustainability Plan Draft and provide feedback to help develop the final plan. A copy of the draft plan and information on how to submit your comments can be found at buncombecounty.org/sustainability .

One final community meeting allows the public to provide feedback:
Thursday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m.
Buncombe County Commission Chambers
30 Valley Street downtown Asheville

Feedback on the draft plan must be submitted by Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011.

The draft plan is available online for review, and comments may be submitted online at buncombecounty.org/sustainability or at the reference desk of Buncombe County library branches.

Comments, concerns, or questions? Call (828)250-4830 or sustainability@buncombecounty.org.

The draft plan is lengthy. It lists 14 goals, and provides a worksheet for each, with objectives, sustainability measures and strategies for consideration. Here are a few highlights:

The concept of sustainability is certainly not a new one, globally or locally. The earliest residents of Buncombe County had to adopt sustainable practices to ensure that they could support themselves and their families in an often formidable landscape and climate. The rich history of Buncombe County as both a proactive community and local government is highly recognized. As our community continues to grow we find ourselves increasingly focused on adapting in a sustainable manner to these changes in our community. As sustainability expert Mark Roseland notes, “sustainable communities are not merely about ‘sustaining’ the quality of our lives—they are about improving it” (2005, p. 2).

There are a number of definitions for sustainability and sustainable development, the most often quoted of which is that developed by the World Commission on Environment and Development1. This Commission concluded that “Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Our Common Future, 1987). Discussions of sustainable practices often include references to the “triple bottom line” approach, which takes into account economic, environmental, and social concerns in order to evaluate proposed actions. With the vast array of definitions of sustainability that have been developed in recent years, it was important for Buncombe County to develop an understanding of sustainability which spoke specifically to Buncombe County. The Buncombe Sustainability Partners and the County crafted a Vision and a Mission statement2 in order to help guide both County Government and our larger community in the development of goals, objectives, indicators, outcomes, and strategies for implementation of this plan. These statements help the County ground its efforts through collaboration with existing initiatives and plans, providing focus and direction as we all work towards our hopes for the future of our community.

Mission Statement
Buncombe County is dedicated to strengthening our quality of life for everyone by taking fiscally and socially responsible actions to ensure the prosperity of future generations. Our collective decisions as citizens, businesses, government, and organizations measurably enrich our environment, our community, and our economy.

Vision Statement
Buncombe County is a leader in sustainable practices through the collaboration of citizens, institutions, businesses, and government.

We promote a sense of community through public engagement. We celebrate a healthy, safe, well‐educated, and thriving community with a sustainable quality of life. We are stewards of the environment who advocate the conservation, preservation, and restoration of resources. We are part of a community and environmentally‐conscious economy that is stable and diverse. We have a strong sense of place, and continue to work to preserve our distinctive landscape and culture.

We are committed to continually improving our community for the betterment of future generations.

Goals for the Future of Buncombe County
Fourteen overall goals for the Buncombe County Sustainability plan were developed with input from local and state government, community partners, and citizens. By setting these goals, we define what we want to achieve within our environment, community, and economy through the adoption of this plan. These goals, which set the framework for our plan, are as follows:
• Healthy Environments
• Healthy People
• Affordable, Green, and Livable Housing
• Citizen Participation in Community Decisions
• Equity in Access
• Safe, Low‐Crime Communities
• Resistance to Natural and Manmade Hazards
• Educational Resources Which Match the Needs of the Community
• Partnerships for Conservation/Preservation/Restoration of Natural Resources
• Pollution and Waste Prevention
• Accessible, Multi‐Modal, Efficient Transportation Network
• Sustainable Local Food Systems
• Sustainable Localized Economy
• Work Force Development

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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism.

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