Communities throughout the United States are setting a high standard for livability, sustainability and civic pride. Here’s our 2012 list of eight we think are getting it right.
By David Wann
Many towns and cities have impressive natural and cultural assets, such as access to the seashore, a great climate for gardening or abundant renewable energy resources. But the best places to live — or simply visit — have something more: a sense of direction. Residents’ shared desire to build and maintain qualities such as resilience, health, security and a sense of fun guide such places’ priorities. Citizens invest their capital — monetary, social and natural — to ensure the health of both individuals and the community.
Our intent isn’t to encourage readers to pack up their belongings and descend on these locales. It’s to spotlight underappreciated communities that, large or small, are succeeding in creating a good home for the people who live there and are making choices with an eye to sustainability. Maybe residents went to college in these great places and liked it so much they never left. Maybe they volunteer at each citywide cleanup day, help organize a community parade, or spearhead the creation of a neighborhood garden. They’re the people who coordinate logistics for the annual music or arts festival, train the next generation of local organic farmers, or help preserve the open spaces and landscapes that define these communities. As the following towns and cities demonstrate, great places don’t just happen; they are created choice by choice, brick by brick — like the sturdy, historic buildings that proudly stand in many of the communities in this year’s edition of our annual feature.
These livable cities are not perfect. Some are dealing with environmental challenges, some with social problems, and several face economic difficulties. But each represents a community engaged in the question of how to make life better for its residents and for its ecosystem. We hope these examples will not only inspire you to make changes in your own community, but also to acknowledge what’s already great about the place you call home.
8 Great Places
Check Out Our Great Places From Previous Years:
David Wann has written 10 books on sustainable lifestyles, including Affluenza. We’re already at work on the 2013 edition of our annual Great Places feature. If you want to nominate a favorite place, email Letters@MotherEarthNews.com.