Social Sustainability and the Art of Engagement—the Small Towns: Big Picture Experience – 167KB (2005)

Governments everywhere are recognizing environmental sustainability as a major driver of technological and economic development—with innovative direction being found at the interface of our efforts to become more socially and environmentally sustainable. Rural communities, faced with the pressures of unprecedented change, have an opportunity to embrace the principles of sustainable development, to create a new future at the leading edge of global change—but they need help. They need both knowledge and skills to enable them to self-evaluate and strategically plan, and they need a highly motivated, creative, and coherent community to carry it through. Small Towns: Big Picture is a community development process designed to foster creative, energetic, and collaborative action by five small rural communities in central Victoria—focusing on the development of social, environmental, and economic sustainability indicators. The project bought together artists, researchers and local communities to produce a coherent and shared understanding of the sustainability issues and opportunities. This paper presents Small Towns: Big Picture, focusing specifically on the social dimension and the development of a Community Cohesion indicator through an arts-led community engagement process.