This article describes research that builds on a previous study of social capital conducted in 2002 and 2003 in a Canadian community, exploring the relationship between agency and sustainable community development.
Community networks are self-organized groupings that form for many different reasons. Some networks, connected mainly through bonding ties, are based on personal interests and relationships; others, based mainly on bridging ties, centre around broader interests.
What makes a city sustainable? Is it a question of limits or scale - can a city be too big, can a community be too small to be sustainable? Or is it the most energy-efficient state-of-the-art green buildings and recycling programs that make a city sustainable? Or is it about good transit, walkable neighbourhoods and locally-produced foods, goods and services, or diversity?
Human societies worldwide are dealing with messy, wicked problems beyond the capacity of any one sector, community or nation to solve. In such complex, turbulent environments (Trist 1983) there is even a greater need for collaboration between sectors, communities, and countries to solve the dynamically interconnected problems human societies are now facing.
Canada’s cities have reached a critical point in their collective history. Many need significant new investment in infrastructure. But they also need a substantially different planning model to work with than they have had in more than half a century. The new model will have to focus on the uniqueness of each community's needs.
In a changing and unpredictable world, sustainable community development is less a goal than a dynamic process of working with the resources and information at hand. In order to sustain this dynamic interactive process, communities need to anticipate and respond to these dynamics and nurture their resilience in order to innovate and diversify.
This paper explores the ways in which one community has developed strong social capital in the light of several development challenges. Using a case study approach data was collected from a small community in the Queensland hinterland.
In this paper, we question the importance of social capital as a primary indicator of a community's ability to engage in sustainable development as social capital can have both hindering and facilitating effects. We suggest that actor agency allows an individual or group to increase access to other critical forms of capital to overcome barriers and solve problems.