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History

In the 1990s Sustainable Seattle was at the forefront of defining sustainability with its groundbreaking work on urban and regional indicators and systems thinking. With a clear vision of what kind of information was needed to move the city and region forward towards a more sustainable future, Sustainable Seattle worked to inspire real and actionable change.

Our creativity, energy, and innovative ideas are still referenced today as a formative spark in the sustainability movement. Many cities around the world continue to look to Sustainable Seattle as a resource and inspiration. Sustainable Seattle is acknowledged as a world-leader in sustainability indicators based on citizens’ values and goals for their communities.

In 1996, the Sustainable Seattle Indicators were recognized by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements with an “Excellence in Indicators Best Performance” Award. Sustainable Seattle has also received many other awards over our almost 20 year history. Sustainable Seattle is held to be the first "Sustainable Community" organization. Today, there are over 50 "Sustainable Community" organizations in Washington and hundreds nation wide. Redefining Progress surveyed over 170 sustainability projects around the country and found that more than 90 of them used Sustainable Seattle as a model for their own initiatives.

Our Founders

Alan AtKisson        Vicki Robin        Mark Aalfs             Carla Berkendall      
Richard Conlin       Nea Carroll       Jan Drago               Susan Hall          
Steve Nicholas      Belinda Berg     David Smukowski                      

 

References

"The indicators a society chooses to report to itself about itself are surprisingly powerful. They reflect collective values and inform collective decisions. A nation that keeps a watchful eye on its salmon runs or the safety of its streets makes different choices than does a nation that is only paying attention to its GNP. The idea of citizens choosing their own indicators is something new under the sun-something intensely democratic."
Donella H. Meadows, writing about Sustainable Seattle


The Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide, An Introduction to Sustainable Development Planning, provides information about Sustainable Seattle's role as a change agent (Chapter 6).

The early process of participatory action research is described in Peter Hardi and Terrence Zdan's book Assessing Sustainable Development: Principles in Practice (p. 125).

Paul D. Epstein, Paul M. Coates, Lyle D. Wray write about Sustainable Seattle in their book, Results that Matter.

Alan AtKisson describes the role Sustainable Seattle had in forwarding the sustainability field in his book The Isis Agreement.

William Greider writes about Sustainable Seattle's leadership in his book The Soul of Capitalism.