There is a relationship between sustainability and community participation, through social equity, one of the main components of sustainable development.
(Figure taken from: http://saferenvironment.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/sustainability.gif)
Sustainability can be achieved easier if the form of governance is a form of democracy or for me, done consensually. If you allow people to participate to effectively manage natural and built resources, then sustainable development will be achieved more accurately and efficiently. Democracy is the best form of governance of ensuring sustainable development.
Community participation is the phrase that professionals and academics in development interpret to be a more democratic way of deciding about our environment. Professor Ali Sayigh, our visiting professor at the Department of Architecture, was underlining the importance of ‘community participation’ in design, and we nodded in agreement during the lunch session yesterday. When I was in the U.K. in 2002, they were talking about ‘community participation’ then as well, but how it works in the different countries and context is something we need to work out first as we would not want to provide a solution that is based on the wrong objectives.
For schools, community participation would include having dialogue with the teachers and children who are the ‘clients’ and ‘users’ of the school. Depending on the context, a school will have certain needs. Referring to this link I found in twitterville:
A lot of examples can be learned and we seek to find green schools in the ASEAN region like the Green School in Bali. We did a research there under the ERGS grant where our researcher interviewed some teachers and students.
(Figure of a teacher teaching at the Green school in Bali, above taken from this LINK)
The research took us to building a recycling centre at a Shah Alam primary school, where a behaviour-environment study was conducted. It was a throughly engaging experience where we learned about the problems to creating a prototype of a green classroom which could not be materialised due to the lack of funding. Hence we could only build a recycling centre.
However, after this experience, I have made a study taking in from other experiences, notably regarding community participation and design and build. Experiences were taken from the second year studio program, the activism work on accessibility and disability and many aspects of teaching and learning. Research has been the key to all this experiences. And collaboration is the answer to make a start to reality.