Community Environment Education Centers

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Abstract

This study focuses on designing a community environment education center (CEEC) for Chillingham, as a hub for community transition to sustainability, redressing social fragmentation, youth unemployment, a high eco-footprint and economic rural decline due to globalisation. The ecologically sustainable development framework was delivered by integrating environment education and community development through project-based experiential learning. The development of Chillingham Community Centre involved case study research and incorporated participatory design charrettes, transformative learning, eco-positive development and community-public-private partnerships. This process evolved from community strategic planning in a small rural village buffering world heritage rainforests impacted by a rapidly expanding urban conurbation on Australia’s east coast. This community space encompasses socio-environmental flows connecting people to each other and the ecoscape to grow natural capital, community cohesion and empower eco-governance. Modelling passive solar design, on-site renewable energy/water/nutrient cycling, community garden/market and environment education programs sowed the seeds for a green local economy, demonstrating community capacity to participate in transition to sustainability. A small rural community can demonstrate to other communities that a CEEC enables people to meet their socio-environmental and economic needs locally and sustainably. The ecologically sustainable solution is holistic, all settlements need to be richly biodiverse, locally specific and globally wise.