“Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction.” - Albert Einstein

Aquinas College

Community Initiatives


Photo by Dan Burden, courtesy of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center


Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT)

The Center for Neighborhood Technology supports the development of sustainable communities by providing tools and resources to help with the implementation of sustainable urban development. The CNT has primarily worked in Chicago, but is now starting to work in other areas including South Florida, L.A. and Seattle.

Community Sustainability Partnership

The Community Sustainability Partnership (CSP) was established and developed to support achievement of the principles of the triple bottom line; economic prosperity, environmental integrity, and social justice. The initial partners include the City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Aquinas College, Grand Rapids Community College, and Grand Valley State University. Currently, there are over 200 endorsing partners from the public and private sectors.

Curitiba, Brazil

Led by Mayor Jaime Lerner, Curitiba was transformed from a congested, dirty, and poor city in Brazil, into a thriving self-sufficient community with a successful recycling and mass transit system, among other achievements.

Drake Landing Solar Community (DLSC)

The Drake Landing Solar Community (DLSC) is a master planned neighborhood in Okotoks, Alberta (Canada) with 52 single family homes largely powered by solar panels. The neighborhood is "heated by a district system designed to store abundant solar energy underground during the summer months and distribute the energy to each home for space heating needs during winter months. The system is unprecedented in the World, fulfilling ninety percent of each home’s space heating requirements from solar energy and resulting in less dependency on limited fossil fuels."

Fort Collins, Colorado

The city has programs aimed at affordable housing development, historic preservation, and protecting the land, water, and air with pollution prevention and wildlife habitat enhancement. In addition, the SmartTrips™ office has developed programs to help citizens travel without driving cars.

Foundation for Global Sustainability (FGS)

FGS is a multi-disciplinary advocacy and activist organization which monitors and addresses social and environmental issues in the Upper Tennessee Valley and the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The site offers information on former and current community programs in this region.


"GrandWalk is the section of land between the cities of Grand Rapids and Walker, Michigan, and it has the potential to become a national model of sustainability for living, working, and running a business."

Green Communities

The Green Communities organization strives to make affordable, green housing available nation-wide. The web site contains a variety of resources on the topic, including links, articles, model projects, events, and much more.

Lansing, Michigan- Capital Area Green Maps

Capital Area Green Maps provide maps for various places in the Greater Lansing area. It is designed for people to discover bike paths, nature centers, farmer’s markets, recycling centers, and composting facilities within the Lansing area.

Local Government Commission (LGC)

LGC is a nonprofit organization working to build livable communities.

Newberry Place: A Grand Rapids Co-housing Community

Newberry Place is an urban cohousing community in Grand Rapids, Michigan combining 20 private homes with sustainable neighborhood features. The community's design fosters strong relationships among neighbors, and creates shared and private green spaces.

Sierra Club Community Transformation Cases

The community transformation section of the Sierra Club site provides a pictorial examination of the possible transformations of El Cerrito, Kendall, Denver, Hercules, and Oakland into more sustainable communities. These pictures show a clear distinction between current development trends and the potential benefits of sustainable city initiatives.

Small City Downtown Revitalization Efforts- Northeast Midwest Institute

Communities from Chicago's urban neighborhoods to New England's small towns are meeting the twin challenges of deteriorating town centers and sprawling development through downtown revitalization. The link has examples that illustrate the varied approaches to the challenges and the results of their efforts.

Sustainable Grand Rapids

Sustainable Grand Rapids is dedicated to the sustainability initiatives in West Michigan. This site features the sustainability plan for the City of Grand Rapids, select community achievements, sustainability partnerships, as well as news and upcoming events.


Uptown is comprised of four residential neighborhoods (Baxter, East Hills, Eastown, Midtown), four commercial districts, and three historic districts in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There has been a large movement in this area, mostly led by Guy Bazzani of Bazzani Associates, to increase the walkability and mixed-use features of the region, while preserving historic features.

West Michigan Strategic Alliance

Located on the campus of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, the mission of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance is "to be a catalyst for regional collaboration." Through programming, publications, and presentations, the Alliance is working hard to make West Michigan "the best place to live, work, and play in the Midwest."

Funded by the Steelcase Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Header photo by Carol Y. Swinehart, courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant Extension
Site by CMC/GrandNet