Sustainable Seattle: The Case of the Prototype Sustainability Indicators Project

  • Meg Holden
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 28)

As an organization, Sustainable Seattle (S2) can be considered to have gone through seven main phases to date (see Table 1). The organization’s inception occurred with a forum organized in late 1990 by a nongovernmental organization visiting Seattle from Washington, DC.1 The keenest participants in that forum continued to meet and, in an early phase of meetings and slow agenda-setting, devised a plan for assembling a civic panel that would set measurable indicators of sustainable community over the course of a 6-month process. This process led to the heyday of the organization, which involved the production of three successive sustainability indicator reports in 1993, 1995, and 1998 by volunteers and disseminating around the world both the reports and the processes underlying it. Following this was a spin-off phase in which the organization advanced about a dozen new initiatives and adopted a new role as a “center for applied sustainability” or umbrella for sustainabilityrelated initiatives regionally. Organizational changeover followed, on three fronts: leadership, volunteer base and interest, and organizational structure. This led to a downturn in activity and energy. Despite attempts to rebuild this energy through new structures and completing a series of paid contracts, the organization next went through a near-death phase in which the director departed and the board of directors considered folding the organization on several occasions. Torch holders remained, however, keeping the organization alive through its latest reorganization in which a new office, new director, mostly new board, and new slate of activities have been established. Once again in 2006, an update of the prototype sustainability indicator project is on the agenda.


Sustainable Development Executive Director Board Member Child Poverty Sustainability Indicator 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. AtKisson, A. (1996). Developing indicators of sustainable community: lessons from Sustainable Seattle. Paper commissioned by Environmental Impact Assessment Review. San Francisco: Redefining Progress.Google Scholar
  2. Sustainable Seattle (1993a). Definitions of Sustainable Development, Principles of Sustainability, Sustainable Communities Categories for Work Groups, Group Discussion Guide Developing the Assessment Framework. Seattle.Google Scholar
  3. Sustainable Seattle (1993b, 1995, 1998). Indicators of Sustainable Community. Seattle.Google Scholar
  4. Sustainable Seattle (2003, April). Improving Quality of Life in Seattle’s Neighborhoods: Using community-Based Performance Indicators to Measure What Matters. Grant proposal submitted to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Seattle.Google Scholar
  5. Teng, H.N. (1999). The Sustainable Penang Initiative. Remarks given at Mayors’ Asia Pacific Environmental Summit, Honolulu, HI (January 31–February 3). Available at
  6. True, K. (1996, December 11). Made to last. Seattle Weekly.Google Scholar
  7. Wilkins, F., Kass, S., and Ruben, B. (1995). Sustainable humor. Environmental Action 27(2):10.Google Scholar
  8. World Commission on Environment and Development (1987). Our Common Future. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meg Holden

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations