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The CASI Project

A Community Assessment and Sustainability Inventory

   The CASI project was conceived in the Fall of 2005. It is an outgrowth of our community organizing and education that emerged from the public screenings we started hosting in November, 2004 of the Peak Oil documentary, End of Suburbia, and builds on our work in ecopsychology and urban permaculture.

   According to just about everyone who has studied the systemic nature of our global crises in any depth -- and whose livelihood isn't tied to their denial -- the only logical and systemic response to Peak Oil, Global Warming, and an unstable and unsustainable global growth economy is a combination of relocalization, a concept first championed by the Post-Carbon Institute, and overcoming our disconnection from the natural world. This unique combination provided the main campaign platform for Dave Ewoldt when he was a Whatcom County, WA county council candidate in the 2005 primary election, and relocalization provided the core platform for Dave Croteau in his general election bid for the mayor's seat in Tucson, AZ in 2007.

   One of the first steps that must be undertaken in a successful relocalization campaign is to find out what the community has to work with from a sustainability perspective, assess what's missing, and uncover as many barriers to becoming sustainable as possible. Thus, a regional inventory of economic, environmental, and social assets is necessary to guide a community or region's response to the local impacts of these global crises. Only with a full set of facts, and widespread community support, can local decision makers make informed choices that support a sustainable future.

   Something else that must be honestly stated right up front, and the aspect of both relocalization and adhering to a definition of sustainability that tends to make community leaders and politicians extremely nervous, is that the mainstream understanding of growth is neither inevitable, nor is it something that communities have no choice but to accomodate. In fact, there are constitutionally valid legal defenses, as well as solid economic reasons, to put a halt to the voracious growth machine that is both draining local coffers dry and degrading quality of life for approximately 90% of the typical community's population.

   Below are the core aspects of the CASI project. The first iteration of this project took place in Bellingham, WA in the Spring of 2006. We're currently organizing to launch this project in Tucson, AZ in the Spring of 2009, and are available to help implement this project in any community desiring to do so.

  • The proposal for the CASI project. Why it's needed, its core structure and some of the uses it can be put to.
  • Scope of Work
  • The Urgency Factor -- Some of the specific examples provided are unique to Tucson and the Sonoran Desert. Every other city and bioregion has their own set of circumstances, and their relationship to common global crises will require their own set of responses. If you're using these documents as a foundation for your own relocalization campaign, simply substitute as needed. This page pretty much sums up the "pitch" I use when introducing the CASI project.
  • A sample letter of support we've received from the community. This one is from Professor Guy McPherson of the University of Arizona's School of Natural Resources.
  • More background information on the inventory aspect of the CASI.
  • A Grim Fairy Tale. Here's a short "interactive" fable, A Tale of Two Tucsons, written by Allison Ewoldt. Pick the ending you'd prefer to see.

   If you'd like to contribute, participate, or otherwise help with this project, contact Dave Ewoldt at (520) 887-2502 or send e-mail to


"Having to squeeze the last drop of utility out of the land has the same desperate finality as having to chop up the furniture to keep warm."
Aldo Leopold


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