Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

Spring 2014


Sustainable development, Community development, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), Educational leadership


From ten thousand years ago back to the beginning of human existence, people lived in small communities of hunter-gatherers; tight knit communities who depended upon each other for their very survival. There was no ownership of land, homes, crops or animals, every thing they did have was communally held and shared in a term Ryan & Jetha (2010), call “fierce egalitarianism” (p. 9), sharing was mandatory. Humans have been around in our current manifestation for roughly two hundred thousand years and the earliest evidence of agriculture is from approximately ten thousand years ago (Ryan & Jetha, 2010), or five percent of our existence. Put into a smaller -more understandable- scale, if homo sapiens’ entire existence fit into one hour, we spent 57 of those minutes living in community that we relied upon for all of our needs. We still need community - we’re hardwired for it. The last 3 minutes have not negated that need. There are certainly other reasons than our lack of community for the destruction we’ve done to the earth, but without community to both support us and hold us accountable for our actions, stopping the destruction is going to be a lot harder.

If we embrace the principles of voluntary simplicity, trusteeship, Gandhi’s swadeshi, participation, ownership and the development of small, local economies and communities, our communities will be sustainable by default as well as centers of justice for all the inhabitants of our one beautiful home, earth.


Advisor: Heather Burns