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CASE STUDIES OF SUSTAINABLE LIVING IN NORTHEAST MINNESOTA

Background:
In 2000 Ways of Wisdom submitted a proposal to the Northeast Minnesota Sustainable Development Partnership to fund a study of families in this area who were living sustainable lifestyles. The Partnership funded this proposal and Ways of Wisdom is currently completing work on this study. We have been working with an advisory team from the University of Minnesota - Duluth who is advising us on this project.

The study involves identifying ten families in rural Northeast Minnesota who are living a sustainable lifestyle and then conducting onsite interviews with each of them. The site visits consist of photographs and audio recordings of the interviews. From the ten families, five were selected for additional interviews and video recordings of key elements of their lifestyle. The case studies are focusing on how these families cope with such issues as food, energy, shelter, finances, community, conservation, transportation, and waste disposal. The case studies not only examine how and why these individual families are living sustainably but also compare similarities and differences between them. The candidate families included in this study are those that earn a portion of their income from resources on their own property, have an ethic of stewardship, employ appropriate technologies, practice self-reliance, and cooperate with others in their community.

Definition of Sustainable Living
Ways of Wisdom has developed a definition of sustainable living for the purposes of this study.

"Sustainable living is a lifestyle that harmonizes both human and environmental ecologies through appropriate technologies, cooperative economics, and individual resourcefulness. It is a deliberate lifestyle that is characterized by personal responsibility, self-reliance, service to others, and a mindful spiritual life. In addition, sustainable living is an ethic of stewardship for the environment and the economy where today's needs are balanced with the needs of future generations of life on the Earth".

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