, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 143-153

Measuring community sustainability: exploring the intersection of the built environment & social capital with a participatory case study

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Abstract

Municipalities all over the globe seek to evaluate the sustainability of their communities and this process requires an interdisciplinary perspective. Walkability and social capital are important measures of sustainable communities that are not necessarily considered together in measurement schemes. Through a community-based case study, the following article examines the relationship between select measures of social capital and self-perceived walkability. Descriptive statistics demonstrated that higher levels of social capital existed in more walkable communities. More sophisticated analysis further supported this association. A community index was created from responses to questions about participating in civic engagement activities such as donating blood, attending a committee meeting or public hearing, interacting with individuals in various neighborhoods, and contributing to a community project. A trust index was also created with answers to survey questions about general trust and trust of neighbors and other members of communities. Multilevel models demonstrated that higher levels of walkability were associated with higher levels of participation in community activities, even after controlling for socio-demographic factors. Similar patterns were found for the trust index where higher levels of walkability were positively associated with positive responses to a variety of trust questions. Implications for sustainable communities policy and management are suggested.