Sustainable economic development at the local level could be a common ground for citizens and a arena for effective civic innovation across the United States. To realize this potential, local economic and political institutions must shift approaches from "social engineering" to "social Movement". That is: rely less on the efforts of the few in formal positions of leadership, in favor of a more inclusive, generative collaboration among stakeholders. How does this take place? New York's Catskill Mountains and Mid-Hudson Valley form the study region. Qualitative, naturalistics, interview-based research compares and contrasts two non-traditional development agencies - the Catskill Mountain Foundation and Watershed Agricultural Council - and a local government, in Marbletown, that has been painstakingly redesigned over more than ten years to incorporate a wide range of citizen inputs and engagement. Easch community aspires to sustainable development, has achieved significant results, and now faces new challenges in maintaining participation to avoid fostering dependency.

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Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Public Administration

Everett, M. A. (2006, January 12). From Social Engineering to Social Movement: power sharing in community change in New York’s Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains. Retrieved from