Study Circles

The Natural Step for Communities: How Cities and Towns Can Change to Sustainable Practices by Sarah James and Torbjorn Lahti provides inspiring examples of communities that have made dramatic changes toward sustainability, and explains how others can emulate their success.

The objectives of The Natural Step study circles are:

  • To build a network or community of people conversant in the area of sustainability
  • To become familiar with The Natural Step framework and have examples for a base of communication with others
  • To have an opportunity to learn about our community so that we can lay a foundation for future action.
  • To be motivated to engage in actions personally and with others to move toward a sustainable future

Study circles are often groups of 8-12 people that meet weekly for an hour and a half for eight weeks to share ideas and learn from each other. A study circle format allows you to better understand the different perspectives and approaches to the complexity of sustainability. In addition, this study circle is intended to be a supportive learning experience, so please ask questions of clarification and share insights with one another. Whether you agree or disagree, you will have an opportunity to talk about an important subject with others who share your concerns, and hopefully have fun along the way!

How to start a study circle

PSI is not currently offering study circles, but you are welcome to download the study circle guide, purchase the book, and gather friends to read and discuss it. Contact us at for over the phone advice on getting started. The Natural Step for Communities: How Cities and Towns Can Change to Sustainable Practices by Sarah James and Torbjorn Lahti is available at River Run Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH.

Who Can Hold a Study Circle?

Study circles are for everyone who cares about their community. Join a Seacoast NH and nearby Maine grassroots effort to sustain and revitalize our community.

What to Expect

  • A study guide for the book, downloadable at this website on the "Study Guide" page, used with success in groups around the world.
  • To learn about the four Sustainability Objectives used in the Natural Step:
    1. Reduce wasteful dependence upon fossil fuels, underground metals and minerals.
    2. Reduce wasteful dependence upon chemicals and unnatural substances.
    3. Reduce encroachment upon nature.
    4. Meet human needs fairly and efficiently.
  • Assigned chapters to read, and some local research to do, on these topics:
    • Renewable energy
    • Ecological housing
    • Green business
    • Green buildings
    • Ecological education
    • Eco-economic development
    • Protecting biodiversity
    • Alternatives to fossil-fueled vehicles
    • Dealing with waste
    • Sustainable agriculture
    • Community change processes
  • Reading about and discussing real world examples from Sweden and the USA
  • Good ideas for projects we can initiate in the Seacoast will likely come out of our discussions
  • A volunteer facilitator will:
    • Keep the meetings on track
    • Encourage respect and open dialog
    • Help participants do further research


Additional Info

Mailing List: Interested in upcoming Piscataqua Sustainability Initiative events? Sign up for our email newsletter, and we'll send you news about getting connected with others in the Seacoast who care about sustainability too.

To sign up, please send an email to