Masters Thesis

Social opportunities and obstacles to sustainable rural community development : McCloud, California’s experience with Nestle Waters North America

This thesis explores the role of community capacity in sustainable rural community development. Community development in the United States has typically followed an economic model founded on the assumption that economic growth will positively affect overall community welfare. I argue that this model may result in environmental degradation and social harm. I explore an alternate approach to sustainable community development, one based on the ideas of community capacity and social capital. I explore these ideas through a case study of McCloud, California, a former timber company town located in the north central part of the state. In recent years the residents of McCloud have sought to sustainably develop their economy and their community. This effort included exploring and eventually rejecting the privatization and commodification of water through a 100-year contract with Nestle Waters North America. Current efforts in McCloud to foster sustainable development reflect the contemporary localization movement and efforts to build community capacity and social capital. I utilize a community capacity cycle model to identify and understand McCloud’s community capacity in order to help uncover the social barriers and opportunities for McCloud’s sustainable community development.