Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

The Jacksonville Community Council (JCCI) understands indicators and community change, with more than 25 years of producing the annual Quality of Life Progress Report for Jacksonville and the Northeast Florida region, and two decades of helping other communities develop their own sustainable indicators projects. JCCI consultants give you the information you need to measure progress, identify priorities for action, and assess results.

I'd like to talk with you personally about how we can help. E-mail me at
ben@jcci.org, call (904) 396-3052, or visit CommunityWorks for more information. From San Antonio to Siberia, we're ready and willing to assist.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Data on Religions

One interesting data source available is from the The Association of Religion Data Archives. Data sets available include religious affiliation in one of 149 religious bodies at county-level specifics. Survey information is also available on religious beliefs, as well as demographic shifts over time, the Baylor Religion Survey, QuickStats, national profiles from the World Values Survey, and more.

Links on the site take you to a number of research sites, including the Hartford Institute for Religion Research (http://hirr.hartsem.edu/) and the National Study of Youth and Religion (http://www.youthandreligion.org/), as well as the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (http://pewforum.org/).

Why is this data useful? ChildTrends points out in its survey on religiosity that religion impacts society and child well-being in a number of ways. Certainly religion impacts public life and public policy. A number of studies have looked at religion and health, and religious beliefs and perceptions of quality of life.

In addition, faith institutions are arguably a sizable part of the social capital of a community and play a major role in its social infrastructure.

And yet religion or religous beliefs don't usually appear in community indicators projects. At least I don't know of one that includes religion or faith institutions in its measurement set. Is there a good reason for excluding religion from community indicator projects? Do you know of a community that includes it?

(Just for fun, I looked at a listing of statistical resources for the state of Utah, in which [of all states] religion has an unabashedly and undeniably significant impact on the community. Of the resources listed, religion shows up in global compendiums of international statistics, and even in a national historical document, but doesn't appear as a subject listing in any state or local data profiles. Interesting.)

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