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.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Measuring Community Well-Being

On the blog, Chris Advansun makes an interesting observation about community well-being based on his living experiences in Harlem and Toronto.

After sharing his descriptions of both places, he concludes with the following:

The United Nations’ Human Development Index, widely used to compare and contrast standards of living between countries across the globe, integrates literacy, life expectancy, education and gross domestic product (GDP) into its formula. This is a good start, but still fails to measure certain aspects of well-being, such as those concluded in the Harlem vs. suburbs exercise. How close do citizens feel to their neighbors, how much use do they make of their neighborhood and how interwoven is their community?

Perhaps reducing well-being to one universal formula is impossible, because different populations would disagree with the very indicators upon which the formula is based. Harlem would perhaps value community and open block parties more than the suburbs, which would place privacy and personal security at a higher importance. But at the very least, we must use more diverse indicators to measure and understand well-being. The suburbs may enjoy higher rates of employment, but if they come second to the inner-city on community indicators, who’s better off?

You may want to take a look at what they're trying to build at The founders are trying to create an online social network "to be the platform for individuals, non-profit organizations and socially responsible companies to rethink their role in the world, the urgency of issues facing our planet, and the real ability we have to unite to affect change."

It's one of a number of new attempts to leverage the "Web 2.0" for social change. I'll try to pass along those I run across that seem to have intersection points with community indicators. Please share any others you find as well.


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