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, October 7, 2010

Engaging Dialogue about Community Indicators

We had a great session talking about community indicators at the Community Matters '10 Conference in Denver yesterday. Delia Clark facilitated a panel discussion with Rhonda Phillips, Shanna Ratner, and me as we talked about why community indicators were important and how to use them in creating sustainable community change. While we were talking, highlights of the panel discussion were captured on flipcharts as shown below:





The fun part was that we asked the group for their questions before we started speaking, and filled two flip chart pages with questions. After the short (15 minutes each) presentations we provided, we encouraged the session participants to form small groups and talk with each other about community indicators. They reported out their comments and questions, and we turned the session into open dialogue around indicators. At the end, the panelists each got five minutes to respond to any questions that remained unanswered from the opening list.

All in all, it was a good example of using a civic engagement process to discuss the importance of using community indicators in civic engagement processes.  Looking forward to using similar processes in other conference sessions. Special thanks to Delia Clark for the facilitation that made it all happen.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Visioning, Indicators, and Mariachi Bands

One of the breakout groups for SA2020
I was reflecting this week on the world of community indicators and how widely they're being used now. This past weekend I was in San Antonio to help launch their community visioning effort. A thousand people came together to talk about what challenges the community is facing, what is good about the community that needs to be preserved or maintained, and what the opportunities are for improvement or change in the next 10 years. From that vision, we will draw indicators, set targets, and move into community action. One of the more exciting aspects of the SA2020 process has been the integration of social and online media into the conversation, with live web-streaming of the launch event, over 2200 web-based comments during the live feed, and strong online comment captures, including on the website (SA2020.org), Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

This month also provides the opportunity to celebrate World Statistics Day on 20/10/2010 (that's October 20, 2010, for those of us who put the month first in our dating system.)

Next week I get to join Rhonda Phillips and Shanna Ratner in a discussion of community indicators and measuring progress as part of the CommunityMatters '10 Conference in Denver, Colorado.

And we have just celebrated the 35th anniversary of my organization, JCCI (Jacksonville Community Council Inc.), along with the 25th anniversary of our Quality of Life Progress Report, 10th anniversary of JCCI Forward, and 5th anniversary of our Race Relations Progress Report.

This has been a week to think about how communities can transform through the action of good people working together on a shared concern, and how data, properly used, can bring those people together in a common understanding of the issues at hand.  And as our local government (along with many, many others) has struggled with questions of how to prioritize spending in an era of increasing demand and shrinking resources, it's sobering to reflect on where we might be without community indicators to help make the really hard decisions.

I hope to have good notes to share with you from the Community Matters conference (I'll let you know when I know the hashtag for the event -- CM10 is being used right now for the Chicago marathon, which I am not participating in this year.) And keep an eye out on the #SA2020 conversations -- the work is just beginning to create community-defined indicators.

And yes, the SA2020 launch event included both a marching band to welcome people into the facility and a youth mariachi band to serenade them once inside. Tremendous experiences, wonderful energy levels, and an astounding city.

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