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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

South Carolina Indicators

Andy Brack reports on South Carolina indicators and says, "A look at statistics about South Carolina can be as discouraging as encouraging."

He begins the article with:

In some areas - - the unemployment rate, child poverty and child deaths - - the state has improved marginally. In other areas, such as overall health care and violent crime, things aren’t better. Two years ago, we offered a look at various statistics to highlight how conventional wisdom about the state - - that it ranks high in things that it should be low in, and low in things it should excel in - - was mostly true.

These numbers are important because politicians could use them as motivation to work on the big problems that impact South Carolinians - - health, education and crime - - instead of fiddling with more marginal, hot-button issues to get elected.

This isn't an in-depth report -- mostly, it's a series of rankings -- but what's interesting about this article is the increasing trend to call for data-based decision making and consistent attention to broad-spectrum trend line monitoring. And that the calls for this kind of attention to indicators comes not from the policy makers but from the community.

Brack concludes his piece by saying, "Bottom line: We can do a lot better, but we need leaders who focus on the big stuff, not specialized issues to help their electability."

Sources for the report can be found here (South Carolina Statehouse Report) and here (South Carolina Indicators Project).

There's an opportunity in these kinds of comments to connect community indicators with policy making in a much more intentional and effective way. Those who are doing well in this area, please pass along your suggestions, either as comments to this post or direct e-mails to me (just click on my profile link) and I'll sum them up in a later post.


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