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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Clay County Florida Launches New Indicators Project

Clay County, Florida, is developing its community indicators project. They began by launching a community survey to develop a scope for community visioning efforts, to be followed by a more formal visioning process and then indicators to measure progress towards that vision.

The survey was provided through two local newspapers,My Clay Sun and Clay Today, as well as on a new website,

Ray Avery, chair of the citizen's committee behind the process, had this to say:

“I believe we are at a critical time in the life of Clay County,” said Ray Avery, chair of the Clay Quality Council Steering Committee. “I believe it is time for our citizens to determine a shared vision for our future and develop the tools to track our progress. The development of our own Clay County Quality of Life Indicators is a first step to develop the baseline from which to measure our progress toward the vision we set. ...

“I am still learning about this program but from all I have read, this approach makes good common sense and I am very excited about the prospect of our entire community including business leaders, community leaders, faith groups, civic organizations, educators, environmentalist and residents from all walks of life in Clay County coming together to establish a vision for the future and establishing indicators to measure our progress. For this to be an ongoing success it is essential that our entire community participate.”

More about the project is available here, here, and here.

I was also interested in reading the responses to this blog article about the survey -- the sponsors were up front about where the money was coming from to support the effort, and this seems to raise suspicion among some residents.

Which leads me to my question for this group -- community work costs money. How do you create financially sustainable community indicators projects while maintaining both actual impartiality and the perception of absolute integrity in the process?

In Jacksonville, potential contributors are vetted against a series of criteria before being allowed to give money to the project, but the success of this effort may be driven in part by a trusted, proven process with a lengthy community history before the first project sponsors were brought on board to defray rising costs. How do you launch an effort which has to establish its reputation while raising funds to cover its costs?


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