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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Political Leadership and Sustainability

I read an interesting blog post this morning from Joe Swanson, who's apparently a candidate for political office in Wisconsin. I am not in Wisconsin, and do not publicly endorse candidates, and have never met Joe. I'm sharing with you what he wrote because of the clear way in which he outlined the need for community-based indicators of sustainability as a key influence in policy-making and political decisions.

In a post called simply "Sustainable Community", Joe wrote:

If we are to change the outcome of governmental process we must find a way to introduce logical and factual data into each and every decision. The process would need to be governed by criteria/indicator developed locally. This process would remove political consideration from the decision making process. It would evaluate decisions concerning communities by checking each decision against criteria designed by the community to best utilize human and natural resources lessening the burden on infrastructure and environment. This holistic approach would help insure that our communities remain sustainable, therefore insuring the economic, environmental, and human viability of our region.

He then defines "sustainability" for his readership as follows:

Sustainable development is often misinterpreted as focusing solely on environmental issues. In reality, it is a much broader concept as sustainble development policies encompass three general policy areas: economic, environmental and social. In support of this, several United Nations texts, most recently the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, refer to the “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars” of sustainable development as economic development, social development, and environmental protection.

He also identifies fourteen steps in developing community indicators of sustainability. His list demonstrates a thoughtfulness in including a broad set of quality-of-life indicators in understanding trends in the community.

In all, it's a pretty good argument for locally-developed community indicators as necessary resources for public decision-making. Do your elected leadership feel the same way?


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