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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, February 28, 2008

Santa Fe Trends

Today I had a chance to speak with Reed Liming, the author/creator of Santa Fe Trends. This is a document he's put together for the past 11 years as part of the city's long-range planning efforts, and while it's not quite a full community indicators project, there are some interesting aspects of how he presents data that I think are worth pointing out.

First of all, I like what he says about data in the introduction. We've talked about statistical illiteracy before, and it's important to recognize the issue in your intended audience. Here's what the introduction says:

A Word About Data: Numbers and statistics can be very useful, but they can also seem bewildering. While charts and graphs cannot explain the essence of a city as experienced by its citizens and visitors, numbers and data do provide us with insights that are important in setting public policy. Readers can look at the trends of the various topics and develop a better knowledge of how well the city functions and performs.

Secondly, he includes a map of the area, showing both what is and what is not included within city limits. I like that approach, and think I'll copy it for my next approach. (Though what the good people of Jacksonville are going to do with a map of Santa Fe is a bit of a puzzlement ....)

The third thing I liked was the conversational style in which the data are presented. The tone strikes me as just right -- not too detailed, nor too dumbed-down, the report feels like the reader is being helped to understand the information presented without being talked down to.

Overall, I thought this report had some interesting pieces that readers of this blog may want to pay attention to.


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