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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Building Together Local Indicators for Societal Progress

I'm sitting at another airport today, this time on my way to France. I'm speaking at a conference with the title (translated into English) of "Building Together Local Indicators for Societal Progress." It's being held in Rennes, 30-31 October 2008. Get the programme by clicking this link

The purpose of the international conference is "to share national and international experiences concerning the construction of local indicators of societal progress and well-being." It's a follow-up to the 2006 conference PEKEA sponsored in Rennes, which was great fun (and introduced me to the delights of buckwheat crepes stuffed with ham and different cheeses.) Two years ago, they were exploring the idea of measuring indicators of social progress on a regional level; the depth of expertise on this year's agenda gives a strong indication of the progress they've made.

As time, internet access, and my ability to follow along permit (not all sessions will be translated into English, and my French is only marginally better than it was in 2006 -- that is to say, I know how to order hot chocolate in a bakery) -- as I was saying, as time permits I'll keep you updated on what happens during this conference.

There are some amazing things happening in the field of community indicators, and it's quickly becoming apparent that the global movement towards data democratization is gathering steam. What does this mean for local community indicator projects? The way we did things 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, is not good enough. Technology has changed. Data availability has improved. The art and science of community indicators is progressing in hundreds of communities on a global basis. We need to be learning from another, and connecting with each other, in order to best serve the communities in which we work.

I'd love your thoughts, comments, and questions over the next few days. In the meantime, here's more information about the conference (taken from the above link):

In the agenda : exchange of knowledge between elected representatives, those in charge of public policies, the members of local assemblies, citizens and academics, all concerned with the joint preparation and implementation of local public policies.

The organisation of this conference is scheduled within the framework of the research programme backed by the Region of Brittany (ISBET-Indicateurs Sociétaux de Bien Etre Territorialisés) , as a follow-up to the workshop-seminar organised by PEKEA in 2006.

The programme of this 2006 seminar may be displayed by cliquing here or downloaded in a Format.doc. A strong similarity then appeared with the research programme undertaken by the Council of Europe on the measurement of social cohesion. The Council of Europe has now come alongside us in this conference. In 2007, the OECD also moved closer to this programme and its perspectives, as stated in the « Istanbul Declaration ». This conference should enable progress towards the production of guidelines at the service of all interested parties.

This objective is also shared by the group FAIR (Forum pour d’Autres Indicateurs de Richesses) a recently set up group to organise on a new basis discussions about the topic of « wealth » – discussions launched in France ten years ago - ; the new group has just emerged when the French Government asked a group of international experts to find out an alternative indicator to GDP which could give a better account of the improvement of societal and environmental well-being in France.

Which types of societal progress indicators are relevant? How can citizens be involved in their construction? How can local characteristics be taken into account? All of these questions lie at the heart of the discussions at this conference.


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