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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Community Indicators

I'm always excited when I run across new ideas for community indicators, or new ways at getting at interesting information.

The Freakonomics blog suggested we take a look at The Mailman Index of Economic Indicators (yes, I know Mail Carrier has been the preferred term for over a decade, but that's what they called it.) Here's what they have to suggest:

If you live in a neighborhood hard hit by the financial crisis, chances are your mailman is seeing a spike in overdraft letters, collection notices, and overdue utility bills. Another bad sign: more names on fewer mailboxes — a hint that families and friends are doubling up to save money. Your mailman is probably also seeing a drop-off in the number of unsolicited credit card offers as the credit crisis deepens.

A reader of their blog suggests a different economic indicator: availability of parking spaces around neighborhood high schools. His(?) anecdotal observations suggest that fewer students drive their own cars to school during economic downturns, and more drive (and take up all the available spaces, spreading into the surrounding neighborhood and those durn kids should just git off his lawn!)

Keep those innovative suggestions for community indicators coming! (My favorite is still female bicyclists as measures of urban sprawl, safety, public health, and democratization of society ... but pickups and politics was fun as well. I'm sure better ideas are just around the corner.)


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