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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, March 2, 2009

NAPC Conference: Keepin' It Weird in Austin, Texas

I'm in Austin, Texas today for the 2009 Conference of the National Association of Planning Councils (NAPC). I'm looking forward to some pretty exciting sessions, and will be sharing some tidbits here as the conference goes along.

I've mentioned NAPC before, but here's a couple of things you ought to know about the organization:

  • Planning councils are in to measuring community indicators in a big way. The Reno conference that launched the Community Indicators Consortium was co-sponsored by NAPC, and they have held joint conferences with CIC to help share the importance of measuring trends at the local level.
  • Planning councils are action-oriented kinds of organizations. They use information to inform policy, shape decision-making, implement programs, and make life better for people in the communities they serve.
  • Planning councils are struggling. People (governments, philanthropic organizations, individuals) like to fund direct service. Big-picture stuff is a harder sell -- but it's the big picture that makes the direct service work work. Figuring out what needs doing, what's working, what's not working, and where the resources need to be targeted is even more critical in times of resource scarcity.

OK, I'm off my soapbox now. If you're working for a planning council, good for you. If not, go support your local planning council. And if your community no longer has one -- if budget crunches and active neglect has forced the planning council to close its doors or morph into just a direct service organization -- now would be a really good time to try to bring it back.


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