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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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

New Indicators Report Underway in Issaquah, WA

The City of Issaquah (located just east of Seattle) has launched a new Issaquah Sustainable City Indicators project. The City convened a panel of community leaders they called the "Sustainability Sounding Board" with the charge to "help weigh the interconnected issues of sustainability and provide recommendations on ways to measure progress toward sustainability in our community."

The Board has issued its report, available in PDF format here. They call on the City to measure a set of sustainability indicators to assist in planning and policy-making and to educate the community. The ChamberPost blog says that:

The City's Resource Conservation Office (RCO), along with staff from Planning and Economic Development, will now set tangible goals for each of these indicators, as well as collect the data needed to actually measure Issaquah's progress. The City's first "report card" is scheduled to be released a year from now.

The report is of considerable interest, as it explains the process and the reasoning the group used in deciding which indicators to measure. I like what the report says:

The Sounding Board recognizes that our work is a starting point to a more ambitious goal of taking Issaquah’s sustainability leadership to a higher level. The intent of this project was to establish a set of measures to track what matters to Issaquah – to measure progress towards a sustainable vision. However, the important next step is to use the tool to communicate and motivate success. Putting our recommendations into action requires additional work with community partners to further refine the indicators and collect data, establish benchmarks and goals, communicate progress, and inspire action across the Issaquah community. Specifically, taking our recommendations forward involves:

Refining some indicators; beginning data collection. Several of the recommended indicators will need further refinement with the help of community partners to design the most meaningful metrics, as well as to acquire the necessary data. In many cases, data are already available. In others, new work to collect data will be needed in order to effectively track progress.

Reporting and communicating sustainability progress regularly. Communicating sustainability progress across city departments, with the City Council, and to the broader community on a regular basis is critical to spreading awareness, creating community collaboration, and driving positive change.

Take a look! I'm really looking forward to their first indicators report sometime next year.

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