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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Report Release: Kaua'i Community Indicators Report 2008

In Aloha Analytics, Brad Parsons summarizes the 2008 Kaua'i Community Indicators Report (PDF) released last month.

The report, put together by the Kaua`i Planning & Action Alliance, has 57 indicators in 7 sections, and was intentionally created to measure progress toward the community vision developed in the Kaua'i General Plan 2000. I like how they begin the document with this quote:

The future does not just happen to us. We, ourselves, create it by what we do and what we fail to do. It is we who are making tomorrow what tomorrow will be. For that reason, futurists think not so much in terms of predicting the future, as in terms of trying to decide, wisely, what we want the future to be.
– Edward Cornish, Editor, The Futurist magazine

The Foreword says:

This 2008 report, Measuring What Matters for Kaua`i, is the second study of Kaua`i community indicators. It tracks 57 indicators that explore the quality of life on the island, the strength of Kaua`i’s economy and the health of its environment. The report was created to provide qualitative and quantitative information on important facets of Kaua`i for those who make decisions about policies and the allocation of resources that affect the lives of residents and the `aina.

(I looked up the term 'aina and it refers to the earth or the land.)

Each indicator has a short statement describing the trend, a narrative section on Description and Relevance, another narrative section describing How is Kaua'i Doing?, a table, an Indicator Chart (or two), and sometimes a Status Chart. The last two were of most interest to me -- sometimes they compare themselves to themselves over time with a trend line chart, and then add a second chart (the Status Chart or a second Indicator Chart) to explore the same indicator from a slightly different angle.

Sources for the data are included, usually in the table section, and often include a web link for more information.

The report is strong on analysis and depth of data. My only regret is that it could be prettier -- more visually inviting to the reader. Something of the grace and natural beauty found here. Instead, this is a 112-page manual for the serious wonk, and it's a strong addition to the community indicators field. Take a look.


  1. Nice blog you have. I thought the Kaua'i Community Indicators report was pretty good too. The "serious wonk" who worked with that data was Ken Stokes. His blog is here:

  2. (grin) "Serious wonk" is high praise around here. Thanks for the link to Ken's blog -- very nice. I highly recommend it to others interested in sustainability -- clear, readable, and full of pithy one-liners I'm going to have to borrow.