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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, September 15, 2010

Community Indicators Growing Up

This January we released our 25th annual edition of our signature community indicators project. We've launched an interactive indicators portal allowing us to update indicators as quickly as the data become available. We also celebrated the fifth anniversary of our annual community indicators report focused on racial and ethnic disparities.

At the same time, we got assistance from a talented graphics designer to transform our model for community change into something hopefully more understandable (and more friendly!) And we began using twitter as a way of communicating news and updates about community indicators, rather than blog posts (you can read the news feeds and the twitter feeds on the right-hand column of this blog.)

This past summer has felt like a summer of transformation in the community indicators world -- a sense that the movement is growing up. You can see what I'm talking about at the new website for the Community Indicators Consortium. You can follow along on the Facebook pages for The State of the USA project. You can see the exciting developments in graphic design, data sharing, mapping technologies, and all of the other amazing tools exploding onto the data-sharing scene.

So as we work with communities now on creating and sustaining community indicators projects today, the conversations are different than they used to be. The concern is not about whether communities need good data to make responsible decisions (of course they do.) The questions are not about where to find good, reliable data (we're choking in it!) The conversations don't even focus as much on how data can be displayed or used effectively (hundreds of excellent examples are a Google search away.)

We're circling around to conversations about community engagement, re-invigorating local democracy, and making public participation in community visioning both meaningful and effective.

We're having conversations about measuring the effectiveness of your community indicators project, and knowing whether or not your community indicators project is making a difference.

Those are, I think, important conversations to have. And with these thoughts, the focus of this blog will shift slightly -- from updating you on community indicators news, conferences, job openings, events, and report releases (you'll get more of that on the Community Indicators Consortium and on Twitter) to conversations and articles about the field.

And I'm interested in your input as well into what we need to be talking about as the movement proceeds.

Thanks for your time and attention and for being a loyal reader of this blog for the past three years!

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