What a jam-packed two days I just had with the intelligent and devoted people of the Community Indicators Consortium (CIC). It was such a pleasure to surround myself with people representing their organizations who are working towards improving their communities through different data indicators nation-wide and internationally. This is not an exact science for sure! Presenters and audience members shared many accounts of difficulties and successes that they have experienced while finagling their way to understanding the complexities of what their communities need. In this blog post I am going to share with you some of the ideas that resonated with me, shook up my perspective and reassured me.
On the first morning the day began with opening remarks from Chicago’s very own Health Commissioner, Bechara Choucair. He was very excited to announce the success that the city has been having in many different domains of well being. They had been popping up fruit and vegetable stands in areas without food security and those carts were giving jobs to people who were greatly in need of a job. Plus he was proud to brag about the city’s 300 miles of bike paths, 35 of which are protected. Plus, they have implemented an exciting bike share program that makes traveling by bike even easier. What really resonated with me was their use of indicator data to track the successes of these projects. While he said the data had not gone public yet, they were seeing positive statistics coming in from their many health programs. This emphasized the importance of SCOPE’s upcoming Community Report card because this tool will allow Sarasotans to track their progress and success.
It was an honor to meet Ben Warner, the President and CEO of Jacksonville Community Council Inc. (JCCI). He talked about the successes that they have had in their recent engagement campaign in Jax2025 in which residents are encouraged to “Imagine it, Build it, Reach it” to develop their ideal Jacksonville in 2025. What shook up my perspective was JCCI’s 2012 Quality of Life Progress Report. The utter simplicity of their progress report will certainly provide insight on the design of SCOPE’s Community Report Card. I love the way the design shows in a very direct way, how the community is performing. Once a reader becomes invested in one of the indicators, they can then download the more in depth reports.
A frequent theme that many presenters relayed was the importance of constantly keeping an open ear to residents. In conjunction with that thought, people reiterated that data was useless on its own. Thus data has to be collected, made available and talked about. I felt reassured by SCOPE’s past engagements through community conversations and the High Tech High Touch workshops. While the Community Report Card is being synthesized, SCOPE will have open ears to the voice of Sarasota County residents.