CIC’s new volume, Community Quality-of-Life Indicators – Best Cases VIII (2020) is now available for purchase on the Springer website.
The volume opens auspiciously with a guide on Creating and Sustaining Community Indicators Projects: From Engagement to Results (Stevens, et al.) that analyzes various community indicators projects to extract the elements that made them impactful, recognizing that project sustainability is not about self-preservation but maintaining the capacity to serve and inspire the community for as long as improvements are needed and to continue to monitor over time.
The rapid growth of the community indicator field and the contributions to community wellbeing across the globe provide a hopeful backdrop to the remainder of the book that details many of the “how to” aspects of the field as well as lessons learned born out of trials and applications. Chapters 2 and 3 scope the geographic levels at which to present data. In Goldilocks Data-Connecting Community Indicators to Program Evaluation and Everything in Between, Ridzi engages in a discussion of the nested scales at which data can be used and the impact data have at each of those scales while Wascalus and Wolter (Strategies for Expanding Indicator Profiles to Small Rural Geographies) examine the challenges of adapting data for small area geographies to rural areas. Indices take a large amount of data to help uncover and reveal complex, “wicked” problems at the chosen scale. In Chapters 4 and 5, O’Connell et al. (Measuring the Dream for an Equitable and Sustainable Future) tackles racial inequities by turning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s call for racial equality and economic justice into an indicator framework to assess America’s realization of prosperity and equality. After examining the appropriate scales at which interventions can move the needle, Crawford and Ridzi (Meaningful, Manageable, and Moveable: Lessons Learned from Building a Local Poverty Index) describe how a poverty index came to be to address regional disparities and what infrastructure is needed for monitoring efforts to alleviate one of the worst rates of poverty in the US. Similarly in Chapter 6, Summers (The Development of DISC (presents the Decision Integration for Strong Communities (DISC) application, a “dashboard” of community characteristics to help communities assess how resilient they are and find information to encourage smart growth planning. In case studies from Australia, Canada and the United States (Chapters 7 and 8), we are treated to the rationale for, as well as the development and implementation of, diverse community indicators projects. Davern et al. (Indicators Supporting Public Health, Partnership, Liveability and Integrated Planning Practice: The Case Study of the Cardinia Shire Growth Area in Melbourne, Australia) offer an example of indicator application in community and public health planning within a local government in Cardinia, a suburb of Melbourne. In Five Conditions Conducive to Sustainability Plans and Measurements, Powell contrasted the efforts of three Northern communities in the US and Canada and the conditions for success to establish indicators to track sustainability planning. Brutschy et al. (Leveraging Data for Meaningful Improvements: How Credible Data Enables Partnership Alignment to Achieve Well-Being at the Population Level) in Chapter 9 explores the conditions and attributes needed to successfully collect and leverage community data for positive impact, using a couple of data-supported initiatives as examples while Connell et al. (Data Parties: Giving the Community Tools to Use East Metro Pulse Survey Data) in Chapter 10 focuses on data as a tool to engage with community members and data practitioners and expand the use of existing data sets. In the final Chapter 11, from outside the field of community indicators, Abraham (Data-Driven Decision Making and Community Indicators: Towards an Integration of DDDM in Community Development) makes the argument that community indicators will improve the planning field’s need for stronger reliance on both evidence and community participation.
Individually, these chapters support many of the practices outlined in this introductory chapter. Taken together they create a tapestry of practices, tools or exemplars, that represent the relevance and strength of today’s community indicators universe