Sep 9, 2010

Community Indicators work in Truckee Meadows, NV

[cross-posted to our Sustainable Cities blog]

The Community Indicators Consortium has been hosting a series of webinars about community indicators and performance measures. The overall arc has been about how some local governments have successfully integrated community indicator work into how they measure their own performance, which is of interest to us because we hope to achieve the same with b-Sustainable. I've listened to the first two and would recommend them to anyone else interested in this kind of work; they've also been kind enough to make recordings available online.

Yesterday's was a case study from Truckee Meadows Tomorrow. I took some notes, which reflect my own biases and interests but may be worth sharing:

  • The big impetus for starting their indicator work was a 1990s forecast of enormous population growth for the region - not unlike what PSRC is supposed to be preparing us for here
  • The first round of indicator development was done by giving participants monopoly money to "buy" indicators with, as a way of prioritising the most valued n indicators. Apparently they don't use that procedure any more, but it sounds better to me than the more standard focus groups they've switched to, because it gives the meekest person in the room as much of a voice as the loudest. I'd be interested to hear why they switched.
  • They're down to 33 indicators now, and even with those they have 10 quality-of-life categories that group things together, and they get feedback that the 10 categories are much easier to get a handle on than the 33 indicators.
  • The categories are: Arts & Cultural Vitality - Civic Engagement - Economic Wellbeing - Education & Lifelong Learning - Enrichment - Health & Wellness - Innovation - Land use & Infrastructure - Natural Environment - Public Wellbeing
  • In the past 5 years, they've made a special effort to reach "unusual suspects" - identifying communities not represented in the earlier focus group work and specifically recruiting them to add input.
  • Washoe County uses the QoL indicators to track its own performance.
  • A lot of the work they do on the basis of these indicators is done by partners of the counties - either volunteerism or compacts with companies -
If this sounds interesting to you, I'd strongly recommend downloading the webinar from their site:,cic-webinars-archive,truckee-meadows-tomorrow-and-washoe-county

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