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"An indicator is something that helps
you understand where you are, which way you are going and how far you
are from where you want to be"
Maureen Hart, Guide to Sustainable Community Indicators, May 1995
This section offers a variety of tools and resources to guide you through a community assessment. The following topic areas provide a good framework for designing your Community Assessment.
Involving the Community offers tips on how to organize a process to get the community involved and keep them involved. Much of the initial work revolves around getting the process organized and identifying the stakeholders. Powerful tools for getting the community involved such as The Margolis Wheel, Sacred Places/Sacred Views and Create A Collective Time Line are described in this section by Yellow Wood Associates Inc.
Mapping provides selected sources for mapping and geographic needs . Finding a good base map on which information can be displayed is an important first step.
Taking Inventory is the core of the community assessment process. This section identifies the data that might be used in the assessment process and links the user to the relevant data sources.
Inventory topics include:
Natural Resources which should be protected such as unique habitats, wetlands, drinking water sources, rivers, lakes and streams, and other sensitive environmental features.
Cultural Resources And Recreational Facilities which contribute to the uniqueness of the community or support tourism.
Public Facilities which contribute to the protection of human health and the environment such as solid waste, water treatment, and wastewater facilities.
Problem Areas which may pose a risk to environmental quality or human health.
Historic Land Use patterns which have influenced growth and development in the community.
Social, Demographic, & Economic Characteristics which are identified for making planning decisions and determining the impacts of planning decision making.
Environmental Regulations And Policies In The Community are identified to determine if they are sufficient to safeguard the community and to identify new or amended regulations or policies that might be needed in the community.
Human Health includes becoming aware of environmental risks and factors within your community and learning how to reduce your personal and your family's exposure to these risks.
Conducting an inventory of your community is a big undertaking. Upon completion of your Community Assessment, you will have accumulated a large amount of information that reflects the community's existing conditions. Some of that information will be selected for use as future indicators, answering the questions "Where Are We Going?" and "Where Do We Want To Be?". Use indicators to initiate efforts to measure and guide community sustainability. Good indicators can be valid signs for sustainability or symptoms of distress. Indicators help interpret the information collected for trends, growth rates, problem areas and available resources. Interested?
Financial Tools Click here for Financial tools and alternative approaches for funding Green Communities activities.