Wednesday, February 07, 2007

People Power to Meet Community Challenges

"Americans are largely optimistic about the futures of their communities and stand ready to help make them better places in which to live."

Those words introduce a report from the Pew Partnership, based on a survey done about three years ago. The report noted a number of challenges that American communities face, such as: hunger; homelessness; less than complete adult literacy; and poor educational performance.

Based on the survey data, the report revealed that many Americans already address these issues, through volunteering for example; and it identified an "enormous amount of latent good will on the part of the public." In fact, it concluded that "there are huge numbers of people who are willing to lend a hand if they can be convinced that hunger, illiteracy, inadequate housing, poor public education, and neighborhood safety pose significant concerns for the communities in which they live."

Wilder Research, through Twin Cities Compass, is developing a means for residents throughout our region to stay on top of the major issues that our communities face. We hope that, by providing everyone the ability to understand these issues, we will offer them the basis to act out their "good will" in whatever ways they consider most appropriate for their own situations.

Many partners have joined us, and we hope to engage even more during 2007. (In fact, if you know of a group or organization that would like to hear about our work, please let us know.)

A few more, selected findings from the Pew report - related to the interest and willingness of the public to pitch in to address important community challenges:

* Almost 9 out of 10 of the survey respondents indicated that they already donate, or would be willing to donate if they had the opportunity: clothing; food; or money to a local charity.

* 70% of respondents reported they would be willing to donate supplies to a local school, or are already doing so.

* Almost 2 of 3 respondents would be willing to do one or more of the following (or they already do so): help an adult or child learn to read; deliver food to people who cannot get out of their homes; assist in mentoring a child.

These numbers are high. Certainly, not everyone will have the time and ability to carry out the charitable work mentioned above, even though they might truly intend to do so. However, even if only half of these people focus their attention on community challenges at any one time, that's a lot of people power! We hope to nurture and support this people power, in collaboration with other partners throughout the region. Let's see what we can do!

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