Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Progress as a Unified Community

Our partners, the Itasca Project, a coalition of business leaders, and Twin Cities Public Television, will air a series in April based on findings from Itasca's Mind the Gap project. Those findings point to disparities between Whites and Persons of Color with respect to education, housing, health and income. On May 8, following the broadcast of the series, Twin Cities Compass will hold a seminar to discuss the implications of these disparities for the future of our region.

To understand those implications, consider three things.

First, the baby boom generation is aging; Boomers will leave the workforce and leave positions of community influence in large numbers over the coming 15 years. Second, Persons of Color increasingly make up the younger population - those who will replace the baby boomers and the generation following the baby boom as the community leaders, managers, workers, parents of the future. Third, the data (which you can see on the Twin Cities Compass web site) show that this growing part of our population is:

More likely to live in poverty
Less likely to graduate from high school
Less likely to own their own home
More likely to suffer from chronic illness

The future for all of us requires that the younger generations in our communities have the skills, knowledge, and resources to maintain high levels of economic productivity and community well-being. Current trends suggest that they will not have such skills, knowledge, and resources to the extent that they deserve and need them.

I encourage you to assess the information and to form your opinion on what should be done. Watch the television series premiering April 6 on channel 2 at 6:00p.m. to learn more about the widening gaps and hear from some of those most affected; look at the facts in Twin Cities Compass; participate in various forums for discussion, come to our seminar on May 8 (find information on the Twin Cities Compass web site.) I think you will conclude that this is a pressing issue for us locally, nationally, and globally.

But let's not just think about it and discuss it. We can't change history, but we can act as a united community to include all of us - young, old, different colors and cultures - in creating the future. We won't just eliminate disparities; we will enrich, improve, and elevate the lives of all of us.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Twin Cities Compass

Has our region become better or worse? What direction are we headed? What can we do to improve? We ask questions like these when we consider volunteering or donating, when we try to vote for the best political candidate, or when we form an opinion about where our tax dollars should go. In fact, we all ask these questions whenever we wonder about what we can do to produce the highest quality of life for the residents of our communities.

To make the region as good as it can be for all of us, we must "KNOW" and "DO". That is, we must first understand who the residents of our region are, and what the major trends are. Then, we must commit to action.

Last month, Wilder Research launched Twin Cities Compass - a new, non-partisan initiative that measures the 7-county Twin Cities region’s well-being with respect to civic engagement, early childhood, economy and workforce, education, health, housing, public safety and transportation. If you go to the web site,, you will find easy-to-access information on these topics, that will enable you to understand (to "know") the major trends affecting the region. Several hundred volunteers, whose names are listed, assisted us to identify the most important measures for understanding trends. You can see those trends displayed for the region, over many years if possible, and for counties and large cities. You can also see comparisons - how our region compares to other regions of the U.S. - in order to develop better understanding of how we are doing in the larger context of our nation and our world.

In addition, the web site contains links to resources, so you can learn how business, government, and nonprofit organizations have attempted to improve their communities; you can learn what seems to work locally and elsewhere.

That's the "KNOW". There is also the "DO".

The group of funders who support and govern this project want the information to be used. Our goal in the next phase of our work is to inspire people from all sectors--government, business, nonprofit and concerned individuals--to get involved in coordinated efforts to address needs. Some organizations have told us that they would like to take the lead on topics like housing, early childhood, and civic engagement. We'll report on their progress in future blogs and newsletters. We hope that as many people as possible use Twin Cities Compass, in large and small ways, to strenghten their efforts to improve education, health care, the economy, our transportation system, and all the aspects of our life that are so important, now and in the future.

If you have suggestions or comments regarding the web site, we welcome them. Feel free to use the "Contact Twin Cities Compass" feature on the web site.