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, www.tccompass.org, 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.

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