The issues affordable housing, accessibility to child care are familiar, but determining how much progress is being made in addressing those concerns can be daunting.
That's why the 1999 release of the Yampa Valley Partners' "Community Indicators Project" was so eagerly awaited by local officials.
With information on 50 different statistics relevant to general quality of life issues in Moffat and Routt counties, the report is a resource for community improvement efforts. By providing tools to measure progress, it serves as a guideline to action.
The report, which follows in the footsteps of a 1997 pilot project of the same nature, will be revised every other year, gradually creating a library of data that can help spot key economic and social trends, officials said.
The array of statistical information contained in the reports should enable community activists to band together and take action on issues revealed as problems, Yampa Valley Partners Director Audrey Danner said.
"By documenting this community information, it will be visible, it will be taken before the public," Danner said. "Now, we need to energize the community, show them how an action plan can be developed around one of these indicators."
The indicators fall into three categories social, economic and environmental and cover the spectrum from disease incidence to arrest rates to per capita income levels to air quality.
"We will continue to see how these indicators link and tie in our successes and failures in quality of life issues," said Sue Birch, one of several dozen people from the public and private sectors who have worked as a "policy team" to determine which indicators should be researched and included in the report.
Birch tempered the value of the report itself with a caution that it must be utilized by the community to realize its true potential. "It will take tremendous effort to turn these from vision into action, to use them to monitor our quality of life issues," she said.
At a July 28 luncheon held in Hayden to celebrate the release of the 1999 report, policy team members tried to get the ball moving by identifying a few key issues transportation, affordable housing and children's care and health and by looking at how action plans could be developed around those issues. They identified indicators pertinent to each issue, discussed how multiple indicators could be used to get a more complete picture of the factors at play, and brainstormed about key organizations whose involvement would be important in a community effort to address those issues.
Although representatives from all those organizations named did not serve on the policy team or participate in the Community Indicators Project, people from their various fields did. Those involved with the 1999 report hope that the message about it, and the ways it can be used to facilitate community improvement efforts, will be successfully conveyed by the wide cross-section of people involved in the process.
"These are the leaders, in business, non-profits, local government, the environment, education," project consultant Martin Landers said. "They are coming together and saying these are the things we've measured and, not just that, but these are the issues where we really need to take the bull by the horns. It's about raising awareness, showing how to turn indicators into action."
Anyone interested in picking up a copy of the Yampa Valley Partners Community Indicators Project 1999 Report may find one at the Moffat County commissioners' office or in the reference material at the Craig-Moffat County Library.
You may also find out more about the Community Indicators Project by visiting the Yampa Valley Partners Web site at www.steamboat-chamber. com/html/cip.html.