Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way to measure what’s important to us as a community and then work together to improve those qualities in some sort of quantitative way? That’s a strategy that forward-thinking cities all over the country have been working on in order to improve the overall quality of their communities. And Spokane is one of them.

For the past two years, an effort called Community Indicators led by EWU’s Patrick Jones has been working hard to figure what we should measure in our county and how we should measure it. The goal was to find things that could be measured; the next step was to prioritize them. I had the pleasure of serving on the Environmental Task Force led by Patty Gates, Executive Director of New Priorities Foundation. We came up with a list of things that all could be quantified fairly easily from water quality, alternatives to automobiles and waste generation, to carbon footprints.

In June all the area leaders who had worked on the various task forces on the indicators project got together in the next phase of the project called Priority Spokane. All of us had a chance to vote on priorities we had come up with from different groupings ranging from business, education, public safety, health, and the environment and more. Of all the priorities, one received an overwhelming amount of votes more than doubling the tally of the next priority. That priority was educational attainment.

It makes sense. When more of our citizens receive high school or college degrees the whole community benefits in a multitude of ways. Higher salaries boost our economy. A decrease in poverty lowers crime. Less crime results in lower public safety costs. Voters felt that educational attainment was the magic bullet that could address a lot of problems in our community.

The next step is bringing together the general public, local governments, nonprofits and businesses to see if we can work on these priorities. For me, the general public is key to the process. What priorities would you have chosen? What indicators do you think are important? Take a moment to check outhttp://www.communityindicators.ewu.edu.

Jon Snyder, Editor-in-chief
editor@outtheremonthly.ziplinestaging.com