Community Vitality : a conversation

Community Vitality

A vital community is one that thrives, not just survives – communities with adaptive qualities and innovative capacities will become the resilient communities in the face of change.Image

(http://www.canadianmanufacturing.com/purchasing-and-procurement/news/study-on-gta-supplier-diversity-released-85304)

The Vitality index (Vt) encompasses the many components that every community has:

Vital space + Dead Space+ Connectivity+ Diversity + Community Capitals+ Accessibility = A measure of community vitality.

All of these contribute positively to vitality, except for dead space, which has negative impacts.

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I was interested in how a community’s vitality can be measured, as it would obviously be a very subjective measurement; based ultimately on people perceptions.  The direction that the Vitality project (http://crcresearch.org/vitality/vitality) is taking is very well thought out and with time I believe will become an assessment tool for communities around the world. 

I tend to agree with this measurement that takes into account the above components and I think the current measurement of Canadian community vitality measured using the Canadian Index of well-being (https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/our-products/domains/community-vitality) needs revision.  It shows that Canadian communities report/show a 10.3% increase in community vitality: the strength, activity and inclusiveness of relationships between residents, private sector, public sector and civil society organizations that fosters individual and collective wellbeing.

Due to their methods I feel the newer Vitality Project represents a truer vitality measure because it has built on those components that the current index includes; crime rates, participation in organized activities, voluntary engagement, feelings of belonging to the local community, feeling of trust, % with 6 or more close friends. Although I think these factors play into a vibrant community, the measurements are too focused on objective evidence when really the community vitality is a more intangible aura that a community possesses.  This doesn’t mean that the measurements must be completely subjective but a medley of methods must be used in order to capture the big picture I think.

The current index has a sustainability component in the Vt index developed by the Vitality Project. After all, if a community is going to be resilient and adapt to change, climate change is the current over-arching issue that ‘threatens’ the current way of living.  I say ‘threatens’ with quotations because it is the inconvenient truth that will demand a plethora of changes both big and small, that the majority of people will need time to accept.

Some things I might consider to be included in a vitality index would be:

Screen time, it needs to be measured as factor playing into human relations, does it decrease or increase the useful and meaningful connectivity between community members? Democratic involvement would also be an interesting and easy statistic to include; such as how many community members are voting and believe they can make a difference?  Are public spaces being used, revamped or forgotten? Are dead spaces being revamped and are they allowed to be revamped by the community? More & more often, creative residents are claiming dead spaces as community garden space; the laws should allow this

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(http://hyattrecruiting.blogspot.ca/2011/05/how-adaptable-are-you.html)

Community vitality is a great measure to develop, which will give us clues as to how to make our communities more successful, sustainable and bountiful.

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