Introductory Exercise
At the top of one flip chart, write the title "Quality of Life." At the top of the second flip chart write "Type of Organization." Taking turns around the room, each participant has one minute to introduce himself or herself by providing the following information:
  • Name
  • Where he or she is from
  • The type of organization he or she works for or represents (health, business, planning, education, environmental protection, grassroots, private citizen, etc.)
  • What he or she considers a key component of quality of life. One way to phrase this concept could be to describe his or her vision of a good community--one that has a good quality of life. Another way to phrase this concept would be to describe a problem or issue that he or she is trying to improve.
For example, "My name is ___. I am a volunteer on the Watershed Watch group in ____ and I think that quality of life includes having an adequate supply of clean drinking water." Another example would be, "My name is ___. I am a social worker for ______ and I think that homelessness is decreasing people's quality of life."

If the workshop is being done for a single organization, rather than saying the organization they represent, the participants can mention a group that they are involved in outside of work such as school PTA, church group, etc. This shows the different segments of the community that are represented. These affiliations should be kept very brief--the object is to get a list of organizations represented and a list of quality of life components.

When an organization type is mentioned (state environmental agency, health organization, etc), it is written on the Type of Organization flip chart. If multiple people mention the same organization type, just add a check next to that line on the flip chart.

When a component of quality of life or a quality of life issue is mentioned, it is written on the Quality of Life flip chart. If multiple people mention identical issues or concerns, again, add a check next to that line on the page. Make sure that the person recording the issues is accurately capturing each idea. For example, if two people mention water quality but one is concerned with runoff from fertilizer and pesticides and the other is concerned about sewer discharge, both issues should be written down.

When everyone is done, ask the participants to look at the organizations and identify groups that exist within a community, but are not represented at the workshop. Frequently missing groups include business, youth, and the homeless or other disadvantaged groups. Write the groups mentioned in a different color. Discuss ways to get people who represent these interests involved in a sustainable community indicator project.

Things to Think About

  • Often the most difficult, but ultimately the most important, part of a sustainable community indicator project is ensuring that all different groups within the community are represented and feel a part of the process.
  • It is very important to listen carefully to what people are saying. Make sure they are really being heard.
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Copyright © 1998 Maureen Hart. All rights reserved.