Small Group Exercise
  • Goal - Develop indicators for an issue
  • Steps:
    • Define Goal
    • Determine linkages
    • Brainstorm indicators
    • Rank indicators
    • Make a better indicator
    • Report back

Talking Points
  • Develop goals for issue
  • Analyze links
  • Brainstorm indicators
  • Evaluate indicators
  • Improve indicator
  • Report back

(As part of the introduction to the workshop, participants created a list of issues that concerned them. During the break, the facilitator should review this list of issues and combine any that seem to be redundant. Once the group gets back together, ask participants to select one issue area for which they would like to develop indicators. Try to arrange it so that no group has more than four people if possible.)

Now we are going to break up into groups of three or four to start working on developing indicators of sustainability. The groups will be based on the issues that were identified during the introduction.

The first thing each group should do is define the goal for the topic or issue. Think about what the community might look like in 30 or 50 years if this problem has been solved. The goal should not state how the problem is solved, however. For example, if air pollution is the problem, a statement that says 'all automobiles have been banned' is not a good goal statement. This is really a statement about how to reach the goal. In this example, a goal statement might be 'people can get where they need to go without generating pollution.' Spend about 15 minutes developing a goal statement.

Next, discuss the linkages among your issue and other areas of concern. For example, if your issue is childhood asthma, there is a link to environment because of air quality issues. There is also a link to transportation because air emissions from automobiles may be a factor. If the area is rural, wood stoves might be a factor, in which case there is a link to energy and resource use. The purpose of this part of the exercise is to help everyone see the linkages among different factors in a community. Spend about 20 minutes talking about the different connections. Be sure to identify those links that are key links.

Next, discuss what type of community capital is involved in your issue. Also discuss the pressures, states and responses involved. Spend about 15 minutes on this part.

Now that you have identified the key links, the type of community capital and the pressures, state, and responses for your topic, use that information to start to brainstorm ideas for indicators. This should be real brainstorming. Don't worry about how feasible the idea is or whether it is possible to measure. The point of this part of the exercise is to get as many ideas on the table as possible. Spend 30 minutes brainstorming indicator ideas.

Now use the indicator checklist to rank your indicators. You can either do the ranking individually, compare answers, and talk about why different people came up with different rankings, or you can rank each indicator as a group. However, part of the learning process is understanding why someone else gave an indicator a different rank than you did, so try to be open about discussing your reasons. Spend some time on how the indicator can be improved. What will make the indicator more useful, more used, more relevant, more understandable? Try to end up with at least three indicators that you would use to measure your issue. You have 30 minutes to select the best indicators to present to the larger group.

Now spend 10 minutes discussing where you might find data for the indicators that you have selected. Be sure to consider local sources of data. What organizations may already have the data that you need?

Spend about 15 minutes discussing how the indicators could be publicized so that people are aware of them and actually use them in making decisions.

Finally, spend 15 minutes preparing to present to the entire group the indicators selected by your small group.

(Describe the procedure and format for reporting results back to the group as a whole. Once the time is up, the facilitator should have each small group report back to the group as a whole.)
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