Small Group Exercise
The purpose of this exercise is give participants experience in indicator development using one of the issues and concerns identified in the introductory exercise. Divide the participants into groups of three or four people. Give each group a topic to discuss based on the quality of life issues identified in the introductory exercise. No group should be larger than four people in order for everyone to have a chance to speak within the small group.

For their topic, each group will do the following (approximate time needed for each task is given in parentheses):
Define the desired goal (15 min)
Identify the linkages, including key links (20 min)
Identify the pressures that are causing the state and the type(s) of capital (15 min)
Brainstorm indicators (30 min)
Evaluate indicators (30 min)
Identify possible data sources (10 min)
Discuss ways to incorporate indicators into daily work or activities (15 min)
Prepare to report back to larger group (15 min)
At the end of the exercise, each group will report back to the larger group using the report format below. Here is a more detailed description of the tasks:

Define the goal (15 min)
Begin by defining the desired goal for your issue. Remember, you are not trying to prescribe how the goal is reached, just what the community would look like when the goal has been reached.

Identify links (20 min)
Discuss the linkages between 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. Use either the linkage worksheet or a linkage web. Identify key links.

Identify pressures and type(s) of capital (15 min)
Discuss which type(s) of community capital the issue involves and some of the pressures on and responses to the state that is being addressed.

Brainstorm ideas for indicators (30 min)
This should be real brainstorming. Don't worry about how feasible an idea is, or whether it is possible to measure, or whether any data exists. The point is to get as many ideas on the table as possible.

Evaluate indicators (30 min)
Review the indicators. For what level of audience would the indicator work: is it for the general public, for policy makers, or for specialists? Next, determine whether the indicators are related to pressures, states, or responses. Finally, use the indicator checklist to rank your indicators. Discuss your reasons for assigning the rankings. (It is all right to have different opinions about how an indicator is ranked as long as you can explain why.) Select one or two indicators to present to the larger group.

Identify data sources (10 min)
Discuss possible sources of data for the indicators that you selected. Would the source have to be developed, or are there groups that already collect the data? Is the data available at a local and regional level, or only at one level?

Identify ways to use indicators (15 min)
How could the indicators be used and publicized so that they become a part of the general public's thinking?

Prepare to report back (15 min)
Pick a spokesperson and prepare to present the top one or two indicators to the entire group. Use the format below to present your results.

Report Format

Using a common report format will make it easier for the group as a whole to interpret each small group's results. Use the reporting process to get feedback from the group as a whole concerning ways to improve the indicators.

Here is a sample report that illustrates the format each small group should use:

Indicator Report

Issue: Air pollution in the city

Goal: The air will be clean enough that sensitive populations will not be affected

Linkages: health (key), education, air quality, economy, transportation (key)

Indicator: Number of respiratory related deaths during times of poor air quality

Type of indicator (pressure, state or response): State

Type of capital: Natural/Social

Rank: 7 (out of 15)
   Natural Capital Carrying Capacity: 1 (ability of air to allow people to breathe)
   Social Capital Carrying Capacity: 1 (health of people)
   Understandable: 1 (easy to understand)
   Long-term goal: 1
   Links: 3 (cultural/social, economic, energy, environment, health, transportation)

Potential data sources: Local hospital, local doctors' association, board of health

Ways to incorporate indicator into daily life: Have graph in local newspaper
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Copyright © 1998 Maureen Hart. All rights reserved.