The Vital Vernonia Indicator Project (VVIP) has completed their initial report and will be presenting their findings to numerous civic and community groups over the next several months.
The Vital Vernonia Indicator Project is a collaboration between Oregon State University Extension Service and the community of Vernonia and was designed to quantify and measure the well being of the Vernonia community. By examining, recording and tracking indicators of vitality over time the community can now measure progress towards goals to improve well being and identify areas for targeted community action or investment.
Many community indicator projects have been implemented across the U.S. and other countries, at scales ranging from the municipality, county, or state levels. Community indicator projects are typically implemented by a government entity or non-profit organization, often in conjunction with a university. Indicators draw on data obtained from reliable outside sources (such as the U.S. Census and other regional data collection efforts) as well as primary data collection in the form of community surveys.
In Vernonia, community goals were created and indicators were chosen and measured in the following five categories: Livability and Community Engagement, Youth and Education, Economy, Health and Well Being, and Environment and Natural Resources. By tracking community indicators over time, a community can gain insight into progress being made towards community goals, and can identify areas for targeted community action or investment.
Working with OSU staff and meeting monthly over the last two years, numerous local volunteers helped to develop the goals and indicators of vitality to be measured. Data was collected through a series of household, business and student surveys as well as other sources, and then assessed to determine indicator targets. A final report has been completed which will be available throughout the community for community members to read. Volunteers will also be available to present the findings to any groups who may be interested.
A community forum is being planned in April to discuss the VVIP findings and the potential for community action.
The VVIP is seen as a useful tool for evaluating the long-term impacts of flood recovery, public and private investment in the new school campus, and other community initiatives. This project will also contribute to a better understanding of rural community vitality across Oregon, build local leadership capacity and knowledge, and further develop a framework for university-community partnerships centered on community indicators.
The Vital Vernonia Indicator Project was made possible through financial and in-kind support from OSU Extension Service/Columbia County, Vernonia Prevention Coalition, and The Ford Family Foundation.