Our success and well-being as individuals come largely as the result of “connections” we are able to make — to each other and to opportunities.
A community’s success largely comes from its ability to help people make connections as well – to their neighbors, to job opportunity, to health, to surrounding communities and to technological assets. Strengthened connections can inspire people and help communities harness collective energy in order to maximize their assets and more effectively address challenges in the local community.
The ReCONNECT County Snapshots are designed to inspire community conversations and collaborations about sustaining and improving community connections. In addition to dashboard metrics, Snapshots includes a visualization to help communities “see” their strengths and challenges in each ReCONNECT NC focus area.
Suggestions for How to Use the Snapshots in Your Community:
- Pull up the data on your county.
- Discuss key assets and challenges your community has to address issues related to each measure. Talk about what other data your community has that fills out the edges of the “snapshot.”
- Form a community work group to consider ways to increase community connectedness. Set goals and track progress over time.
- Determine who is missing from the conversation. Who can help address your community’s challenges or build upon your assets? Invite them in.
We’d like to hear how you are using Snapshots so we can learn from you and share your ideas. If you have feedback for us, please contact Alicia James, Policy and Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org and Paul Nolan, AmeriCorps VISTA at email@example.com.
Wondering where your county stands? Welcome to ReCONNECT County Snapshots! This is an interactive tool that allows viewers to see indicators of community connectedness. To begin, on the Dashboard below, select a country from the interactive map. (Mobile users: zoom out to see the entire dashboard). Change the view to County Strengths Radar Chart for a unique visualization. Shapes extending furthest from center indicates stronger performance. For more details, click here.
Social Associations: Measures number of social organizations per 10,000 population. Associations include membership groups such as civic, sports, religious, labor, and political organizations. These then can become a “powerful network for people to share ideas, engage in collaborative problem-solving and forge creative partnerships.”1
*Determined US 90 percentile (22 associations per 10,000) as basis for comparison.
Percentage Voter Turnout: Measures turnout rate of total eligible voters in a county population for the 2016 election. Voting is often associated with civic engagement because it represents local activism at the community level.
Access to Exercise Opportunities: Measures percentage of individuals in a county who live reasonably close to a park (local, state, or national) or recreational facility. Parks and recreational facilities provide meeting places where people can meet and develop social ties.
*Civic Engagement Strengths Radar Map averages all three metrics to give each equal weight.
Regional Employment Connections: Measures the percentage of workers who commute out of a county for work and the percentage of a county’s jobs held by workers living outside the county. Although regional workforce interdependence can be viewed positively, commuting workers may spend more time away from their communities of origin, which may limit their ability to connect locally. This raises the issue of potential trade-offs between different methods of connection.
*Dashboard includes data for both metrics. Strengths Radar Chart averages the two.
Source: Census on the Map, 2015
Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: Measures the working population, age 16 to 64, in the economy currently employed or seeking employment. Non-participation in the workforce can be a sign of disconnection – from jobs, colleagues, and economic opportunity. Therefore, connecting citizens to jobs may increase the likelihood of individuals and communities experiencing social and economic benefits from labor force participation.
Reporting Poor or Fair Health: Percentage of people reporting “poor” or “fair” health. Individuals reporting “poor” or “fair” health may experience quality of life challenges due to chronic illness, which can impact their ability to connect to others, jobs, and their community.
Broadband Access (25+ mbps): Measures broadband availability as a percentage of the population, with speeds of at least 25 megabits per second (download) and 3 megabits per second (upload).2 Broadband connectivity can increase an individual’s community engagement by connecting them to friends, neighbors, and community groups.
2 Federal Communications Commission, “2015 Broadband Progress Report”. https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/reports/broadband-progress-reports/2015-broadband-progress-report