South Mountain Partnership is making great progress on our State of the Region project that will help measure our region’s environmental and community health and recommend ways to improve and preserve our remarkable abundance of resources for generations to come. The State of the Region project will create a Report Card, interactive maps, and a story map. In this issue, we will focus on the Report Card, the measurements we will include, and how the team developed them.
Unlike the report cards we received in our school years, this one is significantly different. The State of the Region Report card takes a “deep dive” into five categories of the resources and qualities that make South Mountain an exceptional place to live, work and play: Nature, Recreation, Agriculture & Food, History & Culture, and Public Health.
The process we used in creating the Report Card has been inclusive and thoughtful; it is comprised of ongoing outreach with local subject advisors, community partners, and conservationists to generate ideas, offer perspectives, and identify which measurements will be used to gather data. We have asked for input from all South Mountain Partnership committees, partners, and attendees at the Power of Partnership and Winter Partner meetings. It required extensive research and collaboration with local county planning staff, who have been instrumental in gathering data around the five categories to provide a complete picture of the status of “health” within them. Working diligently, the Steering Committee, comprised of planning staff from each county in the South Mountain Region, has identified consistent mechanisms of measurement that will be applied to each of the five categories mentioned above.
Currently, the team has identified 15 measurements (and counting!) ranging from acres of preserved land to acres of wetlands, acres of preserved farmland to the number of historic resources, access to fresh food and crop production, and more. Once the Steering Committee finalizes the list of measurements, we will let you know. We will then analyze each measure to establish a baseline and trends for the region’s resources resulting in a “report card” of cumulative data…in essence, evaluating how we are doing as a region for each measurement. Future teams can apply these same measurements to assess conditions in the future to provide an ongoing report on how well (or not) we are protecting our valued assets. We will also use the findings of this evaluation to identify key regional challenges that the Partnership and partners should be addressing.
As we start identifying these key challenges, we want your thoughts! What is a key regional challenge that the Partnership should address as part of this project? Let us know via email ! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The project is on schedule, with the anticipated completion of the Report Card in late May and the unveiling of the story map in September 2023. Look for more information coming soon as we begin the process of announcing and promoting the findings to elected officials, stakeholders, and the public
South Mountain Partnership invites you to stay engaged with the process through monthly Facebook posts, upcoming partner newsletters, and future Partner Meetings.
This year is an inspiring time for South Mountain Partnership, and we are so glad you are a part of this exciting initiative.