The Results Are In! Alexandria Quality of Life Indicators Voting

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Over the last two months, ACTion Alexandria has worked with the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria, ACT for Alexandria and Virginia Tech to solicit and gather feedback on new Quality of Life Indicators for Alexandria.

Voting Results
ACTion Alexandria received 901 votes from community members on the Quality of Life Indicators with some surprising results. For instance, in the more traditional outreach efforts conducted by the Partnership and VA Tech, the Health Care category dominated the discussions, but on ACTion Alexandria, the focus was on the following three categories:

Health care came somewhere in the middle of the voting with 76 votes. We need to analyze the data more thoroughly but I think it’s safe to conclude that ACTion Alexandria was able to not only provide community members with a different way to participate in this important community effort, but that we were able to bring some different people into the mix. Ironically, the Diversity category received the least amount of votes, probably not because people felt it was less important, but probably because of its position lower down on the main challenge page.

We experienced some of the limits of our challenge functionality. It turns out it was not the most intuitive way for many people to provide feedback, but it did provide a different way for community members to add their feedback to traditional community feedback mechanisms like townhall meetings and surveys. So what lessons did we learn?

  • Give careful consideration to the order in which challenges are listed. The first challenges probably will always benefit from more participation.
  • Always provide more information and context. Many people just weren’t sure why some measures were included or what they meant. We’ll work with our partners to provide more rather than less information in the future.

ACTion Heroes Never Give Up!

An unexpected highlight of our first challenge experience is that some of our community members managed to submit new indicators even though that wasn’t supposed to be technically possible! Thanks to their persistence and a bug in our website, these new indicators were submitted for consideration by our members:

  • Brenda Coleman thinks we should try and measure the local farmers markets accept vouchers from assistance programs like food stamps under the Healthy, Safe, and Accessible Food category
  • Drew Bewick would like to see the total number of nonprofit organizations included as a way to measure our Sense of Community. 
  • Mike Moran proposed that we stimulate the use of low impact transportation by launching a competition in which people earn points for distance traveled per month using low-impact means under the Transportation, Trails, Parks, Open Space, and Recreation category. Technically, it’s not exactly a measure, but it’s a great idea!
  • Allison DiNardo thinks measuring the percentage of the population that lives within one mile (walking distance) of a store/market that sells fresh fruits and vegetables would be a good idea under the Healthy, Safe, and Accessble Food category.

Great contributions from ACTion members, right?!

You can see all votes by category and indicator in the Quality of Life Indicators Google spreadsheet, which includes a Vote Summary” tab and a “Votes by Indicator” tab.

So What’s Next?
The Partnership for A Healthier Alexandria, ACT for Alexandria, Virginia Tech, and the City of Alexandria will work together to analyze the data we’ve collected so far from all of our outreach efforts and form a Community Indicators Taskforce this summer to begin working with community partners to continue to develop and refine the list of indicators and begin collecting data for the first round of measurement.

What Can You Do?
If you want to get more involved in the the Quality of Life Indicators project, join the Community Indicators Taskforce! Contact Carrie Fesperman Redden at carrie.fesperman@vdh.viriginia.gov .

Partnership for A Healthier Alexandria and VA Tech Outreach Details and Findings

Outreach Method

  • An online survey sent to Alexandria “experts” – over 62 responses received from City commissions, boards, departments, community coalitions, and key community organizations
  • Two town hall forums (including one facilitated in Spanish and English) – Attended by over 50 community members
  • Paper surveys circulated during Office on Aging’s Strategic Planning Forums – 44 responses


Findings

There were two indicators that everyone seemed to agree were important:

  • % of people indicating they needed health care (including alternative health care) in past year and were unable to receive it
  • # of complaints to Environmental Health regarding perceived environmental hazards or pests

Other indicators that participants in the community meetings felt particularly important were:

  • % residents who report they feel there is a strong "sense of community" in Alexandria
  • % children receiving free and reduced cost meals at school
  • Median gross rent in Alexandria
  • # housing units available for households earning below 50% of median income
  • % of adults ages 18-64 who currently report having health care insurance   
  • Teen Pregnancy rate
  • # slots available for recovery services
  • % population below poverty level
  • % residents who take public transportation to work
  • Unemployment at local level


Participants in the Office on Aging’s Strategic Planning Forums had some different opinions about the indicators and wanted to include:

  • % adults who report visiting their physician in past year for well visit/preventive care/physical

For more details on the Quality of Life Indicators project, visit the Partnership for A Healthier Alexandria website.

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