Want a Better Community? Answer the Call
By Jim Williamson
(July 15, 2015) In today’s age of communication overload, when it seems that just about every friend, acquaintance, stranger or shoe polish salesman is invading our personal space every moment of the day via phone, text, message or tweet, it is understandable that so many Americans don’t pick up any longer when an unfamiliar caller ID pops up on the phone.
I’m here to tell you today there is one call coming your way that you should answer – from the 518 area code – and if you do, you’ll be playing an important role in helping make our local communities better places to live.
The largest community survey in Connecticut history, the 2015 Community Wellbeing Survey, is taking place as you read this. Through autumn, representatives from New Haven-based research firm DataHaven are calling and interviewing 15,000 randomly-selected residents of the state – including 900 from Berlin, New Britain, Plainville and Southington – about every imaginable topic ranging from community vitality to health, family economic security to individual happiness.
The data being gathered – all anonymously, of course – is vital to you and to your community. Information not available from any other source will be produced, and will be shared with local school districts and municipal leaders to help them better serve our collective health and well-being needs.
The importance and significance of this survey cannot be underestimated. Organizations like the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, whose mission it is to serve the needs of the community, rely on data; such information and insight is key to understanding the issues that are most important to those who work in, live in and raise families in the four communities we serve.
Lending further credence to the value of this project is the fact that the Foundation is only one of an impressive array of more than 100 major Connecticut community organizations, local hospitals, health departments and academic institutions helping to fund it. We clearly understand its significance – and we hope you do as well.
The list of topics to be covered in the survey include civic engagement, transportation, housing and employment – even satisfaction with government and community life. The goal is not only to gather the highest-quality, neighborhood-level data, but to foster collaboration among the hundreds of organizations, institutions, businesses and agencies working to build stronger communities.
For its part, the Community Foundation will not only share the information gathered with local community leaders, but also use it to shape its own mission moving forward – including that of collaborating with others to make our communities better.
A staff of more than 100 highly-trained English- and Spanish-speaking survey-takers based at the Siena College Research Center near Albany, New York, is making the calls. The work they produce, with your cooperation, can have a profound impact on our communities of tomorrow.
So be on the lookout. Answer the call. It’s your chance to be heard.
(Jim Williamson is President of the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain www.cfgnb.org)