Topics for Further Study Challenges Ahead About the Data Acknowledgements

Civic Vitality – Topics for Further Study

The Houston region has been much touted recently as a good place to live. If we are to remain so, we must find ways to ensure that more of our people realize that promise.

Center for Houston’s Future Community Indicators serve as the area’s report card on achieving a balance between the social, environmental and economic factors necessary for a leading competitive and sustainable region in the 21st century.

Our nine issues have been selected according to a number of criteria. To be included, an issue must be community-wide in scope, impact, and how it is best addressed. We look at relevance, importance to the region’s future, timeliness and current interest in the community, and other qualities, including alignment with the Center’s mission and vision. We target associated metrics that can be tracked over time, compared to a national standard if one exists, and compared to peer cities or regions.

We recognize that our nine core issues – Civic Vitality, Arts& Culture, Health, Education, Natural Environment, Built Environment, Diversity, Economy & Industry, and Public Safety – are not free-standing; each topic connects to and influences other topics. We will highlight these cross-sector issues on HoustonIndicators.org. We also will investigate specific connections to Civic Vitality. We aim to explore these links in more depth. For example:

    Diversity (our next area of study) is almost inextricable from Civic Vitality. We particularly want to explore how income segregation and ethnic/ racial segregation in our region overlap, and to take an in-depth look at Hispanic and immigrant participation in civic life.

    Built and Natural Environment, as it defines the accessibility and utility of public space, has a profound impact on community. Public space provides opportunity for people to gather and interact, and thus builds a sense of community.

    Education is essential as a path to prosperity, and post-secondary education is essential to intergenerational income mobility. A Pell Institute study suggests that household income has a strong correlation with access and success in postsecondary education. We want to examine those links and the implications for our work with local community colleges and universities. Additionally, education attainment level has been identified as another aspect of income segregation. It also correlates with political participation and volunteerism.

    Public Safety is another issue that intersects with Civic Vitality and inclusiveness. Criminal justice issues and questions about equity are of great concern across the nation and in Houston as well.

Access to information is a key component of Civic Vitality and an informed and engaged citizenry. We look at library access, funding, and use in our Civic Vitality pages on HoustonIndicators.org. In this era of fractured media, it is challenging to identify how people get information and how reliable that information is. We plan to add other measures to this analysis: newspaper circulation, television news viewership, and Internet access.