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What’s Vital about Vital Signs? 5 reasons our community survey is a big deal

You are walking down the street and suddenly you come upon somebody laying down.  Are they okay?  Are they hurt?  Are they just resting? Are they even alive?  Whether we are trained or not we know some basics to check for – pulse, breath – if you’ve taken the courses you may find yourself saying “Annie, Annie, can you hear me?” You really want to know if they are alive.

Vital signs for a community are not quite as simple, but just as important.  I think we can agree that we want to work, play and live in a place that is alive!

In 2014 High River had our first Community Summit (shameless promotion – save the date Jan 25, 26 2019 Summit).  Over 90 people attended and one of the exercises we did was looked at what makes a vibrant community. What would the community we would like to work, play and live in look like? Elements of a healthy community were agreed on and the next step was to measure how we were doing – a lot of different tests were considered and finally Vital Signs was chosen.

This tool uses local knowledge to measure the vitality of a community and support action towards improving quality of life.

5 reasons Vital Signs is a big deal:

  1. It measures how alive our community is: Quality of life is felt and known. We want it to be good! We are grading ourselves on Connection, Expression, Safety & Security, Lifelong Learning, Thriving Populations, Health & Well-being, Environment and Livability
  2. Community voice matters: How can we grade these things without a broad perspective? What’s great for me might be awful for you.  Taking all of those points of view into consideration gives a more complete picture.
  3. Action based on need:  There’s so many ways we could go but time and resources are limited- so prioritizing and starting where the people care about most is helpful in decision making.
  4. Telling our own story:  How we see our town and how the world sees our town can be distorted. There’s been a real effort to be seen for more than the flood, Vital Signs points out all the ways in which High River shines.  This not only feeds civic pride but also draws economic development and tourism.  We are a unique gem on the the edge of the Foothills.
  5. It can help you make your case: It’s a valuable resource, we have heard several times that people are using the Vital Signs in their work to describe High River and to break myths such as “it’s a retirement community”  in fact our demographics are very balanced.  One of the most exciting stories that came out was when Salvation Army Lieutenant  Chad Cole told us that he found the 2016 Vital Signs before his move and was able to use it to make his case for an emergency support trailer based in High River – it is used to support first responders –  the only one in rural Alberta!

Over 600 residents weighed in on the 2018 Vital Sig.  while we were shooting for more we need to consider that Calgary, a city of 1.2 million people, gets 1000 responses to theirs. We will be unveiling the results this upcoming Wednesday at the Community Café.  Please join us, it’s a beautiful document. Hear what High Riverites had to say and get the facts and stats on our town.  Oh, and Evelyn’s is catering!

P.S. the person on the street – they are okay, vital signs good, they were just resting after a nice walk along the 28 km of happy trails!  (Info from Vital Signs 2016)