The Project

A synthesis paper titled Community Vitality: The Role of Community-Level Resilience Adaptation and Innovation in Sustainable Development describes the research outcomes from the CRC case studies.  This project follows from that paper based on a number of proxy indicators that emerged from the series of discussion papers that were prepared to try and develop a tool for communities to understand and measure their own vitality and to and answer the following questions.

1. How do we define community vitality? 
2. What are indicators of community vitality? 
3. How do we evaluate community vitality?

This tool is the result of a collaboration between the Canada Research Chair on Sustainable Community Development and Sustainability Solutions Group Workers Co-operative. This novel partnership combines the theoretical experience of a team of sustainable development researchers and a group of practitioners who work with municipalities on a day to day basis to implement sustainable development.  The methodology for the project is itself an experiment, an iterative dialogue between theory and practice using a variety of methods.

Step 1. Scoping workshop: A first two-day workshop was held in Ottawa to agree on an outline for the project. In this process, we identified a number of themes to survey in the literature.
Step 2. Literature survey on vitality: A literature survey was conducted on the concept of vitality, drawing on scholarship from a wide variety of disciplines.
Step 3. Scan of existing tools: A scan of existing community vitality tools was completed along with a review of their methodologies.  Other relevant tools were also placed in an interactive mindmap, which is illustrative not exhaustive. 
Step 4. Discussion Papers:  A series of discussion papers were completed in thematic areas relating to community vitality.
Step 5. Workshop: A second two-day workshop was held in Ottawa to identify indicators of community vitality. This dialogue drew on the ten years of research by the CRC, the experience of SSG members and the background research completed. The result was an innovative set of six indicators.
Step 6. NVIVO Analysis: A quantitative analysis of the discussion papers was completed using NVIVO software as a second method to look for emerging themes.

Step 7: Photo illustration:
 The team elected to describe the indicators using a series of ten photographs each, drawing on the technique popularized by pecha kucha.
Step 8. Interactive website: All the work was placed in this interactive website, including a qualitative tool that can be used by individuals to evaluate the vitality of their communities. 

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