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 How do we Measure "Progress"? 

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

I could truthfully tell you that 46 percent of high school students had sex in 2009, and horrify you. Or I could tell you this percentage has fallen from 54 percent in 1991 and make you feel things are at least going in the right direction.

I can tell you that almost one in 12 (8.1 percent) of all American youth aged 16-24 lacks a high school credential of any kind, and we could fear for our state and country. Or, I could tell you that, 20 years ago, that percentage was 11 percent and is actually getting better.

In both cases, the second piece of data is vitally important in assessing our society’s health — because without it, you don’t know if things are getting better o…

Read more: How do we Measure "Progress"?

Local Gift Cards Boost Economy, Help Protect & Create Jobs

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

With the economy in the dump, and faith in national decision makers at an all-time low, is it time to take local action to create jobs and protect local employers — can a community do well, by doing good?

Some communities think they can, and are proving it. In these communities, entrepreneurs and local small businesses, in partnership with a small local or regional bank or credit union, have created local gift cards.

These cards are branded, and are used to buy goods and services from locally-owned businesses only — not the big-box stores and other businesses that ship money out of the community.

Case in point: In Dane County, Wis., a group of local b…

Read more: Local Gift Cards Boost Economy, Help Protect & Create Jobs

Suburban Design cuts Crime 90%, Energy 70%, and Water 33%

Suburban Design cuts Crime 90%, Energy 70%, and Water 33%

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

The Village Homes community began development in 1975 and is located on 70 acres near downtown Davis, California. It consists of 225 homes, 20 apartment units, a Community Center with several businesses and an inn. Residents share 23 acres of parks, common areas, orchards, vineyards, and greenbelts. This design saved $800 per household in upfront costs

Commonly owned land comprises 40% of the total acreage. Members of the community have access to two large parks, extensive walking and bicycle paths, vineyards, several orchards and two large common gardening areas.

The principal designer of Village Homes is Michael Corbett. He and his wife, Judy, conceived…

Read more: Suburban Design cuts Crime 90%, Energy 70%, and Water 33%

Virtual Co-Op Links Farmers and Restaurants

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

It is possible to create jobs, have healthier diets and improve the local economy by re-birthing local agriculture on small plots of land.

Each pound of lettuce or eggs or beef shipped from California, Latin America or Mexico raises our dependency on foreign oil. And buying food from far away costs us jobs locally. Some communities have figured out a new path forward that fixes all that.

North Carolina’s Rutherford County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, and yet some 6,000 families own between five and 20 acres of land.  Meanwhile, chefs in nearby Charlotte are in need of fresh produce for their restaurants.

First, local leaders helped cre…

Read more: Virtual Co-Op Links Farmers and Restaurants

Happiness and Emotional Health Designed into City Planning

Happiness and Emotional Health Designed into City Planning

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

It’s no accident that San Luis Obispo is the happiest city in the United States.  San Luis Obispo has a population of 44,000 people, and, according to a 2008 Gallup-Healthway Poll, ranked number 1 in the U.S. in overall emotional health. 

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 Dan Buettner is author of Thrive, a book that details his investigation into why some cities can boast a higher rate of emotional health than others.  Dan traveled to the places where the population ranks at the top of reported happiness.  Answers to questions about where these places are and what makes them different are discussed in his book.

San Luis Obispo shares…

Read more: Happiness and Emotional Health Designed into City Planning

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