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…

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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…

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Investing in Energy Savings

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

One of the largest contributors to making a community poor is to spend big dollars on energy created elsewhere. A dollar spent on coal or oil or natural gas leaves the neighborhood forever and therefore cannot pay for local labor or local services — an exported dollar that hurts everyone.

A strategy some communities have used to reduce the outflow of money used to purchase energy is to invite private investors to invest in public buildings in exchange for a share of the energy savings achieved.

One example of private money investing in not-for-profit buildings can be found at Wellesley College, located outside Boston in Wellesley, Massachusettes. A private investment group was contract…

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"Magic Machine" has Many Benefits

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

Imagine a magic machine that replaces old equipment for very low cost and then puts money in the owner’s pocket for decades to come.

Imagine that this same machine could lower the cost of groceries at the supermarket, clothes at the mall, education for your kids — while actually earning local investors a profit and employing local workers at the same time!

Now imagine that if you use this machine, you reduce the number of people suffering from asthma, heart problems and many other diseases, thus lowering health care costs for our country.

Now imagine that this magic machine has existed for years, and still is not used nearly as much as it could be. And that is where we sit today.…

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