Nomination for a First Annual Sustainability Award
from the Alliance for Sustainability, continued

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 The success of this effort then prompted the start of a larger process, which has culminated in the "Volunteer to Sustain Cape Cod EXPO" to be held on April 14, 2004, at the Cape Codder hotel in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Sixty-five nonprofit exhibitors have reserved all booth space, and we anticipate that hundreds of volunteers of all ages will convene that day at the behest of CapeCorps, a nonprofit organization launched by the Cape and Islands United Way to encourage volunteerism and sustainability. The honorary sponsors of the event are the Cape Cod Times newspaper and the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank. Many more corporate sponsors have underwritten the costs for the day. Information about the event and the outcomes it desires can be read at www.CapeCorps.org.

       I mention these activities to suggest that the action that triggered them was taken by the Sustainability Indicators Council.  Without their work to shape amorphous concepts of sustainability into concrete measures and specific action steps, these subsequent events would not be happening in the positive and connecting ways that they are.

       Cape Cod is a region of more than 1,100 nonprofit institutions serving nearly 230,000 year-round residents and another nearly 500,000 visitors in the summer months. These nonprofits perform work essential to the Cape's economy, its environment, and its social welfare. The drastic population swing between winter and summer poses unique problems to this effort that place the managers of local nonprofits on an operational and administrative roller coaster. The needs swell dramatically. The resources and reserves ride similar waves.

       The Sustainability Indicators Report 2003 and the ongoing work of the SIC has defined the context in which these efforts take place. The report has brought together different perspectives and priorities in a less challenging and threatening way than sometimes occurs in the discussion or consideration of a specific community need.

 

Barnstable County as the Repository for the
Accumulation of Cape Cod Data

       For any governing entity to be effective, the data, knowledge, and information it assembles needs to be readily available and accessible to residents of the community. In issuing its report, the SIC relied on public information.  Its efforts then demonstrated how to create useful knowledge from it. The SIC report also suggests how to distribute this knowledge to the community. And in doing so, the SIC both raised knowledge capital and linked information sources in ways that are triggering decisions and actions among the diverse sectors of our community.

       The SIC's actions and its report serve as a model of how to effectively measure community performance and results. The SIC's work emphasized community participation in ways that lead to constructive input in policy making and problem solving. Facilitating the public's participation in these activities is essential to our governance. The bottom line in the public sector is that citizens and government can be more effective and can better serve their communities by working collaboratively to identify goals and to measure and manage performance.  (Application continues.)

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