Through its Regional Well-Being Project, the college’s Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) is seeking to identify shared community values in the Mid-Hudson region.
The project, a major effort of the center, is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, obtained with the assistance of New York’s U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
Since January 2009, a research team of CRREO staff, faculty and students – working with a diverse group of community leaders in facilitated meetings – has been determining key measures of the desired economic, environmental and social character of Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. The four-county area was selected because nearly one-third of the college’s student population comes from these communities. The size and population of the area is also of interest; nearly one million of the people live in these counties.
Like all CRREO initiatives, the Regional Well Being Project engages students. Kathleen “KT” Tobin Flusser, assistant director of CRREO, said five local high school students and 12 SUNY New Paltz students have been involved with the research.
Additionally, the group is working with New Paltz faculty members to develop teaching materials for use in courses and in guiding students in the challenges of measurement in social science-related work at New Paltz and elsewhere. On-campus projects include stream bio-monitoring with Shafiul Chowdhury (Geology) and a study of Community Supported Agriculture led by Brian Obach (Sociology).
“The Regional Well-Being Project has already connected the college to our regional community in new ways,” said Tobin Flusser.
The research team and community leaders have participated in extensive deliberations in order to articulate shared values; prioritize them and identify how best to measure well-being. The group will regularly measure and publicize its collective progress over time in realizing these values. The following critical focal points have been selected:
• a robust economy;
• quality education for all;
• responsible environmental stewardship;
• vibrant community life;
• responsive governance;
• healthy people;
• an array of arts and culture;
• a diversity of housing choices;
• a sound transportation infrastructure;
• safe communities.
In addition to specific measurement in each of these areas, with the assistance of Eve Waltermaurer (Sociology), the project is seeking to create a Regional Well-Being Index, which might be regularly calculated and publicized.
The results of the first year of collaborative work will be featured in a report to be published in the spring of 2010; similar reports will be produced every year. The annual report, which is all-encompassing of the group’s mission, will be supplemented by two in-depth reports focusing on a particular portion of the group’s mission statement. The group will also produce a number of reports to be distributed to local government decision makers, including county executives, county legislators, mayors, city councils, town, village and school board members.
These reports will include results for each county, an analysis of the region as a whole, an index, indicator subset data and special in-depth analysis on prioritized topics.
“Our goal is to inform both citizens and policymakers in the discussion of choices facing the Hudson Valley,” said Tobin Flusser. “We want our work to be part of the decision-making and policy-making discourse.”
For more information, contact CRREO at x2901 or email@example.com.