Thursday, July 12, 2007

Keeping up with the Brahmins

Quick...what region does this quote refer to?

...[T]his small region with its extraordinary innovative capacity and still untapped potential can make a real difference in determining which road we go down.

Sounds like Milwaukee, but this was spoken at a recent citizen seminar at Boston College to release the latest Boston Indicators report. According to syndicated columnist and regionalism booster Neal Pierce,

[T]he Boston Indicators, spearheaded by the Boston Foundation's Charlotte Kahn, have become the gold standard for U.S. regions. They're not just boatloads of raw data; rather they're framed, topic by topic, with readable, updated analysis and available online at Any leader or citizen can get a clear, quick view of just where the region is progressing, where it's stalled, and potential cures.

The Milwaukee region has yet to develop a set of similar indicators, which means we may be missing out on insights such as this:

The Indicators show that spending on health care in Massachusetts soared 44 percent from 2001 to 2006, even in the face of stagnant population levels. State health outlays are crowding such other priorities as local and higher education, human services and needed public-transportation projects. Yet obesity and hypertension, risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, continued to rise.
"There's something wrong with this picture," notes Kahn: "We aren't aligning health spending with the actual determinants of health — 50 percent of which are all about lifestyles and another 20 percent the environment, including exposure to toxins — and only 10 percent access to doctors, clinics and hospitals."

The Milwaukee 7's strategic framework will help the region coalesce around common priorities, but we will also need a robust set of indicators to tell us whether we are making any progress toward achieving those priorities. Boston is serious about being competitive in the global economy, is Milwaukee?

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