I got my Voices and Choices choicebook feedback. Did you?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sat, 09/09/2006 - 05:03.

Yesterday, I got an email from Voices and Choices providing feedback from the Choicebook I completed online in July, in preparation for the community meeting they are holding next weekend. Did you complete a choicebook and get your results? Based on the data, showing at best only around 539 other people completed choicebooks, I assume you did not. That means you do not have a voice in how the establishment will steer $100s of millions in "Fund for the economic future" foundation and public money and attempt to steer our economy over the coming decade.

My feedback indicates I think very differently than most of the people who responded on most issues - what I ranked highest is not typically ranked highest, by overall average, in most cases. But that is based on the sample that responded, and so few people responded it is impossible for me to know if the data is at all representative of what is my community. For example, the data indicates at best only around 40 blacks answered choicebooks... 2 Native Americans, 6 Asians, 6 Latinos... 87% of responses came from whites. I don't tend to think like typical whites in Ohio, so I don't expect the sample to reflect me very well. Also, over 60% of responses came from outside Cuyahoga County, and I definitely don't think like folks out in the 'burbs... sub and X.

But the whole point of the exercise is to boil down all 2+million regional people's differences to some sort of common vision for change, so there is no interest to sample a high percentage of people like me... the issues that I think are important didn't even make it into the choicebooks and, for what was there, my responses are anti-sprawl, anti-burb, and as socialist as the survey would allow. None the less, the process is valuable to document some choices and common voices and attempt to include citizens in problem solving.

One thing I found particularly interesting, from the data reported back for completing the choicebook, was that, while around 540 people completed the first choicebook category, School Funding, only around 240 completed the last category. That may indicate that the people have the greatest interest in School Funding, but I think that probably indicates people did that category because it was first and then got tired of the survey process, which was very time consuming and unpleasant (well over an hour to complete the whole thing). My calculations of response levels by category, in sequential order, are as follows: School Funding: 540 respondents; Skilled Workforce: 306; Racial Isolation: 246; Attracting Investment: 280; Sprawl: 286; Government fragmentation: 240.

When I have more time, I'll post the actual charts of people's responses, as that is interesting. But, as a last summary observation, based on feedback to some initial questions of the choicebook on overall perceptions about the regional economy, 60% of respondents find the current economy worse than five years ago, and only 50% think it will be better in five years, yet 67% of respondents would recommend the region as a place to live to friends and associates. What are we, cruel to our friends and associates or ill?

Well, I did my part to tell the establishment what is important to me, and hopefully you are one of the 500 or so who did the same, but none of us should count on "them" to solve the region's problems. Even with $100s of millions and the power to write laws, elect mayors, and change school directors, the establishment still doesn't have a clue or actually have the ability to change our economy, which depends on the individual success of all 2+ million of us in the region - around 400,000 of us in Cleveland - and for that we're each on our own.