What Is It?
The Landscape is a data-driven reflection of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area. By combining comprehensive data with insight from community members, The Landscape offers the opportunity to develop a shared vision for our community’s priorities while tracking how well we are faring in six initial focus areas.
What Is The Focus?
This project starts out by looking at six areas of community life: health, neighborhoods, safety, transportation, education, and workforce. Within each area, there are specific indicators that reflect what our friends, family, and neighbors are experiencing, and expose both the challenges and trends that influence the health and well-being of the entire metro area.
What is an Indicator?
Within each focus area, there are indicators—or key measures—that provide insight into our local context. These key indicators allow us to reflect the different experiences of people; provide an accurate and reliable measure of conditions or circumstances in the community; demonstrate where we’re doing well or where we have challenges; and possibly inspire action on areas where our community can do better.
What is a Community Indicator Project?
Community indicator projects help communities to make connections between issues and trends in different focus areas. The findings are a snapshot of a community's vitality and quality of life which helps us understand the interrelated nature of these areas. This data is a first step in understanding our community’s successes and challenges, beginning a conversation on how to improve the quality of life for all people in our community, and holding us accountable to making these investments.
Why Is It Needed?
The Omaha-Council Bluffs metro is a deeply caring and generous community committed to making a difference with generous resources for a region of our size. However, we still struggle to move the needle forward in some areas and ensure that all members of our community have access to the opportunities, resources, and programs that make the Metro a great place to live and work. We see The Landscape as an opportunity to identify a shared vision of our community priorities, to spark new conversation and accountability around these issues, and to create a different focus and alignment of efforts to move the indicators forward.
Who Is It For?
- Community Residents // Ensure that their voice is incorporated into community problem solving
- Donors + Funding Partners // Give to support initiatives or nonprofits addressing the focus areas
- Nonprofits // Align and strengthen initiatives and programs to address prioritized issues
- Legislators + Policymakers // Ensure we have smart policies and legislation in place to address key community needs
- Community Leaders + Vocal Advocates // Vigorously share the information about the data and findings
What Are Our Goals?
Using synthesized, comprehensive data, plus people’s authentic participation in conversation to result in stronger community problem solving. More specifically, The Landscape’s goals are to foster:
- Shared learning and understanding
- A collaborative prioritization of community issues
- More aligned investment and coordinated effort within the focus areas
- Public accountability to move the needle forward on important issues
Where Did The Data Come From?
Any data used as an indicator came from data sources that were: community-wide, publicly available and regularly collected. The data draws from both local and national sources. National data sources include the United States Census (the American Community Survey), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and others. Local data sources include the Community Health Needs Assessment, Omaha Environment Element & Transportation Master Plan, Nebraska Bureau of Labor Statistics, Heartland 2050, and more. Drawing from these sources allows us to compare progress over time and gives others an opportunity to analyze the same information. In some indicator areas, regularly collected data does not exist. While in those areas we currently refer to state-level data or a one-time study in order to bring focus to an indicator, the gap helps clarify a need for better data collection and offers a potential research opportunity within the community.
How Are You Different From Other Data Projects?
Over time, The Landscape will combine quantitative data with qualitative data that represents the lived experiences of residents. Together, these two sources of information will offer a more complete picture of our community in order to consider what strategies are needed to address community challenges.
In addition, many other data projects in the community are one-time studies focused on a specific area, or are part of a broader visioning and planning process. Projects like Heartland 2050 are focused on the development of a regional vision, whereas our project looks at specific data points over time to measure progress in particular areas specific to the three-county area. We utilized data included in many of these projects to prioritize our focus and elevate work that was already occurring, rather than duplicate findings. For example, we have aligned the seven health indicators to those that are included in Douglas County’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP).
When Will This Information Get Updated?
Indicators will be reviewed and adjusted as the data is updated. For some indicators, data is only available once every 3-4 years. For other indicators data is updated annually.
Why Are There Only Six Areas of Community Life?
While we’ve started with six focus areas, we expect to explore additional areas such as the arts, the environment, the economy, and civic engagement. The first six areas were selected based on an examination of previous studies, and with the guidance of The Landscape steering committee. Through community engagement activities and listening to public feedback, we will work to further develop and refine the work included in The Landscape.
How Were Indicators Chosen?
We know that within any of these particular subjects, such as health, there are hundreds of indicators we could focus on. For example, in addition to hunger, health insurance access, and obesity, there are other health issues such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. This project is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather aligned with other efforts occurring throughout the community as well as around indicators where we see a large disparity in experiences. As this project evolves, we plan to look at other indicators to include emerging and existing issues within each focus area.
What Are We Asking People To Do?
- Provide feedback to give perspective of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area’s priorities.
- Share stories and experiences to build a mutual understanding of the community's most urgent issues.
- Connect with a nonprofit to understand how they are working within a specific area and how you can support them through volunteering, giving, mentorship, or other community engagement work.
- Get involved in our community by advocating for the disparities outlined in The Landscape.
Why Do We Look At A Specific Demographic Within Some Areas?
We often talk about our community as being a great place to live and work, given the Omaha -Council Bluffs area’s consistent recognition on various national rankings and lists. However, we know that this depends on who you are and where you live. When we look at data by race, socioeconomic status, geography, and other demographics, we see vast differences in the experiences of individuals living in our community.
Why Did You Talk About Race The Way You Did?
It is important to be aware that there are clear differences between the language we use and how people may self-identify. Many researchers prefer to utilize the options provided in U.S. Census data, but even the U.S. Census Bureau is continuously evolving their approach to the concept. We recognize that researchers do not have clear standards for how to frame questions about race, ethnicity, and national origin—or their cultural identity. This lack of clarity and absence of succinct guidelines may exclude individuals unintentionally. For example, some of the sources we’ve cited here do not include anyone who is not White, Black, or Hispanic. Because there are many people who identify as something other than these, or as someone who identifies with two or more races, statistics will be inaccurate.
It is also important to note that race and ethnicity are not interchangeable. Race is generally an externally perceived identity according to your heritage and your physical characteristics, while ethnicity is based on common ancestry and cultural attachments, that also looks at behavior and internal identity, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Learn more about race, ethnicity, and cultural identity on our Glossary page.
I Am A Nonprofit; How Can I Use This Information?
We hope that The Landscape provides a platform for you to further tell the story of your organization and what is happening throughout our community. Nonprofits are essential partners in furthering the community conversation and gaining insight from individuals and groups throughout the area. Please visit our Your Voice section to learn more ways to get involved.
How Can I Get Involved, How Do I Work To Change An Issue?
We hope that this information proves useful as you think about how you might continue—or begin—your community involvement. While not every piece of information may be surprising or new, we hope it provokes conversation and helps you realize a fuller picture of how the Metro area is faring as a whole.It’s then up to you to decide how and when to get involved or take action! We encourage you to check out our Get Involved page to learn more about what you can do. This page offers suggestions on ways to get more involved in the community, lists avenues for contacting policymakers, and offers connections to local nonprofits engaged in this work throughout the Metro area.