Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News
A loss of $30 million in economic activity a year in the Monadnock Region — that’s what a recent report estimated the closing of Vermont Yankee would result in. My ears perked up when I heard that amount: $30 million. Why? Because a different report notes that if every Monadnock Region resident shifted just 10% of their purchases from national chains to locally owned retailers, we would keep $27 million in our local economy annually. If we accomplished this, we’d be well on our way to replacing the loss of $30 million.
Looking at our efforts through the lens of collective impacts helps us put into perspective how our everyday actions (such as what we purchase) combine with others into a stimulus for our local economy — creating new jobs, more charitable contributions and a better quality of life for more residents.
Other groups are also taking this approach and documenting the collective impacts of their efforts. Monadnock Arts Alive works to sustain, promote and expand access to arts and cultural resources in the Monadnock Region. In 2008, they partnered with the Americans for the Arts on a study that found that nonprofit arts and culture organizations contribute $16.6 million annually to the Monadnock Region. The report also notes, “This economic impact study sends a strong signal that when we support the arts, we not only enhance our quality of life, but we also invest in the Monadnock Region’s economic wellbeing.”
The Monadnock United Way and Healthy Monadnock 2020 are driving long-lasting community change through an approach that’s actually called “Collective Impact.” To successfully use this model there must be a shared vision for change, consistent data collection, differentiated but coordinated activities, open communication and a separate organization to serve as the backbone for the effort. Instead of individual organizations developing isolated projects or programs to address a need, multiple coordinated stakeholders drive real social change. An article about Collective Impact by John Kania & Mark Kramer states, “No single organization is responsible for any major social problem, nor can any single organization cure it.”
The Monadnock United Way partnered with the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and others to create Impact Monadnock — an effort to ensure that all children in the Monadnock Region and their families are healthy, learning, and thriving, now and in the future. They have identified four potential Collective Impact action areas: Early childhood school readiness, access to livable wage, early childhood safety and development and regional economic development.
“Issues such as these are complex and interrelated,” said Tim Murphy, Executive Director of Southwest Region Planning Commission. “Improving the future of our children is tied to many variables such as safe and affordable housing, quality education, jobs which offer households a livable wage and opportunities for healthy living – and access to all of these via adequate transportation and communication infrastructure. To focus on improving the future of our children in a meaningful way, and with measurable success, will require that we view these interrelated issues as part of the overall equation to be addressed concurrently.”
Healthy Monadnock 2020, founded by the Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene in 2007, has a vision that the Monadnock Region will be the healthiest community in the nation where all individuals will reach their highest potential for health. Their action areas include healthy eating, active living, educational attainment, income, mental wellbeing, healthcare access and social connections — and they’re partnering with 2,500 individuals and 105 local businesses, organizations and schools to improve 27 shared measures and be the healthiest community in the nation by the year 2020.
“Shared measures can move a community beyond the often fragmented and disconnected efforts of well-meaning organizations and funders, and create a new degree of coordination and learning that can magnify the impact on a social problem,” said Linda Rubin, Director or Healthy Monadnock 2020.
Looking at our community through the lens of collective impacts can put our everyday actions into perspective — whether at work, at home or at play. Take a moment to look at what you value in your community. How are your choices nurturing what you value? How is the collective impact of your family contributing to our local living economy?
In addition to your everyday choices, here’s a very small way you can contribute to Monadnock Buy Local’s efforts to strengthen our local economy: The Eat, Drink and Be Local Fundraising Event at Elm City Restaurant & Brewery on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Mention “Monadnock Buy Local” on March 24th and Elm City will donate 10% of your check total to Monadnock Buy Local. We love how Monadnock Buy Local members like Elm City Restaurant & Brewery are stepping up and raising support for our work. Together we can inspire more individuals to shift their spending to locally owned businesses to create a stronger local living economy.