Here’s to our civic health

Since 2014, Leadership Fayette’s class project has focused Fayette County’s civic health. The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), an association focused on civic health, defines civic health as “The way that communities are organized to define and address public problems.”

They go on to state that, “Communities with strong indicators of civic health have higher employment rates, stronger schools, better physical health, and more responsive governments.”

Civic health indexes look at four areas: social connectedness, community involvement, political action and confidence in institutions.

In partnership with NCoC and the Georgia Family Connection Partnership, the 2018 Leadership Fayette class conducted a statistically valid study to assess Fayette County’s civic health.

Georgia Family Connection Partnership recently launched an initiative to do civic health surveys around the state, and we implemented this survey through them. Fayette County, along with Camden, Stephens and Cook counties have completed the civic health survey. Bibb and Washington counties are slated to execute surveys this year.

With assistance from AVPRIDE’s youth leadership program FYLP and Fayette Factor’s ENCORE leadership program, Leadership Fayette collected 697 surveys last October. I’m happy to report we are quite healthy!

In the area of social connectedness, Fayette County’s numbers exceed other participating Georgia counties as well as the national rates. Slightly more than 50 percent of the respondents talk to their neighbors regularly as compared to 44.5 percent in the three Georgia counties. Additionally, 70.7 percent say they trust their neighbors compared to the Georgia counties which reported only 53 percent did.

Fayette County is a real standout when it comes to community involvement. Of those taking the survey, 78.8 percent reported volunteering in some form or fashion while the national average is 26 percent. Our favorite way to volunteer is raising money for a cause and tutoring.

Fayette also loves public meetings with 67.5 percent reporting attendance at a public meeting in the last 12 months where the other Georgia counties reported 8.3 percent attending.

We also are politically active. Slightly more than 50 percent reported they have bought or boycotted a product or service because of social or political values of the company that provides it. Also, 40.3 percent have contacted a local elected official.

Nearly 80 percent of Fayette Countians voted in the November 2016 elections compared to 43.6 percent in the other Georgia counties. Interestingly, the other counties report a slightly higher participation rate than Fayette County in voting in local elections.

Compared to other counties in Georgia, Fayette Countians have more confidence in corporations but significantly less in the media. Nearly 70 percent trust corporations compared to 59 percent in other Georgia counties. Only 39.3 percent of Fayette Countians trust the media compared to 57.1 percent of the other Georgians.

To view the complete study, please go to www.FayetteChamber.org. Under the “Our Community” tab, click “Leadership Fayette.”

[Carlotta Ungaro is president and CEO of the Fayette Chamber of Commerce, located in Fayetteville. The Chamber represents almost 800 member businesses and organizations and strives “to promote business and enhance economic and community development through leadership, service and advocacy for Fayette County.”]