Community Focus 2021

Welcome to the 2021 Community Focus Report

Table of Contents

by Morey Mechlin, Steering Committee Chair, and Dr. Jonathan Groves, Facilitator

Fifteen years after the first Community Focus Report, the 2019 edition highlighted several improvements throughout the Springfield/Greene County area: A strong, growing economy; a vibrant arts community; a willingness to invest in schools, trails and infrastructure. Ongoing challenges such as poverty, child abuse and mental health issues remained, but the October 2019 event that shared the report highlighted case studies of success, as well as a sense of optimism.

As 2020 began, scientists identified a novel coronavirus that had begun spreading throughout the world. By March, health officials had declared the situation a pandemic, one that eventually inundated health systems and led to community shutdowns around the world, including in Springfield and Greene County. Since that time, the changes wrought by the COVID- 19 pandemic have disrupted every facet of our lives, physical, mental and spiritual.

To reflect this historic moment, the Community Focus Report's steering committee is presenting our community's biennial report card of strengths and challenges in a vastly different fashion.

In advance of this printed report, 11 white papers tracking the Community Focus Report's usual topic areas were released on a new website built by the Springfield-Greene County Library District. In addition to focusing on three specific Blue Ribbons and Red Flags for each topic, the papers also examined the pandemic's impact. We are grateful for the continuing commitment of the Library and the report's other supporting partners: the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, the United Way of the Ozarks, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Junior League of Springfield.

Unlike previous editions, this printed summary centers on community health to understand how we coped and how we might regain our momentum post-pandemic. The Blue Ribbons and Red Flags from the white papers have been grouped by the Social Determinants of Health, defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as "conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of-life risks and outcomes."

The report also includes an intentional focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, a major theme in 2021. Committee member Francine Pratt, director of Prosper Springfield, explains how to apply an equity lens to understand how issues and decisions may affect historically under-represented groups differently —often more deeply—and ask, "Who is kept out of participation?"

Since 2004, the Community Focus Report has provided a data-driven snapshot of our community to help us improve Springfield and Greene County. How we move forward is up to us as a collective community—among nonprofit organizations and churches, schools and government institutions, citizens as well as public leaders. No single group or area of expertise alone can eliminate all of our Red Flags; as this report reveals, there are connections and links, often not immediately apparent, that can result in unintended consequences. What may resolve a problem in one area might create another elsewhere.

The committee's hope, now as then, is that this report provides a starting point for conversation in our community, toward solutions that leverage our strengths to overcome persistent challenges and issues, together.

Morey Mechlin Jonathan Groves

Next: Community Themes