Waterloo Region’s 4th annual Vital Signs report was released today. It’s an annual check up on 11 key indicators that measure the quality of life in our community. I’m a big fan. Always have been. Unfortunately, given the cancellation of the long form census, the data used to compile this important document may be difficult, if not impossible, to compile again. And that’s a shame.

As for the report, read it. Follow the “You Cans” and “Did You Knows.” These are the small contributions we can all make to play an active role in our community and our quality of life. And heed one of the warnings we heard at the launch today, the warning that we’re becoming complacent and risk-averse. It’s a sobering thought when you think of the challenges faced by the men and women who built this community and the obstacles they overcame. Don’t we owe it to them to continue the tradition, to follow the example set? Seems to me the least we can do. Collectively, we can raise this barn, too.

An initiative launched simultaneously today is called Social Venture Partners. Again, big fan. The aim is to connect philanthropists with non-profits and allow those philanthropists to do more than simply cut a cheque. They can roll up their sleeves and get involved, sharing knowledge and skills. It makes a whole lot of sense.

The goal is to have 20 partners within the first year. I like this collective approach and the added influence the many will have over the individual. It’s a question I’ve long asked myself. While I think it’s great that the Buffetts and the Gates’ of the world have pledged to give away most of their fortunes, what about the average Joes and Janes that want to make a similar contribution? Individually, it makes much less of an impact than a Buffett or a Gates. But collectively it becomes an influential idea.

Maybe this is the starting point.