One Region

Playing nice in the sandbox, improving quality of life

2014-03-11T15:58:00Z Playing nice in the sandbox, improving quality of lifeDennis Rittenmeyer Executive Director, One Region nwitimes.com

One Region, the community development organization serving the three counties in Northwest Indiana, is approaching its second anniversary. This spring, the One Region Board of Directors will engage in a retreat to review the past two years and make appropriate corrections in our priorities and activities.

In the months since the organization's founding, a great deal has been accomplished. We have hosted two very successful annual luncheon meetings filling the Radisson Hotel to capacity. We've also hosted community leadership retreats identifying the most important issues facing Northwest Indiana now and in the future. Finally, we sponsored a three-county summit on the health of our citizens, which was one of the two indicators identified in 2012 as having a negative trend during the last 10 years. The purpose of all these meetings was to identify issues in the context of the 10 quality-of-life indicators which were published in the 2012 Quality-of-Life Indicators Report.

All our activities have been designed to generate broadly inclusive conversations among people from all three counties in Northwest Indiana. They were also intended to highlight the most important issues in our region that impact the quality of life of our citizens. Our goal is to improve the quality-of-life of our citizens by improving our performance on the 10 quality-of-life indicators.

The majority of the work done by One Region is accomplished in the committees overseeing the action projects that relate directly to the quality-of-life indicators. Accordingly, we will work to improve the health of our residents by addressing issues such as infant mortality, health disparity, and the expansion of mental and physical health services. We will endeavor to make our citizens safer by improving the performance of our various law enforcement agencies. And we will strive to improve the performance of our local government entities by helping them to become more effective servants of our citizens, to name just three.

Improving the quality of life of our citizens is a daunting task to be sure. Nevertheless, it is our mission and we accept that mission and intend to attack it directly. At the same time we know none of these quality-of-life issues will be addressed by simply "throwing" money at them. While there are some matters which require additional funding to be found – for example, the expansion of early childhood education – there are others that can be addressed by improved coordination and most importantly more cooperation.

A good example is public safety, which historically has been viewed as the “sacred cow” of government funding. Now, however, there is little new funding available. The duplication of services represented in the form of numerous different local policing agencies is but one example. Unnecessary elected official positions is yet another. Do we really believe it is important to have three executives in county government, elect an auditor or the surveyor!

The collection of geopolitical entities that make up Northwest Indiana have long been referred to as “Balkanized.” Furthermore, we seemingly have turned our disagreements and our occasionally disagreeable nature into an art form whose time clearly has passed. The imposition of “tax caps” has forced some adjustments, but more are necessary if we want to invest in our future and not “cut” our way in to it!

If we are serious about improving the quality-of-life of our citizensm we need to think of all our citizens and not just our own constituents. We must look for ways to cooperate to benefit one another instead of searching for ways to isolate one community or one group from another.

One Region’s goal can be simply stated as "getting everyone to play nice in the sandbox and get something done to improve the quality of life for all our citizens”. Accomplishing this goal is our most important priority.

Our mission statement, the 2012 Quality of Life Indicators Report, the most recent South Shore Journal and other information about One Region are available on our website at www.oneregionnwi.org

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