How to Make Collections and Indicator Reports [Video]


Webinar recorded April 18, 2019. Posted April 19, 2019


Welcome & Housekeeping


Welcome! We’re so glad you’ve joined us today to learn more about the new Community Commons platform and how to make Collections and Indicator Reports.


As we continue our journey we’d like to remind you of what we care about and where we are today in our process of reinventing community commons.

This will include an overview of the anatomy of the Commons: we’ll discuss collections and cards as the new core tools.

We’ll then have a demonstration and end with plenty of time for questions.

So now I’ll turn it over to Erin Barbaro to get us started. Erin?



  • Thanks, Adam! I just want to say how inspired we are by you all as changemakers


    • What matters most for community change are the people and relationships
    • We understand this work is difficult and often very draining
    • So we hope to empower your work by providing tools and data. We want to help you:
      • Learn from others who have gone before…. Make-the-case and show why something is needed, and….Target resources: to show where to focus those precious resources
    • We hope the end result is that, together, by pooling our efforts, we can all work smarter and, by achieving victories in every community across the country, leave a better world for the next generation.

  • So Where are we today?
    • We’ve come a long way.
      • Since 2012, the Commons has served about 100,000 people per year, and has helped people share thousands of reports and stories.
    • We are grateful to serve you as the changemaker.
  • The commons has changed a lot since January when we re-launched with basic functionality. In March we released the first version of the community indicator report and once again in April the Area Deprivation Tools and index were shared.
  • For those of you who have been with us during this transition - Thank you for joining us on this journey
    • For those who are new to The Commons - welcome! We’re SO grateful you are here.



Now let’s dive into the Anatomy of The Commons and the demo. First, some things you should know about the new Community Commons:

  • It’s totally 100% different
  • The idea behind the entire design is that this is a tool that you can bring to the table when you are having in-person discussions with other changemakers. It is meant to be a companion during those human face-to-face moments.
  • Two important things to know about the site today:
      • 1. It is built upon cards.
        • Cards are the Building Blocks
        • Cards that are savable, movable, and soon, shareable
      • 2. It is experienced best in the Chrome web browser
        • Because we’re using cutting edge technology and data visualizations, the best experience is currently in Chrome. For your reference here is the link:


Another important feature is that the platform has different spaces:

  • Public pages are like a downtown public market. This where people share and trade ideas. This includes the homepage, member gallery, and published collections.


  • Private pages are like a home. This is just for you and includes My Favorites and My Collections including collections you’re working on and haven’t yet published.



Here’s how the different spaces appear on the screen:

  • For Public pages you can see the homepage and the member gallery is here where you can browse what you and other changemakers have made public.


  • Private pages like My Favorites and My Collections are found here on the Left Navigation menu




  • Let’s talk a little bit about CARDS which I mentioned are the building blocks of The new Community Commons and can be used to tell the story of your community. You’ll note we have map cards, indicator cards, and story cards.
  • Cards can be saved
    • Save cards from Public Pages to Your Private Collections
      • For example, if you find a story on the home page which is relevant to your work you can favorite it or add it to one of your collections.
    • It is like going to the Public Market and buying tomatoes to take back home to add to your favorite recipe
    • To save cards, click on the buttons at the bottom of each card.   
    • As you find things you like browsing the Commons click the Heart at the bottom to save it to your favorites or the icon here to save to your collections.
    • Another important part of cards are the tags, cards regular tags and a really unique type of tag called an Area Tag. We will show you more about Area Tags during the demo.


  • So what is a COLLECTION? When we say “collections”, we mean a collection of cards with words. The words help describe the card collection and put the cards into context
  • Once a card is saved to your collection, it can be shuffled around, tagged, or removed.
  • Your collections are a place to pull together content - stories, maps, and data, and add text and interpretation relevant to your work, your projects, and your stakeholders.


For now, let’s take a tour and we’ll show you how to create your own indicator report. Think of an Indicator report as a prebuilt card collection with data cards. It is a starting point for your own collections.

So let’s begin by clicking the RUN a Community Indicator Report at the top of the screen. Adam’s going to build a basic report. First, he’ll define his area: it could be a single or group of ZIP codes, counties, or cities and towns. Let’s do a region based on a couple of counties.


Notice as he does this, the map is being populated….

Also, if he makes a mistake, he can simply X out the area. Now, we’re going to type in a name for this area.

This area name will appear on the report and it is totally up to you. It could be the name of your community, your hospital service area, your coalition region, etc. These areas will be saved and accessible to you later as “Area Tags”. I’ll reference them again today.

Now in Step 3 he’ll click “Generate Area” Why this step? Well, we want to give you the opportunity to examine which cities, counties, and ZIP codes are in your region. Notice you can X out items you might want to exclude. This step also will tell you which ZIP codes or cities we’ll use in the event that county data isn’t available. We always use the smallest geographic area possible when generating these reports. Ok, this looks good. Let’s go ahead and hit SAVE. Once that’s complete, we’ll get a message to close this window and see the report.

So this is where it gets really fun! We are now ready to View and EDIT this report which is your first COLLECTION!!

So, let’s take a look through to give you some orientation. We have a number of indicators cards available for our area that we defined. There are a couple dozen indicators available now and we’re adding more each month. You’ll notice there’s some interactivity within these reports to hover over trendlines, scroll through the indicators, hover over to see additional info, toggle between Our Community and US Benchmarks, etc.

So back at the top, notice there’s an Save/Edit toggle at the top of the screen. We can switch between Edit and Save mode here. Let’s go to Edit Mode and we’ll show you how you can customize this report. First, I encourage you to change the title & subtitle to be more meaningful.

[Type in an alternate title: A Denver Report and Sample Report]

Scrolling down, notice that you can change the section title

[Type in About Our Region]

And we can edit the text included here



Also notice that we have lots of options for working with the text, if you want to include bullets, numbers, bold text, etc.

Let’s scroll down a bit so I can point out some other features.



You may have also heard that the area deprivation index cards have been enhanced this month. Let’s take a closer look at those.

Adam, let’s click on the Area Deprivation Score map there because it has a secret portal of sorts to cards that are related

This is a new index to the Commons designed as one method to help prioritize areas of greatest need in your community. What you see here at the top is a map, showing areas that are most prosperous according to the index, in Green and areas of greatest need, or deprivation, in this orange/peach color.

The area deprivation index or ADI measures social vulnerability through an index of 17 socio-economic factors.

As we scroll down a bit further, we can see more about the index which is calculated using American Community Survey indicators related to income, education, employment, and housing quality. I can also download the indicators in a CSV or Excel table batch, and see each of the component indicators unpacked and compared with the benchmark so you can see what is most contributing to vulnerability in your community.


Now as I scroll down, you’ll see a bit more information about my region, including a map of the area and a map of the block groups shaded by the score, and then scrolling down, I’ll see some additional ways that we’ve kind of “unpacked” the index into its various components.

Here’s our overall ADI percentile, for our area, based out 100 with 0 being the most prosperous and 100 being the most deprived. But you can see as we look at socio-economic status, household conditions, and housing stock where we compare to the national average with each of these individually. We can also scroll down and see each of the individual indicators alone. Each gauge here is showing the comparison to the US Benchmark. So here you can see that for High School Graduation rate, my community is worse than the US Benchmark here.

Let’s say Adam likes this card and would like to use it again later. He can click the HEART and save this to my favorites which can be found in the left menu. He can also add this back to collection we’ve been working on. To do that, he’ll click the Save Card button. He’ll browse through his list of collections and then pick which Section he’d like to save the card to.

So at this point, let’s go ahead and close this window and return to our Denver collection. Notice here’s the card we just saved is available right here in the Measures of Vulnerability section! So we encourage you, as your browsing the Commons - whether it is collections, stories, or maps, save things you like to your collections or favorites to access later.

As you can see, All these cards are really core to the new site. They are savable, move-able, and soon-to-be shareable.

Let’s go over some cool features:

Again, you can click the Heart to favorite something. This will appear in my favorites on the left for quick access. You can tag items for quick reference later and organizing. For example, you might tag it with a project name to find later. You can just click to remove the tag. You can also click here


to remove the card from your collection, copy to another collection, or (eventually) share with others.


Another cool can shuffle around the cards! You do need to be in Edit Mode to do this but if you see a card, you can click and drag to rearrange. Cool, right? For now, you can only drag cards within a section but you can copy a card to a different section if you’d like.

You can also compare locations side by side using those Area Tags we discussed earlier. So, here we’re looking at Median Family Income. Let’s say we want to Compare our region to a peer. So Adam will go to the More tag and copy the card and then paste it back to the same section.

I’ll then refresh the page to see that difference and get back into Edit Mode. Ok, now we have two matching cards for my original area.

I can now change the area tag of my second card to my new location. I just click on the area tag and click “Replace Tag” I’ll then choose one of my saved areas. A note about the locations you can choose from, these are found here in your “My Areas” section that we talked about earlier - they are saved when you create an indicator report. If you’d like to compare areas, and you need to create a new area, click “Create New Area”

Notice my region on the left compared with Cincinnati. Notice that the state updates here as well.

So that’s a new feature we’re excited about and we hope it gives you some flexibility to compare your area to others.


Now that you have some basic anatomy, let’s create a brand NEW collection from scratch, without a template. You can click here to start a collection. It will create one called “Untitled Collection” and can be found in your list here on the left. As before, you can change the title and add sections. So we have a nice clean slate! We can name the sections, add new sections. Once you have the framework of sections in your collection you will add items by browsing indicator reports, stories on the Commons, and your saved favorites. You can click here to invite collaborators. Collaborators can help you edit your collection. If you want to show people your finished collection, click here to Publish your collection to the member gallery. This makes it public. Once your collection is public, it has a shareable link that you can send to anyone. Visitors will not have to log in to see your published collection.  

Let’s look at a collection that were made from scratch: This one features housing in Cincinnati.


Notice that this collection has a lot of invited collaborators. It also includes stories favorited from the Commons, indicator cards, and maps. As you explore collections, notice on some cards, like the map cards, you can click to explore further.

Let’s return to the HomePage



If you read the Area Deprivation story featured on the homepage this week, you may not have realized that it was created in a collection! This gives you an idea of how flexible these collections can be!

We’re very excited about the potential of Collections to combine data and indicators with narrative context. We would love to see your collections and hope to share them so we can all learn from each other!

This is a journey. As we said in December, we’re starting simply and growing from there. Hopefully you’ve noticed each month we’re adding new features and making changes based on your feedback. To keep this momentum, we’re going to need your help, your stories, your feedback, and your ideas. 


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