Identifying and Mapping Upstate Assets
Jul 03, 2017 01:39PM
● By Makayla Gay
Whether you’re looking for something fun to do on a weekend or are in need of a particular community service, it’s impossible to know everything that exists and is available either for entertainment or to meet community needs, thanks to such a large and diverse pool of resources, activities and programs available across our 10-county region.
In many cases, the first step in determining what is needed to address a particular issue or increase awareness of an available resource is taking an inventory of what already exists. Whether you’re working on increasing the visitation to parks and art galleries or helping residents and service providers identify available services for children or seniors, knowing what exists is key to increasing awareness of those assets, identifying gaps and duplications, and strengthening connections.
Often, upon taking an inventory of available services and resources and plotting them on a map, a pattern begins to emerge showing a cluster of services towards urbanized areas, with only a smattering across the more rural parts of the Upstate.
It might be easy to look past the inconsistencies, but if you think about those dots, or lack thereof, as the essential services and assets they are, many residents of the Upstate could be going without the care and resources they need. Perhaps it’s the lack of public art in a rural community, the need for a food pantry to help eliminate malnutrition for seniors and children, or a child stuck inside because there is no nearby park at which to play.
Once a gap in services has been identified, community partners can come together to address the particular need in that community. By collaborating, organizations can reach underserved areas and increase their capacity to serve.
Publishing these inventories as interactive maps creates a new resource for Upstate residents looking for services and service providers looking to refer a client to an organization that can serve their needs. Using Google, an interface almost everyone is familiar with, users can find important contact information, visit the organization or resource’s website, and even get driving directions.
Over the past year, several committees convened through Ten at the Top have been working to identify ways to improve outcomes for their respective focus areas. Many of these committees started their efforts by compiling an inventory of resources and moving forward from there. Some of these inventories are now complete and ready for public use, while the remaining will be completed within the coming months.
Children in the Upstate deserve every opportunity for success. Ten at the Top’s Child Well-Being Network is made up of service providers representing nonprofits, health care systems, schools, and other organizations. The network was formed through the completion of an inventory of organizations that address: health (mental, physical, and nutrition), housing, substance abuse prevention, family engagement, safety, employment, education, and early childhood development.
With more than 700 different organizations and services identified, the resulting interactive map can be used by parents looking for a service or as a referral tool for service providers.
Senior Hunger & Home Needs
With 15 percent of the Upstate population currently over the age of 65 and that percentage expected to increase to 25 percent by 2030, aging and the availability of services for seniors is an issue of growing importance in the Upstate.
Many seniors prefer to stay in the familiar comfort of their homes, rather than move to a senior living facility, but just need a little assistance to make it through the day safely. Whether it’s issues with transportation, hunger or housing needs, many seniors (or their caregivers) often are not sure of where services are available and how they can be tapped.
Throughout much of 2016, volunteers from the Senior Issues group worked to inventory and map organizations that offer assistance to seniors in the following areas: food pantries, home delivered meals, congregate dining sites, farmers markets that accept senior SNAP vouchers, rent and utility payment assistance, home chores and errand assistance, home repair and modification, and weatherization.
The map includes 235 services and organizations for Upstate seniors.
Outdoor Activity & Recreation Areas
It’s not all fun and games – getting outside and being active can positively impact an individual’s mental and physical health. Fortunately for visitors and residents, the Upstate is home to numerous options for getting fresh air.
Last year, Ten at the Top’s Natural Beauty and Resources Task Force teamed up with a Furman University undergraduate biology class to create an interactive map of outdoor activity and recreation areas. The class inventoried waterfalls, trails, public parks, historical landmarks and plantations, farms, lakes and rivers, camping sites, birding locations, zoos, arboretums, and more.
The interactive map, which was also supported by the Duke Energy Foundation, now includes more than 300 points of interest ready to be explored.
Arts and culture in a community can spark pride, attract visitors, create jobs, and can help make a community vibrant.
Members of Ten at the Top’s Community Vibrancy Task Force are working to complete a regional inventory of cultural assets in the Upstate. The inventory will include: sculptures, murals, art galleries, museums, indoor and outdoor performance venues, events and festivals, and more.
The resulting inventory will be input into an interactive map and can be used by residents and tourists for a culturally immersive experience.
The More the Merrier
Each map represents countless hours of research and data entry by volunteers who see the importance of taking a regional inventory of our resources, services, and assets. At the time of their unveiling the maps will be as comprehensive and accurate as possible and will continue to be updated as new organizations and services become available. A link on the map will allow users to submit information about new points that should be added to the map.
Each of the four maps will be available on both the Ten at the Top website (www.tenatthetop.org) and the Information Hub website (www.OurUpstateSC.info). In addition, a link will be available for each of the maps, allowing it to be embedded in other websites.