Garden Valley Database
Garden Valley, CA 95633


Capacity Inventory Database Project
Final Completion July 2002

Available to see at the Garden Valley Fire Department
Please verify if a hard copy still available.
Otherwise, check with Judy Layland, Director from Garden Valley
with the Area Recreation District (Divide Recreation District), of Stephanie Root, Greenwood, our consultant.


Marie Griffith and Marty Shelton, Co-Chairs
Garden Valley Community Association 
Community Action Plan Committee


We are a thriving community that values sustainable rural living.
We are giving and loving folks who nurture the diversity of individuals
and the strength of the whole. And we have fun doing it!


This document is a summary of the Capacity Inventory Database Project to be incorporated into the Community Action Plan. It is a semi-detailed overview of the entire project, its successes and its challenges, in order to provide information on the overall process to interested Garden Valley residents, the U.S. Forest Service, as well as rural communities that may wish to duplicate the process. Since there was no previous model for the database using Microsoft® Access 2000, the project's design and implementation were based on our committee's research, creativity, intuition, determination, will, lots of volunteer time (including taking community college classes in beginning and advanced Access 2000 Database Design) and last, but not least, our love for our community.


Our original committee consisted of Marie Griffith, Marty Shelton, and Judy Ryland, who were all Garden Valley Community Association (GVCA) officers during the grant writing process that started in 2000. Later the committee was expanded to include Nancy Mundt and Marion Cole. Our group's desire was for Garden Valley to be a thriving, prosperous, and self-sustaining community, and we felt that obtaining the Community Action Plan grant would further this desire. At the top of this page is Garden Valley's vision statement. That statement was created much later in the grant process via a powerful visioning workshop, led by Jill Devou at the Marshall Grange, assisted by Stephanie Root and attended by about 16 enthusiastic Garden Valley residents. The group crafted a beautiful and representative vision for our community that closely coincided with the committee's original intention for Garden Valley.


To reach our vision, we knew we needed to reach out beyond our comfort zone into the community and obtain a more complete picture of Garden Valley's prime asset: the social capital of its residents, organizations and small businesses and their personal desires, skills and capacities. We felt this would be vital in helping to ensure a thriving, self-sustaining community while maintaining our rich rural quality of life.
As a result, our Grant Committee, comprised initially of three members, wrote a grant proposal asking for funding for not only a Community Action Plan and Consultant/Facilitator but also a Database/Surveyor component to more effectively fulfill our stated purpose. Through the surveyor component, and the committee commitment, we feel we have fulfilled our purpose by providing a valuable asset to Garden Valley residents and a valid supplement to our Community Action Plan. 


Our Community Action Grant Committee of the GVCA, a 501c4 organization, discovered that a number of rural communities believed that they could build their community by an inventory of deficiencies. 
Our research showed that strong and thriving communities are basically places where the capacities of local residents, organizations, and small businesses are identified, valued, and used. Weak communities are places that fail to recognize, acknowledge, and mobilize all the skills, capacities and talents of the residents. It was also noted that when just a few individuals carry the community's activities and vision and those individuals relocate or change interests or move on to other organizations, then their activities and visions fall by the wayside without new community leaders and volunteer residents (waiting in the wings) to take their place. We felt that if organizations do not grow and replenish themselves with new volunteer talent, they often get stale and fail to be the asset or make the contribution that is possible.

As a result, our committee saw the importance of an asset-based community action plan. Our research primarily included a review of the 20 years of research of Northwestern University, via John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, who documented how groups, with guidance, revitalized their underserved communities. His work was summarized in the landmark book, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets, Evanston, IL: Institute for Policy Research (1993)." 

We also consulted with Deborah Punteney, Ph.D. at the Institute of Policy Research on Rural Communities. Dr. Punteney was willing to talk to our committee chair, without charge, to give advice on the content of the letters to the community (see Attachments 1 and 2) and the questions to ask on our skills survey. As a result of our research, as well as our own intuitive knowing and experience, we felt that by going out and contacting residents one-on-one and by asking the right questions, with a caring attitude, we could give a large portion of our residents a chance to participate with ideas and help us to build a database of assets and skills at the same time. We would also provide leadership skills for both the committee members and surveyors and provide opportunities for joining and networking within the overall community via direct, personal contact and thought-provoking questions. Responding to the survey, we knew, might well give each participant a feeling of, "Yes, I do have a great many skills, some of which I may want to share from time to time. I may even be able to generate some income from some of these skills or use them to trade for needed services. I might even learn skills I am interested in."


Part of our challenge was to educate the other members of GVCA on the benefits of the Community Action Plan grant and the surveying process. Some members of the community were skeptical. A number of community members wanted the community to stay exactly as it is and felt perhaps the grant would encourage people to change things, build sub-divisions, bring in big business and perhaps even sidewalks. We assured them that this was unrealistic because of our remote location, access, infrastructure, zoning and our own desires for maintaining a peaceful, non-congested, rural life-style. We tried to emphasize that nothing stays exactly the way it is. Some development will happen because landowners retire and sell parcels. People build homes and businesses on property that they own. It is called property rights and personal freedom in alignment with the zoning and the general plan. Our survey would help ensure our quality of life, not hinder it. We felt that if we did not have a vision and a plan, we would have much more of a chance to lose the quality of life that we had, much less have a chance to make it better for all residents. After some friendly dialogue there was 100 percent buy-in among the GVCA officers and sufficient buy-in among the active GVCA members to proceed enthusiastically.


The grant was administered by the Sierra Economic Development District (SEDD). SEDD announced the award of the grant and placed the ads (our committee furnished the copy) for surveyors (see Attachment 3) in our local Georgetown Gazette and two area newspapers. We requested applicants with good people and interviewing skills, transportation, access to e-mail, some computer skills, and a willingness to work full or part-time for several months as an independent contractor, averaging about $12 per hour. We preferred Garden Valley residents, if possible. After approximately three weeks, we had 19 applicants to interview. 


The interviewing and selection process provided leadership and personal growth experience to our committee as we had to devise original questions to ask each or the applicants, making sure we asked each applicant the same questions, schedule interviews to meet the time constraints of the committee members and the interviewees, perform the interviews, analyze the resumes, and then meet to carefully tally the interview results to finally decide on which five to choose. We felt meeting the applicants personally was important as they would be representing the Garden Valley Community Association in our community.

We allowed 15 minutes for each interview, and on the day of the interviews, 17 of the 19 who sent resumes showed up for the interview. Because of the time constraints of the committee, we kept everything as organized as possible, though we did go over the overall time allotment. We had a list of questions that we thought were important to ask.

Have you ever done any "cold calling" by phone for an appointment?
How would you handle an angry/rude resident that you had called for an interview?

(We felt these were important questions even though we planned to mail out an announcement letter to every resident in the Garden Valley 95633 zip code introducing each of the surveyors and summarizing the entire process.)

Another important question we decided to ask was: Do you feel confident in your ability to take a resident's "No" without any regret or an attitude? as we felt there may be a number of no's at first, and there were a few.

After the interview process, two of the committee members personally notified both the successful and unsuccessful candidates. The age of the chosen surveyors ranged from the mid-50s to a 17-year-old leadership student from Golden Sierra, the local high school. The five surveyors chosen were: Sonia Wilson, Mary Tyler, Leigh Gallagher, Brian Reeves and Chris Shelton.

The surveyors were required to check in weekly to report on their progress, attend regular update meetings, and turn in detailed timesheets (see Attachment 12) that were approved and forwarded to SEDD for payment.


After the Grant was awarded, there was a general bulk mailing to all Postal Customers of 95633 to let them know someone would likely be calling them in the following month to ask for an appointment for an interview along with stating the purpose of the interview and answering any questions. (see Attachment 2).


We provided training to the surveyors via weekly meetings, with co-chairs Marie Griffith and Marty Shelton leading the training. Of course the surveyors participated and made suggestions to one another during the meeting, sharing their own experiences. We spent a number of hours on the nature of the project and why it would benefit the community and how it could serve residents personally so the interviewers would be prepared to answer resident questions effectively.

We also did some role-playing in the calling of residents to get their buy-in in participating in the database and survey. With research, our committee furnished names and phone numbers of residents to the surveyors via the voter registration rolls, property ownership rolls in the area.  
Grant money provided for the printing and mailing of the announcements. Committee members wrote the letter, stapled the letters and help fold them. There were approximately 1450 mailed. There were two mailings. One announced the initial mailed survey for the Community Action Plan and the second announced the asset/skill survey for the database.


A little over mid-way through the interview/survey process, four of the five surveyors made presentations at a monthly GVCA community meeting to summarize their experiences and describe the value they had obtained for themselves out of the process. The five-minute talks by each of the surveyors were very informative and well received by community members. Public speaking was a challenge for several of the surveyors, but they said they enjoyed it and noted that it provided some leadership training via organizing their presentations and then presenting to the approximately 25 community members present.

Before we had reached our committee's target of 400 interviews, three of the five surveyors did not ask to extend their contracts. The extension was partly necessary because the database was still in the design stage. The high school student completed all her interviews and entered most of them into the computer. The other three surveyors transferred their remaining survey and inputting hours to our fifth surveyor, whom we referred to as our champion surveyor as he had time to stay past the deadline and contact all the names that were left by the other surveyors. He also took responsibility for arranging for all the remaining surveys to be keyed into the computer. It turned out was a master at getting people to be interviewed on the phone, which greatly speeded up the process. A personal interview often took one hour or more and many residents felt it was too time consuming. The telephone interview, performed by our fifth surveyor sometimes took only 35 minutes. In the future, we may look for ways to reduce the size of the survey so it can be completed on the phone or in person in 15 to 25 minutes. The committee felt that this could be done with not too much effort, as many of the questions were general and covered adequately in the first survey. 


A major challenge was the database. We wanted to design a database that would be useful for the next 50 years, one that could be easily expanded or modified as needed. We designed it to benefit residents rather than to do a study of residents. The committee chair had some training in databases and volunteered to set up the initial database with the help of her husband, an experienced computer person.

Designing a useful database took a lot more skill and expertise than anticipated because of its size and complexity. It had to be designed so that data entry and queries or searches could be easily performed by novices. There were numerous pages of questions, and we were told the size of the database was much larger and more complicated than most. An eight-week course in Access 2000 was taken by the committee chair at the local college to get tutoring for the more difficult parts of the design including the Switchboard Manager (See Attachment 4). Hundreds of hours were spent fine turning the database design, whose format, now perfected, can be shared with other interested communities. After we debugged the database, it became easy to use and key into. The surveys were long and had many questions so it took the surveyors between 30 to 50 minutes to key-in each survey at first. With experience, and depending on amount of information to be keyed in, the time was cut by about 25%.


Thus far we have interviewed 282 residents that have been fully entered into the database, 74 small businesses, and 11 local organizations for a total of 367 one-on-one interviews entered into the database. An occasional survey is still being turned in for those who want to be a part of the database and use its resources. We are now looking for help in keeping the database current and making it more available to the community for jobs, networking, resources and expanding its use.

Most of the information in the Capacity Database is in a form to share with residents, though more work should continue to add more queries and more reports. Additional forms would also be helpful in allowing residents to enter their own information into the database. However, developing forms requires more skill than queries and reports. 

So far we have created 70 different searches for different skills. We have created six forms (see Attachment 5) and 23 individual reports (see Appendix 6). We could easily double the numbers of those items, as we have a generous amount of information on which to run sample queries. That could be easily accomplished with a regular part-time person to maintain the system and act as a liaison with the community in match residents with wants, needs, and jobs.

A number or the residents were concerned with privacy and did not want the information to be made available on the Internet at this time. Privacy of the residents is maintained by providing summary reports of the skill, whether it is a wanted skill (to hire or to learn) or a skill offered to the community by resident, with only name and phone number and email address of the resident. No address or other information is given out without permission. That enables folks to give their gifts, contribute their talents and/or increase their income or effectiveness without compromising privacy. This database was not designed to do a study of residents but to benefit residents.


What are some of the skills you would be willing to trade, learn, or offer neighbors? (Categories given below)

Health/Care Giving Skills? Construction Skills? Maintenance Skills? Creative Skills? Leadership Skills? Project Management Skills? Clerical/Sales Skills? Selling Skills? Service Occupation Skills?
(see Attachment 7)

Is anyone in your family looking for a job locally? Type? Skills?

If you are a small business, do you anticipate hiring additional persons in the future? How many? Qualifications? Will you take Trainees?

What adult education courses would you like to see added on the Divide to enhance your job, employees' or other skills?

Are you interested in starting a business? What kind?

What do you love to do?

What skills do you have to share with the community that you would charge for? (Here we will furnish a list that can be expanded).

Are you willing to donate 1 hour or more a month to community in a donated skill that you have? What would that be? Other? Telephone tree?

What would you love to do for your community?


Residents can find people to care for their elder parents or younger children, drivers, babysitters, yard workers, accountants, bookkeepers, volunteers, people to cut their trees, trim their bushes, fix their cars, give massages, plant a garden, paint a picture, sing, dance, design websites, give real estate help, design and build cabinets and homes and roads, train horses, visit seniors. They can also obtain a list of people who want to learn many of the skills just listed. If they have a service to trade, donate or sell to the community and are not on this database and live in Garden Valley (and soon to be expanded, hopefully to the entire Georgetown Divide) they can list their talents on this database and feel free to use the list of the talents and capacities of their friends and neighbors. It is a pleasant surprise just how talented our rural residents are. Most anything that most people want or do is probably in our database or, if not, it will be in the near future. 

The above information has been made easy to access via the Switchboard, a screen that is part of the database interface (see Attachment 4). The Switchboard needs to be expanded for more and more items to be added.


Although we performed more than 367 surveys, there were a few things that need to be expanded and were more or less incomplete. We indicated to the Forest Service that it was our hope that at the conclusion of the survey, the surveyors would have time to help connect interested individuals to individuals, groups, programs or to financing that would assist them in creating or developing a small business. That was very ambitious, and only a limited part of this goal was accomplished because of the magnitude of the whole project. Surveyors did, however, report helping residents with some resources as they went along -information was passed on to residents on occasion or to those who asked for a referral.
It was also planned to have more time to connect individuals' general and community skills to other residents, associations, local community groups or activities. That has been done to some degree. The GVCA officers were furnished a list of volunteers for different organizations, such as a list of volunteers that were wiling to help with the July 4 event and a list that would help with the People's Mountain Market, and another list that would help with the Harvest Festival and yet another to help with the Hot August Picnic and Dance. The Marshall Grange was furnished a list of volunteers that might help with Grange community activities such as the Bistro. More lists could be distributed with more volunteer help and/or funding. 

For now, we will advertise the information available on the database and let the residents search for the resources and jobs needed on a by-request basis. That is now being done by the local website and flyers are being prepared with information that is available. The information is there; the residents must ask for what they want and make an appointment with a GVCA Community Action Committee member or a GVCA member to provide it from the GVCA computer that is kept at GVCA section of the Marshal Grange Office. They can come to the GVCA meeting the first Thursday of every month at the Marshall Grange. Also, the Grange is open to the public the fourth Monday night or each month at 6:30 PM for a Pot-Luck and a number of GVCA committee members usually attend and would probably be glad to run queries or reports requested by residents. An appointment can also be made with a GVCA member to arrange for help to enter new residents on the database. There is a profile Form sheet on the database where residents can initially enter themselves with just a little coaching if they have some computer skill. However there are no forms for the different categories, so an experienced GVCA member must help them until either forms are created or we have a regular part-time person to enter the information. We are also talking about having a hard copy of "sample forms" available at the Garden Valley Fire Station for residents to look through for general information. 

Towards the end of the grant period, the committee narrowed down to two to three people for most of the project completion, primarily the co-chairs, as the project lasted longer than expected and other members had busy schedules and other commitments. We suggest that other interested communities should maintain at least five active workers on the committee rather than just two or three, as the project, though very worthwhile, can be very labor intensive, depending on the length of the survey. Of course, with the database already designed, the scope of the project would be lessened considerably.


Beyond the scope of the promised result, the committee also designed both a Youth Survey (see Attachment 8) and a Most Elder Survey that were used by the surveyors. Our High School surveyor did an excellent job interviewing the youth at Golden Sierra high school, Divide Continuation high and at Georgetown Middle School. The purpose of the Most Elder Survey was to identify our population that was mid-70s and up. The Most Elder questionnaire was shorter and easier to complete for our elder population. 

Through the Most Elder Survey (Figure 10) Garden Valley's senior population can now be considered as living treasures, and, it is hoped, as a result of this survey, GVCA will continue to recognize them for their many extraordinary contributions. Inspired by this survey, a number of our most elder couples were honored this past Valentine's Day at the Marshal Grange's annual Valentine Pot-Luck and Dance. Most of these couples had been married in excess of 50 years. However, there are many more elders in the community to acknowledge and honor. Many of these remarkable individuals continue to give back to their communities even after years and years of service. A large number of them have changed the lives of their neighbors and others they have come in contact with.


The committee also designed a Business and Organization Survey as an addendum to the Adult Survey. Questions were asked that were applicable to Garden Valley organizations and small businesses (see Attachment 10).


See Attachment 11 for the full copy of the Capacity/Asset Survey that was used by the surveyors. Only the sections that were applicable to the resident were completed. During the course of the survey, it was discovered that we could not ask every question in every section. So we ended up asking which categories they had experience in or which categories were they interested in obtaining help or skills.
Kirby and Stephanie Root, Greenwood,
Phone:. (530) 745 9588
which includes this report as an appendix