Sub-System I Physical Environment – The Windshield Survey
Windshield surveys involve simple observation, the collection of data that will help characterize the community, the trends, stability, and changes that will affect the health of the community. Using the Windshield survey as a guide, drive a car, take public transportation or walk a neighborhood. Only utilize your five senses for the collection of data – there is no need to include data from websites in this section (I understand ONLY using the 5 senses may not be possible so please include sources, which I will then omit as needed). Present a narrative assessment of your community. Follow the guide below and address the following:
Age? Construction, condition, repair? Separate? Connected? Yards?
Environmental and Open Space
Green space? Trees, parks, lawns. How used? Public or private? Terrain? Safety hazards? Sounds and odors? Pleasant, noxious? Source? Sources of pollution? Type of boundaries (neutral, physical, or economic)? Are there distinct neighborhoods? Name or identity?
Types (plane, car, train, bus, walk)? Availability and condition of streets and roads? Major highway near? Is public transportation available? Transport for those with special needs? How access?
What types of stores are there? How do residents get to the stores? How do the prices compare with other areas? Where do people gather? Do they form groups? Who are they? What times of day?
On the Street
What people do you see on the streets during the day? Homeless? Animals-strays, watchdogs, pets, wild animals (i.e., deer)?
Signs of Decay
Is the community young and growing? Mature? Is it “alive”? Trash, abandoned cars, political posters, real estate signs, abandoned houses mixed zoning usage?
What evidence do you see of various ethnic groups, races, cultures? Eating places? What is the predominant language and are any others heard?
Of what religion are the majority of residents? Places of worship? Types?
What safety services (fire, police, EMS) are available?
How far is it to the nearest hospital or clinic? Nearest public health facilities?
Recreation centers, signs of activity at schools or parks
Any political posters? What parties? Evidence of community groups? Nearest public offices?
Outdoor television antennas? What print media is read? Is there a community newsletter? Community event signs? Signs of community pride? Industry? Type?
Note. Adapted from “Community as partner: Theory and practice in nursing” by E. Anderson & J. McFarlane, 1998, 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven Publishers, p. 186. Previously adapted from Terry Mizrahl, School of Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University. Adapted with permission.
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