In his influential book Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam presented evidence that Americans are decreasing their participation in groups (civic, youth, recreational, etc.). From the early days of European settlement in America visitors like Alexis de Tocqueville identified this sort of community engagement as one of the defining characteristics of the country.
Unfortunately, there are few measures of civic engagement that are collected systematically at the county level. In addition to one direct measure of community engagement (voter participation rates), we use some "proxies" for community engagement in this section of the web site. In particular, we present data on factors that may inhibit community engagement (long commute times, lack of English language skills, having recently moved into the jurisdiction). Counties in the St. Croix Valley tend to vote at slightly higher percentages than do citizens in their respective states. The indirect measures of community engagement are mixed (longer commutes and more newly arrived citizens but fewer language barriers to community engagement).