Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Measuring Personal Happiness

Shawn Tuttle, of Project Simplify, suggests that we look at Redefining Progress' Genuine Progress Indicator and adapt it to our personal lives.

Shawn writes:

We can increase the efficacy of our efforts with useful indicators. Something to remind us of our chosen direction, something by which to evaluate the progress made since the last marker. Just as important as the use of of markers, is what is being measured. Indicators that are aligned with your values unify your efforts, clear your course, and turbo-boost you towards your goals.

The importance of effective indicators is evident when considering how you would know that you are on track if you didn’t have them. When hiking a path for the first time, we depend on landmarks, trail signs, and a cleared path to know that we are on track.

Markers based in your values serve as those landmarks and trail signs. You’ve heard the stories of people who wake up one day, look around them, and realize they are in a career they don’t care about. Where were the markers to keep them on track with their dreams?

For those of us who work with community indicators, how often do we put the same concepts into practice in our own lives? Do you have a personal set of indicators that keeps you on target towards your personal vision of an improved quality of life?

Be sure to read the rest of the article here. Then check out a similar blog entry at Get Shouty's blog.

Again leaning on the experiences of Bhutan, the author here turns not inward, to the self, but outward to the community, in exploring the attempts to create a place of happiness in Australia. Be sure to check out the photo -- I hope that brought a smile to your face.

From the article:

Much closer (for me) to home is a street campaign that I saw when I was last in Melbourne. I was reminded of it today through a post Australians taking it upon themselves to create a vibrant community on Mack-tastic’s The Viral Garden.

This local government has started a series of Sustainable Community Progress Indicators (SCPI) which compares and prompts the sight of smiles across the city.

I believe that this is an expression of an initiative of VicHealth. Suggestions to “smile at the person next to you” at bus stops, “walk instead” in car parks and “catch up with friends” are among 50 messages that will be shared with the population.The health promotion organisation will also stencil streets in the cities of Darebin, Melbourne and Bayside in a bid to encourage people to get active and socialise as part of every day life.

Is it reasonable to think of "happiness" as part of a set of community indicators? How would you go about measuring it? And what can a community do to change its "happiness index" -- is VicHealth on the right track?


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