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Happiness Data Playbook For A City


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Over 38,000 people have taken the Gross National Happiness Index and over 120 cities, communities and campuses are using the Gross National Happiness. They have their happiness scores and are asking - now what? The Happiness Data Playbook offers ideas for policy makers and community activists to use the data for the happiness, sustainability and wellbeing of all. Inspired by the World Happiness Report, Legatum Institute Wellbeing and Policy report, and other documents, this document includes links to examples and resources.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Happiness Data Playbook For A City

  1. 1. Happiness Data Playbook for a City
  2. 2. What does happiness have to do with any of this?
  3. 3. Over 100 areas have gathered data using the Gross National Happiness Index. They have their scores. They are asking: WHAT NOW?
  4. 4. The Happiness Data Playbook for a City is a guide for policy makers and activist to take action for happiness, sustainability and resilience based on their area’s Gross National Happiness Scores.
  5. 5. Our sources for these project, policies and programs
  6. 6. Standard of Living/Material Well-being/Economy Happiness science tells us that our happiness is impacted more by what our wealth is in comparison to others than the amount of goods or our wealth alone. In addition. There are many positive connections with greater income equality including health, psychology and safety. The Easterlin Paradox tells us that happiness increases greatly as your salary increases up to a certain point – about 75K for a family of four no matter where they live in the US. After this, there are only marginal and diminishing returns to happiness as income increases. The Easterlin Paradox is true for countries across the globe, although the amount varies. Note that short term happiness does increase with a big win or boost in salary, but will return to prior levels in 2 weeks – 6 months. Your areas average scores for standard of living/material well-being are likely high, but if you look at specific populations or the difference between those who self assess high and those who self assess low, you will find a large spread, with some scoring themselves as low as 1 others as high as 9.5 or even 10. And studies tell us that everyone’s wellbeing increases when no one in an area is suffering economically. In other words, as the gap between rich and poor decreases, everyone’s happiness increases. “Jobs” is often the answer to alleviate economic suffering. Happiness data helps to point to the populations the jobs will most help.
  7. 7. income Standard of Living/Material Well-being/Economy Minimum Wage Laws to help low-income workers and their families. An example process: 1) Mayor forms an Income Inequality Advisory Committee that includes representatives from labor, business, and non-profits to make recommendations. 2) Mayor makes a proposal to the City Council. 3) City Council forms a Select Committee to make recommendations. 4) City Council votes. example minimum wage ordinance:
  8. 8. Standard of Living/Material Well-being/Economy Inclusionary Zoning Laws – zoning laws define how you can use your property. Inclusionary zoning is being used in some areas to increase diversity and inclusion in neighborhoods. Inclusionary zoning requires large housing units or housing development projects to dedicate a portion of their units to lower income households. example inclusionary zoning laws:
  9. 9. Standard of Living/Material Well-being/Economy Reengaging Disconnected Youth Programs - Up to one forth of 16- 24 year olds are not in school or employed. Cities often collaborate with nonprofits to offer job training and employment, secondary and post secondary education, substance abuse counseling, community service, mentor networking, early childhood & juvenile programs, arts& recreation programs, financial literacy and health care. source: Risk%20Youth/disconnected-youth-action-kit-apr07.pdf
  10. 10. Standard of Living/Material Well-being/Economy Green Energy Investment City-owned utilities investing in green energy often starts with a goal for renewable megawatts and solar or wind power installations. Jobs can come from investment in manufacturing, education, research & development, as well as incentive programs. example Green Energy Investment: example Green Energy incentive programs:
  11. 11. Governance Science tells us that participating in the democratic process leads to a deeper sense of happiness and wellbeing. Moreover, research indicates that when governance quality increases, people’s wellbeing increases. Governance systems include the judicial system, the police system and the legislative process. Scores in the domain of governance are consistently low for most every area. Confidence in local and federal government, ability to influence public officials and corruption are measured. The most common objective metric used to measure participation in government is voting rates. Consistently low scores could indicate a degree of crisis in belief that one can make a difference or counts when it comes to politics. Measuring citizen happiness and using this data to inform decisions for allocation of resources and promulgation of policy is one way to reengage voters and rebuild trust in government. Subjective wellbeing surveys are also a way to create a feedback loop between the recipients of services and the people, departments and bureaucracies providing services, which is proven to increase satisfaction with government services.
  12. 12. Almedalen Political Festival modeled after a Swedish program: An annual 3-day to week long public meeting for politicians, the public, journalists and NGOs. All parties have equal opportunity. In Sweden, the political festival is national event. In Denmark, cities and regions hold politial festivals for shorter times (3 days). Governance example:
  13. 13. Participatory Budgeting Citizens meet with policy makers to come to agreement on the priorities for part of the local government budget for their neighborhood or the city and help the implementation of projects or policies. Governance source: example:
  14. 14. Social Media & E-Government New York City has over 300 social media channels, from you tube for the environmental protection department to facebook for the mayor’s office. NYC also took a hint from Beijing city in implementing E-Government, where by internal and external (everything from filing in court to monitoring programs and forming policy), suppliers and other is streamlined through use of information technology. Governance example: resource:
  15. 15. Community A sense of safety, trust in others and giving in terms of volunteerism and donations are measured in the community domain. Encouraging and facilitating volunteerism in a city or rural area is likely a crucial strategy to happiness for residents and the sustainability of a city or rural community. Community and social support is likely the most important life circumstance that influences our happiness. A strong sense of community has impacts on our psychological and physical health, participation in the democratic process, our local economy and how we treat nature.
  16. 16. National Citizen Service for Youth is a program that provides leadership development and team building to high school youth during school breaks. Youth spend the 3 days – 2 weeks hiking and team building, followed by a week of residential volunteer work. They identify their passion and develop a social action project that meets a need in their community. They then spend 30 hours implementing the project in their community. They also receive mentoring. Some programs offer students about $100 to complete the program, others are funded or supported by companies. source & example: mm Community example: source:
  17. 17. Parking Days – one day whereby anyone transform a parking space into a mini-park. Here, a woman is giving away starts. Community example:
  18. 18. Social Support Personal relationships, feeling loved, feeling that people caring about one are all aspects of social support. A personal safety net helps one when they need help, such as when out of a job, homeless or seriously ill. Safety nets can come from family and friends and policies and programs that help people when they are in need. Where governments provide strong safety nets, people self-assess themselves happier than others living in a city, state or country where safety nets are the job of family or non-governmental organizations, or non-existent. Happiness science tells us that you will be about as happy as those whose company you keep. This means one should choose one’s friends wisely and make choices about one’s own life circumstances and way of being to be good company. Some of the most unhappy places on earth are those where people feel the utmost of danger: countries suffering under civil warfare. The ability to meet one’s psychological and safety needs are necessary to the pursuit of happiness.
  19. 19. Rights to Fresh Air is part of Eldercare in Denmark and it is illegal to imprison people with dimentia in locked wards. At Lotte, the rockstar of eldercare in Copenhagen, elders and caregivers look like a family, even falling in love in old age. The home, like many in Denmark, is small (about 20 -30 elders). Elders are provided kitchenettes and meals are together. Social Support example:
  20. 20. Lifelong learning Lifelong learning is not necessarily tied to education levels. Certainly one learns from formal education, but there are many ways to learn informally. Lifelong learning can be a portal to greater happiness and reaching one’s full potential. Emerging science tells us that we learn throughout our lives on many levels: intellectual, emotional, moral, social, intrapersonal, strategic, spiritual, musical, mathematical, kinesthetic/somatic affective, spatial, psychosexual and others. One can be highly developed on one level, but not on another (such as highly intellectual but not moral).
  21. 21. Apprenticeship programs offer training and job experience, sometimes structured to allow a person an education without debt. Rochester, NY passed an ordinance that requires city construction projects over a certain amount to offer apprenticeships. San Fernando, CA Mariachi Masters apprentice program for youth fosters the local heritage and has lead to increased high school graduation rates and number of students pursuing higher education. Lifelong learning example: & cultural-art-programs/mariachi-master-apprentice-program-mmap/
  22. 22. Chicago's Botanical Gardens are open to the public and free. In addition to opportunities to learn about nature and plant identification, the garden offers a host of classes for adults ranging from arts and crafts, photography, cooking or master gardener classes. There is also an urban agriculture job training program for youth and a conservation program. The garden is expanding to include more classrooms for fitness programs and a children’s garden. Lifelong learning example:
  23. 23. Arts & culture Arts and culture include the sports, visual art, literature, music, theatre, film, dance, cuisine, language, social habit, religion and the beliefs and customs of a society, group or geographic region. A city or rural region devoid of arts and culture is devoid of character, and conversely, thriving societies, economies and natural environments are often tied to a strong sense of an areas culture. A strong sense of culture is closely ties with a strong sense of community, and can help bolster one’s sense of community. Community is highly correlated with personal happiness and wellbeing for all.
  24. 24. Arts & culture Limit or Ban Marketing to Children. A few cities limit or ban marketing to children. Quebec does allow children to be subject to “treatment whose design appeals particularly to the instinctual needs of children so as to arouse their interest” such as undue use of a child’s voice, magic and fantasy themes, exploitation of parent-child bonds, animation, and music that particularly appeals to children. example:
  25. 25. Cultural Policy. Sydney, Australia’s cultural policy promotes creativity in the arts, such as public art, festivals, live performances and music, creative hubs and partnerships to foster expressions of creativity and creative spaces. The cultural policy includes plans to develop a fellowship program, artist housing, street and building murals, and foster appreciation of aboriginal culture and its expression. Arts & culture example
  26. 26. Work Productivity, autonomy, appreciation, and levels of interest are measured in the work domain. Work comprises about one third of a person’s waking life. Work is also an important factor that determines whether a person will stay in a city or rural region or stay. Many cities and rural communities area starting to understand the difference between job creation and quality job creation that serves local people who need and will benefit from the jobs as opposed to new jobs that bring in non-locals and leave local with fewer and fewer options on many levels. Happiness science tells us that happiness at work highly tied to work that demands one’s highest capacity and greatest interests brings about happiness, greater productivity and better results. Another way to say this is work that enables one to “self-actualize” brings about better results for all – the employee, the employer and society at large.
  27. 27. Workforce Development for the homeless, people not literate in English and ex-cons is provided by the City of Chicago through various agencies. Industry specific training, placement and support through the first six months of work, transitional jobs which provides subsidized employment paired with skills development and other services, and community re-entry support centers for ex-offenders that provides employment assistance, housing, counseling and family reunification services are provided. Work example:
  28. 28. Time Balance Time balance scores are consistently the lowest of all domain scores for most every area. There are two types of time imbalance: not having enough time to do everything you want to do, and not having enough time to do all the things you don’t want to do. Studies show that when people work over 40 hours, no matter how much they are paid or love their jobs, their wellbeing suffer. Flextime, compressed work-week, Job sharing (2 part time employees for one FT position), telecommuting and permanent part time (often 30 hours a week, with employee deciding hours and days working), wellness-leave (as opposed to sick leave) days, shortened work hours for parents of small children or sick elders and limits on long work hours or overnight working and are a few solutions employers have used to manage time balance. Happiness science tells us that the most unhappy times are commutes to work. The most unhappy days are Tuesday, (not Monday) and we are happiest on the weekends or holidays.
  29. 29. Time Balance Transportation System. Copenhagen is famous for being bicycle friendly, but metro, train, ferry, road and bus system work together to provide one of the most complete transportation systems. Up to half commute are by bike, with city-provided public bikes available. Most bike lanes are separated from traffic or on greenways. Regional trains connects suburban areas to the city, trains serve the urban neighborhoods and buses and an underground metro system serves the city. The same ticket can be used for trains, metro and buses.
  30. 30. Time Balance Pedestrianized streets. Downtown Burlington, VT Church Street is pedestrian-only for four blocks. The streets were converted in the 1980s and includes over 80 retail stores. The street was resurfaced with brick, the addition of canopies and shelters and bus stops at intersections. Construction did not cause any business closures. Today, the area is vibrant with festivals, street artists, café dining and shopping. resource:
  31. 31. Time Balance Sick Leave Ordinances - The City of San Francisco Administrative Code Paid Sick Leave Ordinance provides sick leave for workers and includes part time and temp workers. In the City of Seattle, council members passed Paid Sick Leave and Paid Safe time ordinance 123698 that provides leave for illness, as well as children and elder illness. It also provides leave for domestic violence victims who need time off to ensure their own safety. example: &
  32. 32. Environment Environment scores are usually high for rural areas and low in urban areas. Questions in the survey include the topics of access to nature, efforts to conserve and restore the environment, and air quality. Access to nature and experiencing a healthy environment can be a challenge when spaces are limited and there are many factors on a global scale and outside of our control. Providing opportunities to experience and appreciate nature on a neighborhood level can help inspire hope and encourage actions to preserve and restore our environment. Happiness data gathered from apps tells us that for most of us, we are happiest when we are in nature. This can be a park, in the garden or hiking in the mountains. We experience lower stress and higher life satisfaction when we are in nature. Science is also indicating that when we spend time in nature, we get sick less.
  33. 33. Environment Daylighting streams or creeks involves restoring a stream to a more natural state. Streams or creeks that had been diverted into culvers or drainage systems are restored when parking lots, vacant lots or roads are removed. In addition the waterway, banks or “riparian zones” are rebuilt to restore the waterways natural functions, including fish and wildlife habitat, storm water management and urban watershed improvement. example:
  34. 34. Pocket parks, also called parkettes, mini-parks, vesty parks are small public spaces. They are sometimes built on vacant lots or irregular plots in a city or rural community. Plants, habitat for birds and other wildlife, gathering places and a playground can characterize a pocket park. They are often created through a partnership between community members and a city or regional government. Environment example:
  35. 35. Health Research indicates that health is more highly correlated to happiness than income. Science also shows us that the more friends one has, the less chance a person will get sick with the cold or flu. Physical health is closely tied to psychological health as well as to a sense of community and a healthy environment. Access to healthcare and life expectancy are the common metrics used to measure health. Subjective metrics gather information on how healthy and capable people feel they are, their energy levels, and satisfaction with their quality of exercise.
  36. 36. Urban Agriculture Ordinances allows small-scale farming in urban and residential areas. Keeping chickens (but not roosters), goats, beehives, and other small animals is allowed. Urban Ag ordinances also allow for farm structures and may permit selling of produce and eggs, meat, fur or animals. They may also allow for roof-top and vertical indoor farms. example: Seattle City Ordinance 123378: Health
  37. 37. Food Stamps at Farmers Markets Farmers markets in Salt Lake City, Moab and other cities in Utah accept food stamps due to a collaboration with the state department of agriculture and workforce service. The USDA helps farmers markets accept food stamps and other forms of supplemental payment from low income people. Health source:
  38. 38. Psychological Health Feeling one is part of something greater than oneself and that one has an impact on that higher sense of self are key factors in personal happiness. A person who feels they are part of something greater than themselves but have little or no impact can become depressed. Mental wellbeing or psychological wellbeing is measured using the “thriving index” and asks questions related to self-efficacy, optimism and positive self-thinking. Mental wellbeing is highly correlated to feeling happy and satisfied with life. Conversely, mental illness has a strong negative impact on an individuals happiness. The World Happiness Report 2013 places high priority on mental health.
  39. 39. Mental Illness Treatment -Training to primary healthcare providers (general practice doctors, nurses and community health workers) for recognizing and treating mental illness using the World Health Organization guidelines. It is being used in some rural areas in China for epilepsy (where it was considered possession by evil spirits), cities in Nigeria for mentally disabled children, and cities in India and Sri Lanka for students vulnerable to suicide. Psychological Health source: en/ example:
  40. 40. Mindfulness in Schools is integrated into primary school curricula by training teachers on mindfulness practices and how to guide children through mindfulness to help them learn how to “pay attention.” Mindfulness training is based on scientific development for secular use and aimed at helping children focus on their breathing and practice loving kindness. Psychological Health example:
  41. 41. Psychological Health Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs in schools. Teachers are trained to integrate SEL into the curriculum so that SEL lessons are taught every day. Children learn the social and behavioral skills needed to be successful. Lessons including social problem solving, relationship skills, social awareness, self awareness, dispute innovation, communication, resilience and capacity to deal with uncertainty, and decision making. &
  42. 42. This is a working document. We intend to keep building it. This is a working document. We intend to keep building it.
  43. 43. HHaavvee aann iiddeeaa?? Let us know. happy@happycounts.or Let us know. happy@happycounts.or g g
  44. 44. Join the Happiness Revolution Take the Gross National Happiness Index Use the Gross National Happiness Index for your project or area
  45. 45. More ideas on happiness in practice and policy for governments: Happiness in Public Policy by Laura Musikanski