Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Results of "Happiness Survey" to be Released at Community Meeting Tues. 8/23

After months of surveying and analysis, the results of the Somerville Well-Being Survey will be released at a participatory community meeting on Tuesday, August 23, at 6:30 p.m. at the Somerville High School Library.

Data and findings will be discussed, including which ward rates itself as the happiest and what city aspects correlate most directly with increased or decreased happiness. Resident input for our next steps will be sought, and through a few fun activities, residents will be asked to share anecdotes and opinions about aspects of living in Somerville that impact their happiness. This qualitative anecdotal information will further inform our research. All are invited.

Inspired by researchers and governments in France and Britain, the City of Somerville became the first municipality in the United States to measure well-being. The City worked with Harvard University Psychology Professor Daniel Gilbert, who is internationally recognized for his research on happiness, to create the survey and analyze trends in results.

Ultimately, the goal of municipal governments is resident happiness be it through increased jobs, better schools and transportation options, or any number of factors that impact daily life. The aim of this survey is to both identify unexpected factors that impact happiness as well as track resident happiness over time to measure the impact of city policy. More than 6,500 residents took part in the survery and their responses include some predictable but also some surprising results we'd like to to share.

Please come share your stories and opinions on what makes you happy, and hear more about the City's efforts to collect data on happiness and life satisfaction that will inform future policies. The Somerville High School Library is accessible by entering the front door (81 Highland Ave.), and taking a right after the Main Office. The Library is down the hall to the right.

P.S. WBUR's RadioBoston was just here to interview us and they will feature the Wellbeing Survey today, Aug. 17, on their 3 p.m. show on FM 90.9.

Photo: Steve McFarland,, via Flickr

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