Over 120 state leaders and activists convened on May 30th at UVM for the “Measuring What Matters” Conference. Presented by the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, Gross National Happiness USA, and Common Good Vermont – partners in improving the sustainable well-being of Vermonters. The conference comes on the heels of the Vermont State legislature passing S.237, now Act 113, related to the now-required usage of the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) as a measure of comprehensive sustainability and well-being for Vermont.
Azur Moulaert, of Earth Economics and a Gund Fellow, set the stage for the conference as he provided a global context for the usage of measurements like Gross National Happiness and GPI, reporting on the recent United Nations meeting on Well-Being. At the opening plenary session, Dr. Eric Zencey (Gund Fellow) led conference participants through the importance and basics of the Vermont Genuine Progress Indicator. Monica Casserta Hutt, Director of Policy & Planning, Vermont Agency of Human Services outlined the efforts of AHS to revive the Vermont Scorecard. Kate Jellema, Program Director, Marlboro College Graduate School summarized the work of Benchmarks for a Better Vermont to help nonprofits use Results Based Accountability ™ developed by Mark Friedman in “Trying Hard is Not Good Enough” to manage performance and measure results. Amy Carmola Hauf, Director of Community Impact & Engagement of the United Way of Chittenden County provided the basics of Results Based Accountability ™. Paula Francis summarized the nine domains of well-being advanced by Gross National Happiness USA.
Although GPI and Gross National Happiness are similar measurements, the focus of the conference was not to identify differences between the two, but to apply the most appropriate metrics and concepts from both to be applied here in Vermont for our own measurements. These larger sessions were also supplemented by smaller ‘break-out’ groups that addressed five domains (of the 9 domains of well-being) in order to develop preliminary “dashboards” of population level results that can ultimately inform efforts to develop GPI Plus: Healthy People, Education, Civic Engagement, Environment and Quality of Life.
One of the main themes of the day-long conference was the importance of collaboration and the opportunities for synergy between conference participants. There are a wide variety of initiatives currently underway in state government (e.g., Governor’s Dashboard, GPI, Health Department Score Card, Department of Libraries Strategic Planning, Climate Cabinet), regional planning (Chittenden County Regional Planning ECOS project), and the nonprofit sector (Public Assets Institute, United Ways, Benchmarks for a Better Vermont)
At lunchtime, conference attendees were treated to comments from Senator Anthony Pollina (Washington-D/P), who sponsored and presented the GPI legislation. Senator Pollina discussed the conflicts posed by traditional v. alternative metrics of well-being such as the simultaneous increase in Vermont Gross State Product along with the rise in hunger and inequality, citing the necessity for re-thinking how we measure progress as a state.
Keynote speaker Anya Rudiger of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative is working with The Vermont Workers Center on the “The People’s Budget”, recently passed by the Vermont Legislature in 2012. The new bill grounds Vermont’s budget and revenue policy in human rights and people’s needs and requires the Legislature to connect spending and revenue to people’s needs, new indicators to measure the budget’s success in meeting those needs and a new ways to generate public participation in the budget making process. Rudiger asked for participants to get involved and help to make the general statements a concrete reality.
The conference concluded with a presentation of the information collected, and ideas discussed, by the different working groups, compiled into a sample dashboard, below. Tom Barefoot of Gross National Happiness USA concluded the event with news of next steps, including the January deadline for compilation of the GPI by Gund Institute and a new Vermont Data Working Group and efforts to advance additional measures of well-being through the development of GPI Plus.
Watch Opening Keynotes Here:
Power Point Presentations
- Luncheon Keynote Video: Sen. Anthony Pollina & Anya Rudiger
- Mark Johnson Show: Interviews 5/30
- VTDigger 5/30
- Online Resources for Measuring What Matters 2012 Conference http://www.gnhusa.org/2012-resources/
Genuine Progress Indicator:
- Gund Institute for Ecological Economics www.uvm.edugiee
- Maryland Genuine Progress Indicator Site www.green.maryland.gov/mdgpi/
- The Gund Institute’s Report: Burlington GPI 1950-2000 report and overview
- Text of GPI Bill: An Act Related to the Genuine Progress Indicator
- One Page GPI Primer
Gross National Happiness:
- Take the online Gross National Happiness Well-being Survey and see your results compared with a national sample.
Use code VT012 http://happycounts.org/survey/GNH
- Seattle Happiness Report Card
- World Happiness Report http://www.gnhusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/World%20Happiness%20Report.pdf
- Gross National Happiness USA www.gnhusa.org
Results Based Accountability:
- Common Good Vermont www.commongoodvt.org
- Benchmarks for a Better Vermont & Results Based Accountability ™ www.bbvt.marlboro.edu
- The Fiscal Policy Studies Institute (home of RBA) www.resultsaccountability.com
- The People’s Budget http://www.gnhusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/World%20Happiness%20Report.pdf
- Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index http://www.well-beingindex.com/
- Greater PortlandPulse http://portlandpulse.org/
- Demos Sustainable Progress Institute http://www.demos.org/issue/sustainability-growth