There were four shootings in Bermuda last week. Four. This is a miniscule number for South Central LA. It is a huge number for Bermuda.
It made me think about our wellbeing as a community. More than an index of national happiness, which seems all the rage at present; a wellbeing index touches on all facets of our life, crosses all sections of governance and appears to build on the tenets of the healthy communities movement, which I've touched on before.
Santa Monica, CA, is working on this already. According to Jessica Leber's article, How a Well-Being Index for Cities is Taking Shape in California, for Fast Company, city officials of this affluent LA 'burb were dismayed by the public gang shooting of a local resident and the public suicide of a 9th-grader, and now are working with experts around the world to develop the metric for a Wellbeing Index. It is not a small task but with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, The Wellbeing Project is well underway. The work involves using economics, social science, public policy, public health, technology, environment, and behavioral science to tell city officials how people are doing.
As outlined in the white paper, A City of Wellbeing by Karen Warner and Margaret Kern for the City of Santa Monica, wellbeing indexes can have several different goals. It depends on what challenge you are seeking to address. Basically, though, as the white paper states, the purpose of a Wellbeing Index is threefold:
- to understand the initial state of wellbeing for a community,
- to identify disparities and domains where wellbeing falls short, and,
- to identify areas to strengthen or adjust policies and programs to sustain existing levels of wellbeing and build additional wellbeing.
This is more enriching and comprehensive in scope than a Happiness Index or a State of the Environment Report; it has the benefit of involving and combining all aspects of our lives. Santa Monica hopes its efforts will result in a Wellbeing Index that can be adapted for use by others. Let's hope this happens and that it works. Bermuda needs a helping hand.