SHARPENING FOCUS

Governments around the world are starting to recognize that economic growth alone does not determine a community’s success. True measures of progress take into account the wellbeing of people. Santa Monica is part of a global movement which recognizes that 20th century tools for assessing prosperity and progress are not working well enough in the 21st century. Governments need to set priorities and make decisions based on improving residents' wellbeing.

A community is a place whose residents share a distinctive common interest. They come together not by chance, but because they want the place they call home to improve their lives. That place needs to provide for their most basic needs, allow them to earn a living, and be a haven for their children. And it also needs to allow them to relax, to be exposed to new ideas, and to feel contentment. It's not only that the people are happy. It’s that when everything comes together, the people thrive. And so does the community.

In some cases, we've been keeping information about those things—like education, health, and transportation. Some of them—like measures of our contentment or our stress levels—are new. Understanding them takes new ways of gathering information.

When we can count something, we can see if we're moving it in the direction we want it to go. It's easy to figure out if there's less crime than there was last month or last year. It's a little harder to know if we're feeling more fulfilled than we were last week.

Sure, it's harder to measure, but it is possible. And that's what we're here to do.