The Mad River Valley Planning District has launched its annual Wellbeing Survey. The Mad River Valley Planning District (MRVPD) produces an annual data report that tracks a wide range of community issues by collecting data provided by local and state entities, as well as the U.S. Census.
“This data tells us a lot about who we are and how we’re doing - but it doesn’t tell the full story. The MRV Wellbeing Survey is part of a broader project to make the data reports more relevant and specific to the The Valley and the MRV Community Dashboard by asking residents directly how they’re doing, the survey can fill in some of the gaps and provide new information that complements traditional metrics. One way it does this is by providing insight on more subjective topics such as “social connectedness,” which we know to be critical to individual and community health but is not (and generally cannot be) measured through the usual sources. Another gap experienced commonly by small communities is inaccurate or unavailable data due to sampling challenges, so subjective surveys can help by acting as a sort of fact-checker,” explained MRVTV community planner Amy Tomasso.
The survey was developed from existing well-being surveys with some Valley-specific modifications. The survey categories are the same as the Vermont Happiness Study, which was conducted by the University of Vermont’s Center for Rural Studies, the Vermont State Data Center, and Gross National Happiness USA.
“Another benefit of this strategy is that the results of the MRV Wellbeing Survey can be compared with the state as a whole to provide greater context. With the exception of the open-ended questions at the end, the survey questions are structured as a “scale,” so that they can be quantified and provide easier analysis. The survey is a snapshot of community well-being, subject to individual perceptions and interpretations – but it can help to point us in the right direction,” Tomasso said.
She said that one goal of the survey is to provide greater insight into some of the harder-to-measure aspects of life in The Valley: psychological health, access to educational opportunities, and time balance are a few examples. Based on the survey responses, MRVPD facilitates conversations and raises awareness with key community stakeholders who can play a role in actually shifting the needle on issues of community well-being.
“Survey responses can serve as an important tool for accountability and transparency between elected reps and MRV residents; survey results can also improve data-driven decision making to strengthen Valley-wide well-being,” Tomasso noted.
MRV Wellbeing Survey results will be shared as part of the MRV Community Dashboard in summer 2022, which is a new online platform aimed at increasing the accessibility and applicability of MRVPD’s annual data reports.
“Our intention is that the data collected and shared through the Community Dashboard changes and evolves with the community itself; the data must be incorporated into local decision-making to make an impact on shared challenges so we hope community members will share their feedback on this initiative so we, collectively, can better serve their needs,” Tomasso said.
People can take the survey by visiting bit.ly/2022-MRV-Wellbeing! Participants may be entered to win a giftcard to Valley businesses!