Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Seattle may not be a happy place to live: Social justice, inequity and happiness

This week marks the end of a year long project to understand social justice in Seattle. This project is important because it is one of the first that tells us in real numbers what social justice - or injustice is. It gives us a comprehensive way to measure equity - and inequity,  It makes it clear that Seattle may be a happy city for some, but may not be such a great place to live if you are not wealthy or privileged with access to resources. 

The goal of the project is greater social justice and well-being for all in our city.

We used the Happiness Initiative assessment to compare the well-being of four immigrant and refugees communities in Seattle to that of the rest of the US. ThHappiness Initiative survey holistically measures well-being in 10 domains: Material, Governance, Environment, Psychology, Health, Time-Balance, Community, Culture, Learning and Work-Experience. 

We worked with  the Oromo, Somali and Filipino community centers as well as the Vietnamese Friendship Association. We analyzed the results in comparison to a random sampling of the entire nation.  The community-based organizations conducted small projects to increase the well-being of their community. 

Below is the analysis for each community followed by a description of their project.  In subsequent posts, we will explore this valuable and groundbreaking work. 

Vietnamese Friendship Association: The Power of Youth

These survey results are the averages for 14 youth from the Vietnamese Community.  They are not a representative sample; so do not scientifically represent youth in the community.  They may indicate the true feelings about youth in the community, however. It is up to the community to determine if a project as per our agreement should be undertaken.

The results are compared to the results for the average American. These results are taken from a random sample and do represent the average American.  All results are on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being the very best and 1 being the very worst.

Domain
Vietnamese Youth Raw Averages
US Raw Average
Satisfaction With Life
72
77
Mental Well-Being
70
76
Your Health
61
71
Time Balance
49
60
Community Vitality
57
63
Social Support
73
76
Access to Education, Arts & Culture
66
73
Your Neighborhood
69
78
Environmental Quality
69
76
Governance
55
59
Material Well-Being
62
68
Work
56
70
sample
14


Youth



The Youth Council analyzed the results on their own after conducting the survey. They were concerned about their overall low scores, and particularly the ones for material well-being, as many youth are making decisions about further education and choice of work.   However, they decided that a sense of community and trust in governance were the key domains for increasing overall well-being for themselves, other Vietnamese youth, others in the Vietnamese community (non-youth!) and the neighborhood.  Through discussion, the youth council determined that the optimal way to leverage the resources they had to address the low scores was to hold a “Spring-Off.”  They invited local police officers and the community.  Everybody learned how to make spring rolls, sat together to eat them! Contestants for a spring eating contest were chosen by raffle and three Vietnamese youth beat out the competition including two police officers. For a little over an hour, 10-30 youth and a few elders sat at five different tables to ask officers prepared and spontaneous questions.    Approximately 200 people attended the event, with about 10 police officers joined by Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brian.   
Below is the announcement, poster and some photos from the event. 


VFA'S Youth Leadership Council is welcoming everyone from the community to join us for our first annual Spring Off event!

On April 7, 2012
The Spring Off will be located at Jefferson Community Center
from 1:00pm - 3:00pm hosted by VFA'S Youth Leadership Council
3801 Beacon Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98108

We'll be spending an afternoon learning how to make traditional Vietnamese Spring rolls, competing for fabulous prizes, meeting new people, and getting to know our local police officers and firemen with an open Q&A session! This event is completely FREE so come and bring your friends!




Vietnames Youth and others learning how to make spring rolls. “It's not that easy, and many of our youth do not know how to do this!” said James Hong, Director of Youth and Community Engagement for the Vietnamese Friendship Association.




Seattle University Students sitting down with a local police officer.


Spring roll eating contest: Guess who wins?


Guess now!


You got it! Youth triumph!



Youth and officers in discussion to build trust in government.


Another table.

James Hong, Director of Youth and Community Engagement for the Vietnamese Friendship Association (VFA), said about “The project was wonderful in the context of working with our youth council. It gave them the opportunity to get them involved at every level, which is rare. They were able to conduct the survey, reflect upon the results, decide on a project and then coordinate it all themselves. We want to continue using this model for youth council. There was so much learning and it was all very valuable.” 
 He said the VFA was very pleased with all aspects of the project as the survey gave youth a strong platform for personal discovery and development and the event provided a way for youth, other community members and police officers to understand each other, and for the Vietnamese community to bond.  The Happiness Initiative (HI) is making a you-tube video of the event and has submitted proposals to write articles to magazines and national blogs.  A flickr account shows many photos from this event.

Somali Community Center: Happiness and culture.

These survey results are the averages for 45 individuals from the Somali Community.  They are not a representative sample; so do not scientifically represent the community.  They may indicate the true feelings about Somali people in the community, however. It is up to the community to determine if a project as per our agreement should be undertaken.

The results are compared to the results for the average American. These results are taken from a random sample and do represent the average American.

All results are on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being the very best and 1 being the very worst.

Domain
Somali Average (45)
US Raw Average
Satisfaction With Life
63
77
Mental Well-Being
60
76
Your Health
54
71
Time Balance
48
60
Community Vitality
56
63
Social Support
62
76
Access to Education, Arts & Culture
59
73
Your Neighborhood
57
78
Environmental Quality
57
76
Governance
53
59
Material Well-Being
64
68
Work
58
70



sample
45



This is what the survey results say:
o  The Somali community members who took the survey scored lowest in Governance (trust in government and other agencies), at 53 out of 100. The average American scored 59 out of 100.
o  The Somali community scored  second lowest in Health at 54 out of 100, with the average American scoring 71 out of 100.
o  Somali community scores were lower in every domain than the Average American
o  The largest difference between Somali community and average American is in the sense of Neighborhood, with a difference of 21, and Somali community scoring at 57, while the average American scored 78. The second widest difference is Environmental Quality, with Somali scoring 19 points lower than the average American: Somali community scored 57, while the average American score is 76.

The Somali community spent a great deal of time taking the survey. As most people do not have internet access, community leaders and volunteers sat down individually with people to take the survey. The community leaders analyzed the results, which are quite low overall. They decided to hold an event celebrating their culture and sharing the information in a way to gather strength in the community and increase the bond to each other.

On April 27, 2012 the community gathered for an event called Family Night at the New Wholly gathering hall. Many community members turned out and filled the hall with the help of Hope Academy located West Seattle and Al Noor Mosque on MLK Jr. Way S which has the largest congregations of all Mosques in South Seattle. Photographs and videos were taken during the event, and 4 restaurants provided different testes of African and Arabian culture. One of the Imams of Masjid Al Noor addressed the crowd and explained the report and how we fared as a community. During his speech, members of the community were paying so much attention as he touched one by one all measures of the survey. It was shock to many people to hear that the community fared the lowest on every area in the survey.


After the reading of the report questions and answers were opened and small groups were formed so the community can discuss while meals served during that time. It was in between laugh and sadness or disbelieve of why the community fare low grade on such matters. They discussed how those numbers could be increased if such survey ever happen again.
Many have suggested the survey was not relevant to the Somali or Muslim culture. Others have thought that what is going on back home impacted their behavior and feelings. Some said the economic downturn and the high unemployment among the Somalis which is estimated 50% is also a factor for the low scores.

After all the evaluations the community talked about how to increase the community well-being. Some suggested if we should act more like Americans to beat them in the next survey. Some others said no, and argued it does not matter since the test is different and acting will never make things better, but it is better to protect your own ways and culture.  It was an eye opening for all. The community is now talking about how to educate the members for a better life, greater well-being and happiness.


Oromo Community Center: Small steps for a large difference.

These survey results are the averages for 44 individuals from the Oromo Community.  They are not a representative sample; so do not scientifically represent the community.  They may indicate the true feelings about Oromo people in the community, however. It is up to the community to determine if a project as per our agreement should be undertaken.

The results are compared to the results for the average American. These results are taken from a random sample and do represent the average American. All results are on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being the very best and 1 being the very worst.

Domain
Oromo Raw Average
US Raw Average
Satisfaction With Life
54
77
Mental Well-Being
57
76
Your Health
54
71
Time Balance
48
60
Community Vitality
47
63
Social Support
59
76
Access to Education, Arts & Culture
52
73
Your Neighborhood
51
78
Environmental Quality
52
76
Governance
52
59
Material Well-Being
57
68
Work Experience
53
70




44


All ages



This is what the survey results say:
o  The Oromo community who took the survey scored lowest in Community Vitality at 47 out of 100. The average American scored 63 out of 100.
o  The Oromo community scored second lowest in Time Balance at 48 out of 100, with the average American scoring 60 out of 100.
o  The Oromo community scored third lowest in Neighborhood at 51 out of 100, with the average American scoring 78 out of 100.
o  The Oromo community scored fourth lowest in Access to Education, Arts & Culture, Environmental Quality, Governance each at 52 out of 100, where the average American scored 73 in Access to Education, Arts & Culture, 76 in Environmental Quality, and 59 in Governance.
o  Oromo community scores were lower in every domain than the average American.
o  The largest difference between Oromo community and average American is in the sense of Neighborhood, with a difference of 27. The second widest difference is Environmental Quality, with Oromo scoring 24 points lower than the average American: Oromo community scored 52, while the average American score is 76.  The third largest difference is in Satisfaction with Life, at 23 points lower than the average American, with  the Oromo community scoring 54 and the average American scoring 77.

The Oromo Community Center held a town meeting for their neighbors. The people who attended the community meeting were the adults and teenagers of the community. The board of directors was also there.  People who participated in the survey were very surprised at the scores. Not only did they score extremely low on every part of the test, but they got the lowest of all the communities in many of the categories. When the project started, they were sure that the would of have had a higher score, but to their surprise and dismay, the results proved us wrong.

Some quotes from community members:
·       “We really need to change”-Khalid Mohamed
·       “Are you serious?”-Fuad Mohamed
·       “You have got to be kidding me” – Sumaya Mohamed
·        
When asked what they should do increase well-being, the replied with the following:
·       “ We need the youth to participate more, we can do this by having video games and maybe a hoop at the center”- Kimo Sani
·       “We need the community to form a greater bond, we can accomplish this by having more community events like have lunches and dinners and sleepovers. It shouldn’t be too hard to put these events together.” 
·       “The children do not participate in community events as much as olds, because the events are considered ‘boring’ by kids, so we should have some events that the kids would enjoy”

There were many other suggestions such as video game tournaments, picking up garbage around the neighborhood and having classes at the center.

The community members had a very long discussion on what they should do. They took into consideration what everyone had to say, and decided to do something that would benefit the environment, the youth, and the community. There were many suggestions that fit these categories such as having a recycling drive, a food drive, and a gaming tournament.

They also decided to conduct monthly activities that would increase the well-being of their community and their own personal sense of happiness. They decided to meet once a month in order to plan the activities that would take place during the month.

Some pictures from the first activity:



Cleaning up garbage in the rain.

Here come some helpers!


Time for snacks.


Everybody is having fun.


It was a good day.

Filipino Community of Seattle: The well-being of elders

These survey results are the averages for 45 elders from the Filipino Community.
They are not a representative sample; so do not scientifically represent the community.  They may indicate the true feelings about the elders in the community, however. It is up to the community to determine if a project as per our agreement should be undertaken.

The results are compared to the results for the average American. These results are taken from a random sample and do represent the average American.

All results are on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being the very best and 1 being the very worst.


Domain
Filipino
Elders
Average for 45
US Raw Average – representative survey
Satisfaction With Life
57
77
Mental Well-Being
51
76
Your Health
51
71
Time Balance
52
60
Community Vitality
50
63
Social Support
56
76
Access to Education, Arts & Culture
51
73
Your Neighborhood
66
78
Environmental Quality
54
76
Governance
57
59
Material Well-Being
61
68
Work
54
70

This is what the  survey results say:
o  In every domain, or aspect of wellbeing, the elderly Filipino community is worse off then the average American.
o  The Filipino elders surveyed scored lowest in Community Vitality at 50 out of 100. This is 13 points less than the average American.
o  The Filipino elders also scored low in Mental Wellbeing, Health, and Access to Education, Arts & Culture, at 51 out of 100. This is 20-25 points lower than the average American
o  The biggest difference between the Filipino elders and average American is Mental wellbeing, with a difference of 25 points.  The second biggest differences are Access to Education, Arts & Culture and Environmental Quality,  with Filipino elders scoring 22 points lower than the average American

Scientific findings indicate people’s happiness is lowest in the middle-ages (45-50) then rises as one gets older.  World Happiness Report, Layard and Helliwell, Cambridge. Yet the elders in the Filipino community scored lower than the average American.  The Filipino community center held a town meeting. Fifteen elders and other community leaders attended.  They discussed why Filipinos scored lower than the average of the American. It was not much of a surprise to anyone and some had mixed feeling about it. Some been living here for a long time and others are newly immigrants.   The meeting and discussion was conducted in Tagalog to ensure that everyone could participate and understand the reason and the importance of the outcome of the project. The community meeting was held on March 31, 2012.


The town meeting

The community members examined the results, followed by a very good discussion about each domain of happiness and focused on psychological well-being (satisfaction with life and mental well-being)  physical health, time balance, community vitality, social support,  access to education, arts & culture.

One comment from the meeting was “Life back home are different, we don’t have a lot of stress, because everybody know everyone including your neighbors and have trust them even when you leave your house you feel safe and they will watch your kids and house until you came back. Here in the United States are different, most of the time we don’t know who our neighbors are, and the fear of knowing them because of the attitude they have towards immigrants(which some of us had a bad experienced, because of our accents, how we talk)”

The community talked about what they personally could do in their own lives to be happier. Some of their answers were:

·       Not to worry too much about the problems, there’s always a solution
·       Save money for the future.
·       Serve others, such as by volunteering
·        Utilize your life to the fullest ( enjoy every minute of it)
·       Read the newspaper.
·       Go to the Filipino Community Center.
·       read Pinoy jokes.
·       Love God and be loving people.

They talked about what they want to do:
·       Serve other people.
·       Serve community by volunteering
·       Visit sick people
·       Talk to people for the betterment of our community
·       join civic organizations.

When asked “what do you want to see done? (this is for policy makers), they said:
·       Create more jobs
·       Create a peaceful environment
·       Put more lights on dark street and put cameras in.
·       Put more police on the streets and ensure they  are more visible.


They discuss and decide on a project to enhance community wellbeing. They decided to focus on public safety. They decided to have a community forum to create and understand how to start Neighborhood Watch that would include education on how to get involve and bring other people to the forum. The group decided that they would have a community forum on public safety and will invite the law enforcement, crime prevention council and others to present to the community information about public safety such as burglary, robbery, safety, ID theft and hate crimes.

Pictures fromm the public safety meeting


Elders bring the community together discuss public safety.


The community discusses tough issues. 

1 comment:

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