So what is it like to live in Columbia, MD during the 2010’s? Are we happy? Lazy? Foolish? Engaged? At this point, I don’t think anyone knows. I think that forty years ago, it was in many ways easier to figure this out. Yes, Columbia is known for being the “suddenly diverse” town, but since the 1970’s, Columbia’s diversity has continued to grow; sometimes in ways that were expected and sometimes not.
What is certain is that Columbia today is not very much like Columbia back then. One of the areas in which little data exists is how Columbians feel and how they feel about their neighborhoods. So yes, I think it is high time that we find someone (cough*CA*cough-cough) to conduct a survey of Columbia.
In particular, I encourage everyone to take a look at the New Zealand. In 2004, New Zealand decided it was in their national interest to measure the quality of life for the residents in its eight largest cities. Through the Quality of Life Project, they survey residents in each city every two years, and they ask some very interesting questions. New Zealand then uses these surveys as an input to improve life in these cities. It seems appropriate that a social welfare organization like CA should be doing the same thing. I believe we need this kind of survey done for each Village in Columbia. It certainly would help in describing who (and how) we are. So take a look:
Health and Wellbeing
1. How do you rate your quality of life?
2. How do you rate your overall health?
3. Have you had the occasion in the last 12-months in which you needed to see a doctor, but was not able to be treated?
4. How frequently during the week do you undertake physical activity?
5. How do you rate your emotional wellbeing?
6. How do you rate your satisfaction with life in general?
7. How often do you experience stress?
8. Do you have someone nearby to turn to for help if you were faced with a serious illness or injury, or needed emotional support during a difficult time?
Crime and Safety
1. Over the last 12-months, do you view vandalism as a problem within your area?
2. Over the last 12-months, do you view car theft or damage to cars as a problem in your area?
3. Over the last 12-months, do you view dangerous driving as a problem in your area?
4. Over the last 12-months, have you perceived the presence of unsafe people in your area?
5. Do you feel safe in your home during the day?
6. Do you feel safe in your home after dark?
7. Do you feel safe walking alone in your neighborhood after dark?
8. Do you feel safe in your city center during the day?
9. Do you feel safe in your city center after dark?
10. Do you feel your local neighborhood is safe for children under 14 years to play in while unsupervised?
Community, Culture and Social Networks
1. Do you feel it is important to feel a sense of community with the people in your local neighborhood?
2. Do you feel a sense of community with others in your local neighborhood?
3. Do you feel that the fact that Columbia is becoming a home for an increasing number of people with different lifestyles and cultures from different countries makes your area a better place to live?
4. Which of the following social networks do you belong to?
b. A network of people from work or school
c. A hobby or interest group
d. A sports club
e. Online community or interest group
f. A church or spiritual group
g. A community or volunteer group (i.e. Rotary)
i. Other social network or group
j. None of the above
5. In the last 12-months, have you felt lonely or isolated?
6. Do you believe people can be trusted?
7. Do you believe your area has a culturally rich and diverse arts scene?
1. Rate how much you agree with the following statement: “Overall, I understand how my Council makes decisions”
2. Would you like to have more say in what the Council does?
3. Rate your level of confidence that the Council makes decisions in the best interests of their city or district.
4. Does the public have any influence on the decisions the Council makes?
Built and Natural Environment
1. Do you feel a sense of pride in the way your city or local area looks and feels?
2. How easy is it for you to get to a local park or other green space in your city or local area?
3. Over the last 12-months, has rubbish or litter lying on the streets of your city or local area been a problem?
4. Over the last 12-months, has graffiti or tagging been a problem in your city or local area?
5. Over the last 12-months, has air pollution been a problem in your city or local area?
6. Over the last 12-months, has water pollution (including pollution in streams, rivers, and lakes) been a problem in your city or local area?
7. Over the last 12-months, has noise pollution been a problem in your city or local area?
1. How many times per week do you use public transport?
2. Do you believe public transport is affordable?
3. Do you believe public transport is safe?
4. Do you believe public transport is easy to get to?
5. Do you believe public transport is frequent enough?
6. Do you believe public transport is reliable?
1. Are you employed full time?
2. If you are not employed, are you actively seeking work?
3. If you are not employed and actively seeking work, could you start work last week?
4. How do you rate the balance between work and other aspects of life?
5. How satisfied are you with the quantity and quality of your leisure time?
6. Do you have enough money to cover the costs of your everyday needs?
I also suggest you take a look at the survey reports on the Quality of Life site. The answers to these questions are published and then broken down by age, gender, ethnicity, and household income. Many of the questions have follow-up questions that provide character to the answers the depths of the surveys are incredible. If you think this is important, please let your CA Board member know.