Videos

Measuring What’s Important to Maine: A 25-year Look Back

In this short video Craig tells some history from his front row seat in Augusta, Maine where he once authored Measures of Growth and other indicators reports. He even shows us his first weekly newsletter. He explains how choosing what to measure serves as a foundation for making public policy. Craig also mentions the GDP and describes some national attempts in the 1990s to install alternative measures of national prosperity.

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This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

 

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here. How do you measure success? Success of a company? Success of a country? Typically we look at a number, probably an economic number like profit or gross domestic product.

A couple weeks ago a report was published called Measures of Growth and this report defines success of the State of Maine using 29 different indicators. This is a report that I know something about. I was the lead researcher and author of the first eight editions. Let’s take a look.

The report is published annually by the Maine Development Foundation where I used to work. In the nineties there was a growing awareness about sustainable development and the need to define success more broadly than just with economic indicators. So this group came up initially with 57 different indicators in 7 different categories, and for each indicator there is a chart as to where we have been and there’s a benchmark for where we want to be.

In 1997 we went a little crazy and produced a 2-page newsletter every week we mailed them to subscribers, and at the end of the year we bound them up in this book. Fifty-two weekly newsletters. Craig’s first weekly.

You might even call it a fad. There was this sense that whatever you measure gets managed and so countries, states, communities, were developing sets of indicators for all sorts of things; basically things that people wanted to improve in the future.

Here in the State of Maine the Maine Development Foundation — the same group that produced Measures of Growth — was commissioned to produce indicators of Livable Communities, indicators of Maine’s Transportation System, indicators of Maine’s Natural Resource-based Industries, indicators of the Health of Children and Communities, and even one just for a county: Indicators of Sustainable Development.

On a national level the United States was working on an Experimental Set of Indicators. I had the pleasure of working on this experimental set of indicators. I was called to Washington DC. This group was commissioned by President Clinton who at the time also commissioned a President’s Council on Sustainable Development.

In the mid-nineties a Genuine Progress Indicator was proposed: a composite index of 25 or so different things. A much better way to measure progress, the authors contended. While Gross Domestic Product has continued to rise in the United States, genuine progress actually began to level off and decline in the early seventies.

What all of these reports try to do is make the case that quality of life is about more than just a healthy economy. It also depends on healthy community (social issues) and of course it depends on a healthy environment. And so we have indicators not just about economic health but also community health and environmental health. This experimental set of indicators for the United States same 3 categories; economic, environmental, social.

The idea behind all of this is the notion that by calling out specific indicators we can influence policy in such a way that influences those indicators, that moves those needles or raises or lowers those graphs. This is a statement as to what is most important to the state of Maine and as citizens and policy makers and businesses it works well if we try to work on these issues.

As you look back at the past year and look forward to the year ahead, either on your own behalf or thinking of a group that you’re part of, consider how you would measure success. You need not be limited to economic indicators.

Thanks for listening everybody. I hope this helps your group make good decisions.

Music!

In this short video, Craig explains how music can serve multiple purposes in a meeting.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video.

Hi everybody! Hey, it’s Craig Freshley here, about to start a training session. There’s something that I want to show you. Come on inside.

We got all set up before people are arriving. Look, we’ve got food over here. We’ve got the tables for people to sit, we’ve got a blank wall, slides.

But, do you hear that? We’ve got music playing. I find that it’s so helpful to kind of lighten the atmosphere and help people feel cheerful if you can have some music playing on arrival, right? Why not?

And you know what? I’m going to use music too, for some of the breaks.

I’m going to ask people to change tables today – several times. And the way I’m going to do that is, I’m going to turn on some music. I’m going to ask people to get up out of their chairs and walk around randomly while the music plays and (you’ve probably got this figured out) when the music stops, sit down wherever you are. It’s a really fun and quick way to get people to sit in different places.

Look, there’s a lot of seriousness going on in the world. A lot of seriousness about our meetings and training sessions. If we can lighten things up with a little music, why not?

I hope this helps your group make good decisions.

Public input in many ways

On site at a public input meeting, Craig describes four ways for people to give their opinions.


This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video.

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.

I am at a meeting – the whole purpose is to gather public input. Tonight we’re in Brunswick, Maine asking people what they think the future of the town should be.

Now, when you ask people to provide information it’s really good if you can ask them to give it in several different ways because you know not everybody is comfortable raising a hand and speaking out loud in public. Sometimes we do that – take a look over here. We did that in this meeting earlier tonight and we showed right on the screen what people said. As they raised their hands and spoke out, we typed their comments.

But that’s not the only way. Also earlier tonight, we asked people to write their comments on these pieces of paper and we put them on the wall. We didn’t know how they were going to be organized. We organized them after we saw all the pieces of paper on the wall.

A third way that we’re asking people to make their comments tonight is by writing on pieces of paper at their tables. Look we’ve got a question right down on the chart and we’re asking people to discuss and write their answers.

That’s not all – come over here. We asked people to draw their ideas on maps. “Where do you want growth to occur in our town? Where do you want no growth?”

Look, the point is that whenever you’re asking for public input ask it in a way that gives many different types of opportunities to give their input. That’s how you help your group make good decisions.

Thanks for listening everybody.

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