Heartfelt statistics: the alternative national survey

A parallel measure of the population asks about identity and feelings

Census of the Heart asks questions that are related to connections to and relationships with one’s home, job, community, friends and family

Census of the Heart asks questions that are related to connections to and relationships with one’s home, job, community, friends and family

 

This weekend, as households fill out the national census form, one might be left a little cold by its questioning.

So what about an alternative census that captures information a little deeper than how many rooms are in your house?

Census of the Heart is a project launching this weekend that aims to ask more reflective and emotional questions of the Irish people, and find out how we feel about ourselves and our country in 2016.

The alternative census is being launched by The Trailblazery, whose previous projects include “We Need To Talk About Ireland” and “Rites of Passage”.

Kathy Scott and Mari Kennedy who also founded the Ireland:Iceland Project in 2009, had the idea for an alternative census in 2011.

Humanness

Kennedy recalls: “I got the census form in the door and my dad was dying, and I was in a state of grief.

“I looked at the form and when I went to fill it out and thought, this is so cold, I want someone to ask me how I am. I don’t want someone to ask me who I am and how many rooms I have in my house.

“It related to that sense of humanness in our society and how the human is forgotten in the data we collect.”

They teamed up with scientists from Iceland and Ireland in UCD to figure out what questions to ask to be meaningful but capture the data properly.

This census asks questions about the individuals’ own identity, with some crossover with the national census questions, but also goes further by asking questions about sexuality and gender.

After those individual identity questions, there are questions about national and community identity.

There are also questions that are related to connections to and relationships with one’s home, job, community, friends and family.

Manifesto

“We’re trying to capture what people are feeling right now in Ireland,” says Scott.

The census is influenced by the Gross National Happiness Index of Bhutan, the We Feel Fine digital artwork, and the Data Will Help Us manifesto about both the promise and perils of data.

Scott says part of the project is about people taking time to think while they do the survey – “room for reflection and pause that maybe you don’t have in your everyday life, to actually pause and think about how you feel”.

Kennedy agrees: “In doing the survey, that there’s actually an experience of questioning your own life and checking in with yourself.”

The census will run for four weeks beginning this weekend.

You can fill it in at censusoftheheart.com.

The whole process takes about 10 minutes to complete.