Around the Institute

Don’t Worry, Be Happy…And Other Tips from Your Friendly Advocacy Evaluators at APEP

April 6, 2012

Gross National Happiness?
The Washington Post’s recent piece on happiness raises an important question: how do we measure something as subjective as personal “happiness”? For advocacy evaluators, this may seem eerily familiar: it’s what we do – attempt to define meaningful indicators for impact in an unpredictable environment. Is this a precise science? Nope. It’s more art than anything. But once we start asking questions, potentially useful ideas emerge.

An Eye on the Future
Next weekend Americans for Informed Democracy will host the 2012: Challenge Accepted Conference at George Washington University, which aims to equip young leaders from around the country with the tools and know-how to affect change nationally and globally. There will be plenty of great speakers. (And also: APEP director David Devlin-Foltz will lead a workshop on advocacy planning and evaluation, our bread and butter.) Spread the word.

On Advocacy and Fairy Tales
In a story for NPR, Neda Ulaby wonders out loud why Snow White has suddenly become the fictional “it” girl of the moment. Advocates (and evaluators) also ask themselves why certain issues gain traction when they do. Sometimes a big event creates an opening, as the Fukushima disaster did for opponents of nuclear energy; but most of the time, it’s just plain old serendipity. We’ve found that those who patiently invest in advocacy capacity while their issue is off the public’s radar are best able to seize an opportunity when it presents itself. Anti-poison apple advocates…it’s showtime.