Results of the Happiness Survey

Back in March I crafted a survey to help understand what makes people happy and if technology can help us become happier. Volunteers completed the survey anonymously either online or on paper. There were two groups of respondents: a) middle class, age range of 20-40 y.o., who use technology for social purpose, not particularly religious, mainly employed, b) middle to upper class retired people, i.e. 50 y.o. and above, who are not too fond of technology vs. face-to-face meetings for social purpose, mainly non-religious, but with high priorities on ethics and humanism (representatives from Boston Ethical Society). Thank you to all participants!

The Happiness survey is phase One of The Ultimate Answer project, which is about:

  • ›What makes people happy?
  • ›How open are people to share their ideas about happiness and help each other?
  • ›Are there any “common denominators” of happiness?
  • ›Is it possible to measure happiness and how?
  • ›How can happiness be increased in the world?
  • ›Can technology leverage human potential to increase happiness and how?
  • ›What is the meaning of life and how to find it?

82 people answered the survey: 15 from Boston Ethical Society(BES) and 67 from non-BES.

Here are some highlights:

  • 99% knows what happiness is, but only 72% knows what the meaning of life is. Those 28% who have no clue really need to catch up on Monty Python…
  • People are more likely to give a piece of advice than to receive it.
  • 9 out of 10 said that happiness is not permanent, it changes over time.
  • Answers from BES (more ethical and older) group were different from non-BES respondents.
  • Meaning of life is different from personal happiness.

Please, feel free to check out the results of the survey for yourself Happiness Survey Results

via Results of the Happiness Survey.


June 3, 2011 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jan 2011 Newsletter of La Esperanza Granada, Nicaragua

I have a special connection to La Esperanza Granada in Nicaragua. I read their newsletters every month, and I would like to share this one with you :

What a full month we have had here, so much has happened, so I will give you the highlights and trust the pictures to tell the story:

 ·        The fence for the high school in San Ignacio was completed, with the wall of the latrines forming part of the fence.

·        Westfield State College students led by  Christin Cleaton Ruiz, Kathi Bradford and Catherine Savini, made an enormous contribution to the new high school.  They raised sufficient money, and came and labored for a week, to build the walls of three classrooms (one building) of the high school half way up.  They had a great week here with us, and are hoping to stay involved with this project.  Work has now stopped on the high school, but Karin van Eijk is gathering funds, and the students from Westfield will be trying too, also Amped for Education, so hopefully we will make further progress with it soon.

·        Professors Soraya, Raul and Jose completed work on the textbook/activity book for the course we will be hosting this year on protecting the environment and renewable energy.  Thanks to the Body Shop foundation, this will be taught to all the grade 3 and 4 children in the schools where we work, and so exciting for the children, each will have their own book, with a space for their name on the cover.  Often there is only one textbook per classroom here.

·        Our three summer schools have been running all month, next week is the last week, and we have over 150 students attending.  Kathleen Pillie and other visitors who came with the Archdiocese of New Orleans Mission Group came and did eye testing with all the children last week.

·        New faces as ayudantes, plus some new university scholarships through Grupo 2013 in Spain – now we have 20 young people attending university, 14  of who are full time volunteers in our ayudante program, plus this year  75 sponsored to attend high school.  (we are still looking for a few more high school sponsors).

·        Our first home renovation project happened last week!  Dalia Ramirez won the raffle we held of students with the best attendance at San Ignacio, and the Ramirez family got a full home makeover.  T.J. Swearengin and his friends ‘The Carpenters’ funded this and did all the work too laboring each day, along with a little assistance from our local builder.   All four. T.J., Chad, Josh and Guy, have desk jobs, and despite the name ‘Carpenters’ are really average home handymen, but they did a wonderful job – I’m adding an extra photo link just for this as they are such great pictures, before, during and after.

Former volunteer, Ciaran Tierney, returned home to Ireland at Christmas after a spell in Central America in which he spent ten weeks with La Esperanza Granada. Here, he reflects on how his experiences in Nicaragua contrasted with the current ‘crisis’ in his own country.

 And finally two photo links for this month :

And a special on the house renovation:

A great start to 2011,  hope all of you had a good start too, from all of us here,

Regards, Pauline.

Note: In orginal newsletter you can find a list of people who made donations, brought goods and volunteers coming to teach this new school year.

February 5, 2011 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mapping Party at MIT

Ben and I were lucky to attend the Map party on Sunday at MIT. We had no idea what it was going to be like, but were instructed by Adam H to show up and learn more about mapping and demonstrate our MAP activity on XO and

The event surprised me because I realized that 1) google maps are not perfect, 2) people do ALL kinds of volunteer work, even map creation! This project appeals to people who like technology, maps and making positive impact in the community.

Open Street Map (OSM) is the largest open source mapping project in the world that was launched in 2008 in UK. It’s been growing rapidly thanks to volunteers.

So what OSM participants do? They get their GPS with them every time they go on a hike, bike ride, etc. and when they come home – upload their route to the website and edit the map. They correct or add what they saw – new buildings, hiking trails, bike lanes and more. 

The event started with presentations, then one team went outside to collect track/data with GPS units and another team used imagery to update features locally. I didn’t go outside but stayed in and added new bike lane (Somerville Ave) to the map. Ben braved the cold and gathered info on footpath in the Front Park at MIT.

Later we all uploaded GPS traces either from walking maps (you can scan and upload), I-phones or other GPS devices(Garmin60). There are various free mobile apps for iPhone/iPad (trackrec, Motion X GPS Lite, BTD mapper), on the Android platform My Tracks and Ridetrac are also free GPS tracking apps  for that.

We uploaded GPX format files into either OSM or JOSM and used feature “edit and save” for upload later. There were some editing conflicts, as several people worked on similar edits, but at the end conflicts was resolved and the map was improved.

For more information please visit and

If you are interested in participating, please contact Lisa at, David at or Lars at

November 8, 2010 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment