As the Soul of the Community project enters its third year, relating the data to our readers has been extremely important for us. Some of the survey's concepts can be a bit tricky to understand at times. Also, with three years of data, there’s lots to digest. So this year, we’re using a new tool to help readers visualize how the factors we study change in importance and over time.
To tackle this project, we turned to The Jefferson Institute, a Knight Foundation grant recipient. The Jefferson Institute is a nonprofit research and education institute that, among other things, develops digital tools to increase public access to and engagement with information.
The Jefferson Institute created ‘motion charts’ that use the complete Soul of the Community survey data provided by Gallup. Their tool turns this stream of data into a visual representation that displays important information as icons and puts them into motion as they move through time in the survey.
The moving icons are displayed on top of a chart that represents strengths and opportunities for communities. For example, the representation of how important social offerings are to people in Boulder can be represented by an icon that moves up and down and side to side on the chart. So, using this chart for Boulder, the reader can see the change in importance of social offerings to resident attachment over the three years of our survey. (For a more in-depth explanation on how to read strength-opportunity charts for Soul of the Community, see this video).
You can find the motion charts on each of the community pages on www.soulofthecommunity.org. There’s a short explanation on each page for how to use and read them.
So, why is this important? Presenting our findings visually is just one more way to increase awareness and understanding of the Soul of the Community project. We hope leaders will use this information to spark new discussions and work together to strengthen our cities to ensure a brighter future for our people and communities.