Opening up the survey results with feedback on your own projects is always a slighting anxiety inducing experience. But in all my time as a researcher, I can’t remember a more lovely surprise than when I opened up the file to see what participants thought of our Living Advent Calendar project.
The project gets volunteers from 24 houses and hubs in the local community to illuminate their windows with festive decorations in December. One window is ‘opened’ each day from the 1st to the 24th December and remains illuminated until 12th night.
Totaling up feedback from the first four years of the project (2015-2018), 89% of participants gave the Living Advent Calendar the maximum rating for its overall success, with no individual rating it as neutral or negative. 85% of respondents gave the project the maximum positive rating in terms of their own experience, with no individual rating it as neutral or negative for them personally. Whilst this evaluation was modest in its scope, it’s hard not to conclude that the Living Advent Calendar as been a resounding success. Even with the most temperate scholarly attitude, it’s hard to interpret this data as suggesting anything else.
Qualitative quotes describe the joy that the calendar has brought, and how valuable it has been for bringing people together. The most common recurring word to describe the project was “lovely”:
“Obsessed with it… being able to take part changes how I feel about the whole area”
“It’s so lovely…to have a heartwarming experience walking around this area after dark, especially given the reports of crime”
“Such a magical way to bring the community together!”
“Really enjoyed getting to know neighbours”
“Makes the neighbourhood feel more accessible and gives it a warm personality”
The calendar was featured as a case study by the Eden Project, and has inspired similar projects in Manchester, Walthamstow, Weston-Super-Mare, Norwich and Somerset.
You can download the full data set here.