Since the beginning of our communications with Crossing Party Lines, our partner organization assessment of success/goals has something that has interested us, even in regards to CPL’s own success. This was something which we discussed at length with our contact at CPL co-founder Lisa Swallow, who had an interesting take on how CPL measured their success. In our initial partnership interview, she had said that although they did take some concrete metrics about who came to their Meetups, and what kind of experience they had by sending a post-meetup survey, CPL has found that the largest metric of success is actually whether individuals come back for another meetup. In Lisa’s experience, it is generally the case that people come back for at least a second session, which is very encouraging!
While a firm assessment is not always needed, and like Lisa said, the fact that people come back is often a success on its own, it can be useful to use a more concrete form of measurement when assessing a first-time project. It can be difficult to assess the relative success of a conversation based event, due to the individual impact it has on each person. This is why a post-meetup survey can be a sufficient way of gaining some understanding of the effect of the event on the participants. This survey could be distributed to all of the participants in the meetup, either directly after the meetup or over email, and would ask a series of brief questions about if the meetup. Some example questions could be:
- Did the meetup change any assumptions you had of the political party opposing your own in relation to environmental issues?
- Do you feel better prepared or more comfortable in having conversations with people with differing opinions?
- Would you consider participating in another CPL meetup?
There is a wide array of questions that could be asked, these being just a few that could prompt future ENVS 295 students while creating their own assessment survey. Assessing where we are now is simpler than assessing where we would like to take the project in the future, especially because the project will be picked up by future ENVS 295 students. Our short-term goal is the set up a viable project for future students, that has been thought out as well as greenlight by our partner organization, so they could hit the ground running next spring. Having gotten input and the “go-ahead” from Lisa already and with her interest in supporting this project going forward, we believe that we are in an ideal place to pass this project on to the next ENVS 295 students.