Self-evidently, time is more valuable to humans than money – a mere unit of account to track our use of our time. Some indicator systems, including OECD’s Better Life Index and the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (both discussed in Global Boom in New Indicators), model this interface between time and money as work-life balance.
The Re-Creation Indicator goes beyond the material aspects of our existence and our focus on healthy bodies and well-educated minds to our spirits and how we re-create ourselves. Of course body, mind and spirit are all integrated within our lives. We all have diverse ways of expressing these aspects of our being and personal development.
For example, the time/money interface is the basis for the Time Banking model pioneered by our Advisory Board member Edgar Cahn (www.yeswecan.org). Our advisor psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi models human activity and time-use optimally as a “flow state” where self-actualization leads to a melding of activities designated in the industrial model as “work” and “play” as a seamless, joyful, continual unfolding of being and self-expressing.
In our Re-Creation Indicator, we explore human activity for self-renewal and actualization from a time-budgeting perspective as developed by our original advisor, Richard A. Peterson, PhD, professor emeritus, Vanderbilt University Department of Sociology. Our indicator embraces non-paid aspects of time management, mapping our extraordinarily diverse forms of recreation from volunteering in community projects, helping preserve wildlife, and serving the poor to attending concerts, museums, or just enjoying hunting, fishing and barbecuing.
The model traces how we organize and spend our private and public resources on recreational activities. The indicator embraces self-improving experience (from religious, spiritual pursuits to other forms of self-development); patronizing the arts; physical sports and fitness; do-it-yourself crafts; gardening; home-improvement; hobbies; vicarious experience (TV, video games, and the Internet); socializing and home entertaining; travel and tourism; games of chance and betting; and chemical escape (alcohol, tobacco and drugs), without evaluating which forms of activity are good or bad for society or the individual. While not claiming all types of recreation are equally valuable, the focus here is on all activities that successfully compete for many people’s discretionary time, attention and money in the United States.
The Re-Creation model should be considered a first step in an effort to more systematically chart recreation’s contribution to the quality of life. It is a panorama of the ever evolving activities of Americans. As freelancing, open-source and other internet-based opportunities for paid work, voluntary activities, citizen journalism, blogging and pure self-expression increase, we will cover this changing scene.
Many attest to how the terrorist attacks on the US caused them to reflect deeply on their lives, their meaning and purpose. Even before 9/11, a 1999 poll cited in Business Week found that 78% of Americans say they feel the need in their lives to experience spiritual growth. Communities are opting to honor their local past and culture by building museums and art galleries, as Lord Cultural Resources of Toronto, Canada, continues to document. According to the Federal Agency for Service and Volunteering, 64.3 million Americans volunteered 7.9 billion hours in 2011. The nonprofit, voluntary sector provides 5.5% of GDP, a component lost from the aggregated total.
Our Re-Creation Indicator will keep us aware of changes in what is defined and measured as recreation, just as the term wellness has been popularized since the indicators were first developed and as the need for metrics has arisen to explore “social networking” as recreation in itself and as it deeply affects travel, hospitality, tourism, leisure and nonprofit activities.