Building Happiness

Whatever creates or increases happiness, or some part of happiness, we ought to do; whatever destroys or hampers happiness, or gives rise to its opposite, we ought not to do.” — Aristotle

There should be no question that happiness should be a worthy goal for city-builders. That’s the argument I make in Connected Worlds, a new book published for the International Festival for Business in Liverpool.

Here’s the full essay in a snapshot of the gorgeous book:

connected worlds page view

What is urban experimentalism?

ex·per·i·men·tal·ism: noun 1/ reliance on or advocacy of experimental or empirical principles and procedures. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) 2/ an orientation that favors experimentation and innovation. Related to instrumentalism, a philosophy advanced by philosopher John Dewey, who held that the truth of a thing or idea lay in its usefulness. I began my search for the essenceContinue Reading

Why cities need streets activists now

‘Our cities are malleable. They can change. And all of us can play a part in that change.’ The activists at New York City’s Transportation Alternatives are among the greatest of urban heroes. These guys proved that smart activists can totally transform a city. So it was a special pleasure to sit down for a chat withContinue Reading

Talking Happy City with Streetfilms

Spring day, happy talk: A stroll and a chat in one of my fave places–NYC’s Sarah Roosevelt Park–with livable streets honcho Mark Gorton. TweetContinue Reading

Choosing the Happy City (video)

Behavioural economists have demonstrated that when it comes to maximizing utility–or what you and I might call happiness–we constantly fail to make the best decisions. We get it wrong as individuals, as city-builders, and as politicians. As my own region teetered on the brink of making some bad decisions, I had a chance to reflectContinue Reading

Mysteries of the empathic city

A short talk about urban experimentation, empathy and designed conviviality at Sam Sullivan’s Public Salon in Vancouver (Feb, 2014): TweetContinue Reading

Machines for Happiness

By Seth Geiser Can art and design make us kinder? Can we design more trust or altruism into the city? These are questions everyone can help answer. Working with the Museum of Vancouver, we challenged students from Simon Frasier University’s School of Interactive Art and Technology (SIAT), Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECUAD),Continue Reading

Hug a stranger, change your city: a social trust photo album

‘Do you two know each other?” Study after study has confirmed that social connectedness is a prime determinant of human wellbeing. It’s interesting to note then, that the vast majority of people in our lives, from passing acquaintances to old friends, were initially strangers. When is the moment that strangers become people worth trusting? Richard RenaldiContinue Reading

Upcycled Urbanism: street hacking with MOV

My flat-out funnest moment in 2013 involved one street, hundreds of giant building blocks and two fire trucks, in an experience that shouted loudly about the alchemy the that happens when people–lots of people–are empowered to play with urban design. I’ll get to the fire trucks later, but here’s the back story: For one dayContinue Reading

On the sunny side of the street

Architects love to hate Disneyland for its shameless nostalgia and fakery. But psychologists and neuroscientists are fascinated by the place. Disney and his designers showed an uncanny understanding of the way that architecture affects emotions, neuroimmunologist Esther Sternberg told me. “They figured out in the 1950s and ’60s, long before we understood neuroscience, exactly howContinue Reading