There was a curious stall at the Harbourside Festival in Bristol this weekend. Riddled, swarming with volunteers, it was bedecked with banners offering simply ‘more happiness’. And stickers.
What did it mean?
A leaflet drew back the curtain… “Happy City exists to help demonstrate that being happier needn’t cost the earth. It’s a radically simple plan to grow happiness – one city at a time, starting right here. The world needs a new story. Less ‘stuff for stuff’s sake’ and more ‘life for life’s sake’. A story that redefines what it means to be happy.”
Oh, warm fuzzy glow! It’s a Bristol initiative, an NGO established in the recession to help the city’s people and communities focus less on consumerism and more on happiness. It’s hippie, but not too hippie. Very Bristol.
Happy City challenges the mindset that says short-term consumption is the primary route to happiness. Instead Happy City promotes a view of happiness that focuses less on what we have, and more on what we do and how we are together. Happiness. It’s not fluffy. It’s radical.
They used the Harbour Festival this weekend as an exucse to bring folks together and introduce the idea. The ‘Happiness Zone’ was created in just 18 days by a band of crowd-sourced volunteers who provided expertise and man power for workshops, entertainment and fun. Besides this, a treasure hunt was organised around scientifically* (*ahem) proven ways to boost happiness:
- Connecting with people
- Noticing stuff
- Learning something new
- Being active
The organisers reckon that with greater personal happiness the programme could also bring environmental and social justice and a stronger economy. A big (but noble) claim.
Liz Zeidler from Happy City:
“We’ve got a music stage under a solar powered geodome, some amazing bands, a speakers’ corner, a live art project, a street party, kids’ activities, food – the list goes on. You’d expect an event this huge to cost a fortune but the message is loud and clear. We can enjoy ourselves, celebrate our communities and work together without consuming tons of ‘stuff’. That’s our mission in a nutshell.”