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The happiness factor: know thy neighbors

Thursday, January 27, 2011 Leave a Comment

Oprah did a show the other day on happiness: is it genetic? Can it be learned? How can you get more?

They visited the "happiest" city in the country - San Luis Obispo - which is a city that, in the seventies, made some very conscious decisions to improve the neighborliness of their city. They widened the sidewalks, to encourage walking and biking. They shut down their main shopping street to traffic and created a pedestrian mall. They rezoned so that shops and retail could intermix with residential housing. They built more bike paths and left more open space. They encouraged outdoor restaurant seating.

All of it sounds a lot like how Stapleton was designed, with our bike paths, green space, front porches, and multiple town centers -- now, if only we could make that a reality...

Well, Oprah concludes, knowing your neighbors is a big factor in happiness. Not just knowing them, but feeling safe in your community, having dinner with them, sending your kids outside to play.

OK, I'm off to Bunco tonight!