Happiness Santa Fe

“The time has come for global action to build a new world economic system that is no longer based on the illusion that limitless growth is possible on our precious and finite planet or that endless material gain promotes well-being....Instead, it will be a system in short, that is fully sustainable and that is rooted in true, abiding well-being and happiness.”
~~ Prime Minister Jigme Thinley, Bhutan

The Center for Emergent Diplomacy, in partnership with the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA,  provided leadership, tools and project management to facilitate Santa Fe becoming a Happiness City. Happiness Santa Fe launched during the First National Happiness Week in 2013. This week began on Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, Saturday, April 13, and ended with an Earth Day celebration on Monday, April 22. Happiness Santa Fe celebrated its second annual day of festivities on April 13, 2014.

Background

In 2011, the United Nations passed a unanimous declaration urging member nations to place “The Pursuit of Happiness,” rather than economic development, at the forefront of their developmental agenda and to find ways to measure their success. In April, 2012, the Center for Emergent Diplomacy was invited to attend the first United Nations “high level meeting on happiness and well-being,” and to facilitate the working group planning the launch of the Kingdom of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index at the Rio + 20 Conference in June, 2012.

The Center for Emergent Diplomacy continues to co-facilitate the grassroots effort that emerged from that meeting to help communities and nations of all sizes functionally embrace and implement this new paradigm. This paradigm is based on social justice and respect for all life forms. If we are to change the current unlimited growth economic model encouraged by measuring progress solely on the basis of Gross National Product, local communities all over the world must begin to add environmental and social indicators to their measurement of progress. Local, grassroots community action in this global movement can and will make change happen – change that is gaining momentum everyday.

Santa Fe - A Happiness City

The Center for Emergent Diplomacy is working in partnership with the Happiness Alliance, a Seattle based organization that grew out of Sustainable Seattle. Both the Center for Emergent Diplomacy and the Happiness Alliance are non-governmental social profit 501(c)3 organizations. Together, they combine the power of applied complex systems thinking and the insights gained from using the Happiness Alliance Toolbox, with their unique understanding of individual and collective grassroots action. Their goals are to stimulate community participation, facilitate the emergence of new insights and policies that help Santa Fe establish more appropriate measures of progress, and help city decision makers determine policies that respond to the real needs of Santa Feans.

At the heart of this process is a rigorous survey of community members. While a number of methods for measuring human well-being have been and continue to be developed, Sustainable Seattle created the recognized standard survey of local indicators of happiness and well-being in 1991. This survey served as the basis for the Happiness Toolbox later developed by the Happiness Alliance. It measures the essential conditions that really matter to people and contribute to their sense of well-being, and how people feel about their lives and what is important to them. It has been used in communities in the United States and around the world.

The survey, which can be taken and scored online or in face-to-face interviews, contains questions in eleven domains: Satisfaction with Life, Positive Affect, Mental Well-Being, Health, Time Balance, Community Vitality, Social Support and Relationships, Access to Education, Arts and Culture, Neighborhood, Environment, and Governance.

The survey results will be immensely useful to city planers and other decision makers so they will better understand how people perceive themselves to be hurting and thriving. City officials can then use this information to make policy decisions and set priorities in resource and fiscal allocation.

By gathering individuals throughout all segments of our community and encouraging people to take the survey, Santa Feans are likely to become more connected to, and engaged in, community affairs. We can all share in the pride of being a visible member of the growing international movement that is creating a new understanding of success, an understanding that includes happiness and well-being in the determination of a country’s “wealth.”