Nina | Community Stories

“It’s really hard for me to recall happy moments, because I’ve had a lot of them.  I have had a lot of terrible experiences, but I recognize that I’m very blessed.  So I guess the most ongoing happy place is just when I am out with my husband and my dogs, out taking a walk.  Really if I had to give it a location, it would be on the shores of Lake Superior.

It’s out special place, it’s really beautiful.”

January 2017 News and Updates

Christopher Peterson has a three-word summary of positive psychology: “Other people matter.”  As a community arts nonprofit, we are committed to people.  It is our mission to connect people, strength people, activate people through art and discourse.

It has been an incredible start to study on happiness, and it’s an honor to work with you to fulfill this mission.  In the four short months since we have started this study on happiness, we have hosted eight workshops, interviewed 75 people, and cultivated a safe and welcoming environment for over 900 participants.

This has been a great start, and we are excited to announce the next phase of the study: the Secret Missions.  This is where our workshops build art, evolve into creative placemaking events, and see tidal waves of change in our city.  We will be announcing a lecture series, pop-up interactive art pieces, and our exhibition dates.

Other people matter to us.  YOU matter to us, and we couldn’t do this without you.  As always, we are thankful for your participation, your vulnerability, and your efforts to bring this city together through art and discourse.

We wish you a warm, safe, and happy New Year.

Best,
Mallory Shotwell

January 2017 Events

Happiness and Routines:  Make a New Year

Saturday, January 21
10am-12pm
Goodman Community Center 

Participants will create a set of attainable goals for their lives, set or reset their path, and connect with others.

This workshop will not be a drop in experience. Instead, we are creating a space where people can explore their own experiences, and those around them. In this immersive experience, we are encouraging people to dig in, wear their hearts on their sleeves, and begin to create the life that you are meant for.

Limited seating, so please sign up soon.

 

Happy Hour: Happiness and Routines 

Wednesday, January 25
6pm-8pm
Crescendo Cafe

Happy Hour is a philosophy group that discusses different aspects of happiness in our lives and in the community.

We will be sharing ideas on the topic of happiness and ritual or routine. Particularly looking at the routines that we have with ourselves and other people. Which of these are healthy? Do these lead you to a life of happiness or contentment? Are you leading a life that you want, if not, how does one redirect themselves to a life that they want?

RSVP Here

February 2017 Events

Random Acts of Kindness:
Interactive Art Workshop

Saturday, February 18
10am-1pm
Hawthorne Library

In this drop-in event, artists from across Wisconsin will be joining us for an interactive art workshop. For this unique event, each artist will be setting up a station for participants to create art or pieces for random acts of kindness.

Featured Artists:

Jennifer Bastian: offering tea and conversation
Danika Brubaker: sharing ‘For the One Who Finds Me’ providing flower bouquets for strangers
Anja ‘La Prosette’ Notanja Sieger: Current Artist in Residence at Redline Milwaukee, offering personalized typewriter poetry for participants (See her featured on CBS Sunday Morning!) 
Katrina Lord: From @MKELoveLetter, Katrina will offer a station to write love letters to strangers
Mallory Shotwell: providing a positive spin on the parking tickets

This event is designed to create a wave of random acts of kindness in the Madison community. Each of these artists work independently, serving strangers in their actions, and hoping that these actions stir up other random acts of kindness. When we bring all of these people together, we create a tidal wave of kindness in the community.

Come to participate, be a part of the waves, and watch what happens.

 

Happy Hour: Happiness and Kindness

Wednesday, February 22
6pm-8pm
Field Table

Happy Hour is a philosophy group that discusses different aspects of happiness in our lives and in the community.

February will be our analysis on kindness and happiness. What is the relationship between kindness and happiness? How is kindness interpreted if you don’t understand it? Are there universal forms of kindness? Can you have happiness without kindness? Or kindness without happiness?

RSVP Here

Secret Missions 

Starting in February, we will start our secret missions.  Secret, pop-up creative placemaking endeavors that will encourage participation, art, discourse, and community development on a large scale.

We will only be sharing these on our facebook group, so please join us below to see what we’ll be doing.

Participate in the Secret Missions Here 

Sabrina | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

sabrinamadison

“There’s just so much to talk about, but I think literally the happiest moment of my life is my son. I had my son before my sixteenth birthday, and I wasn’t afraid it was just more so thinking about what I’m gonna do now, how am I gonna take care of this kid, and I had to make a very conscious decision about wanting a different life for him that what I had, and so the happiest moment just had to be the focus I had when I was raising him.  So it wasn’t just being a good parent, I wanted to have a child that didn’t have this chaotic lifestyle, I had to be more focused in my life, and my parenting, and making sure my life was together.  I think lots of parents feel this way, but it really is watching him grow, and putting things into him has allowed me to grow.  When I’m out in public and someone knows my son or has met my son, and then they are describing their relationship with my son whether it’s a five minute interaction or however long, and when they come back and tell me ‘you know your son is so awesome, so respectful, so great, he was this, that, or the other,’ THAT feels really really good for me because I’m happy all over again that I have this young man.

He’s almost 22 now, so he’s not this little boy anymore, but I would have not been so involved in community.  I wouldn’t know what it means to serve other people and what it means to work in a way that’s consistent and conscious in my relationship building, so I can’t be all bad attitude with folks because that leaves an impact on them.  The way I raise him and the way I interact with him, and then that’s how he goes out and that’s how he interacts with other people.  So through my son I am always having these happy moments because I’ve learned how to be with other people and how to work with other people, how to put other people’s needs first.  I get what I need out of it too, but I could have not come to this place without him.

I wasn’t expecting to have him, but now that I have him what am I going to do about it? At the time I was always in trouble, I was running away from home, I was fighting, so to have this child that I’m not responsible for and I have to figure out what to do and what I’m gonna do about myself.

And it’s my son that is continuously giving back to others, so it’s through him, through our continued relationship that I have learned how to be a better person, a better giver, a better supporter, a better server.

People teach us how to be better people overall, people are constantly teaching us, so he has been my happiest moment because what I have given to him has played out in other relationships. Being able to be his parent.  Truly I think I would have been a totally different person had I not been his parent.  I was that little jerk, but now watching him and getting to witness what you have done with him.  You get to see it right upfront.  He’s taught me to be more accepting, he has role modeled for me, so I can learn from him too.  So it’s not all in me, it’s watching him.  He’s always my happiest moment, because it’s always giving back.”

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Madison Community Discourse is creating a platform for discourse.  We are studying happiness to connect our city through experience. We are interviewing 200 people all over Madison to create a ‘portrait’ of happiness.  If you are interested in being interviewed, please email madisoncommunitydiscourse [at] gmail.com.

To see the full portrait, please click here.

To participate anonymously, please click here.

 

Angela | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

art madison wi

“One of the happiest moments of my life would be when I was on my way to England, it had been a year since I had been in England, and I came back, and I thought I would be coming to an empty airport and that I’d have to sleep in the airport because my hostel wasn’t going to be open, and I would have a very lonely experience coming in.  And I show up at the airport and one of my friends who I had met the year before was there with open arms, and a dozen roses, and a big smile on her face and was so happy to see me.  Her and her boyfriend took me home, and they let me sleep on her couch.  It was one of the greatest feelings ever to have someone who cares for you and is waiting for you, and you didn’t expect that, especially in a foreign country.

I also think about another airport experience when I was leaving the year before, it was an early morning flight so I had to take a bus to the airport the night before and again it meant sleeping in an airport, and all of my coworkers got on a bus with me, and stayed with me all night until I had to go.  Again, it was people who I had just befriended in a different country showing this support and love, and it was an amazing feeling.”

______________________________________________

Madison Community Discourse is creating a platform for discourse.  We are studying happiness to connect our city through experience. We are interviewing 200 people all over Madison to create a ‘portrait’ of happiness.  If you are interested in being interviewed, please email madisoncommunitydiscourse [at] gmail.com.

To see the full portrait, please visit our home page.

To see our events, please click here.

Amber | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

arts wisconsin

“There are two things to come to mind.  One is a specific moment and one is more place and time.  So the one moment, and oh, I might cry, from the time I was a little kid I always loved animals, and I had a poster of a really wrinkly puppy.  It was a really positive thing in my life and I knew I always wanted one of those dogs.  It was something happy in my life.

I learned that it was a shar pei, and so I did a lot of research on what Chinese shar peis were, and I couldn’t find any young dogs.  I had read a lot about the dogs, and sometimes when they are old from rescue, they can have a lot of issues, so long story short, I flew out to Boston two years ago and I got a shar pei.  I got a puppy and he’s my baby.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but it was one of the happiest moments of my life.  When I looked at him and he’s my little velvet wrinkle ball, I sobbed. My husband was there to capture pictures, so some people that know me think that I am the craziest dog owner ever, but I don’t know in my life if I’ll ever have children, so this is mine!

The other one I say isn’t a moment in time, but it’s my life, which is awesome.  It’s awesome to look at it and say that I am moving more and more into the happiest time in my life.  It feels awesome.  I feel like my whole life that everyone has struggles, and I was constantly having to overcome, overcome, overcome, challenges, challenges, challenges, cover things up, overcome, and now I am finally creating the life that I want. So I finally feel like I’m not overcoming and I am emerging, and it’s really good to see that transformation in myself.

I feel like crying.  Aww..”  And she smiles.

______________________________________________

Madison Community Discourse is creating a platform for discourse.  We are studying happiness to connect our city through experience. We are interviewing 200 people all over Madison to create a ‘portrait’ of happiness.  If you are interested in being interviewed, please email madisoncommunitydiscourse [at] gmail.com.

To see the full portrait, please visit our home page.

To see our events, please click here.

Caleb | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

caleb

“I am really really really happy when I play sharks and minnows.  And my bike.  I really like my bike.”

______________________________________________

Madison Community Discourse is creating a platform for discourse.  We are studying happiness to connect our city through experience. We are interviewing 200 people all over Madison to create a ‘portrait’ of happiness.  If you are interested in being interviewed, please email madisoncommunitydiscourse [at] gmail.com.

To see the full portrait, please visit our home page.

To see our events, please click here.

Stephanie | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

community art madison wi

“It’s hard to pick a happiest moment because there are so many different ways to be happy.

A few are coming to mind, but the one that is strong is the day that my wife and I got together. I remember the feeling the next day when I waking up, a little groggy, and then you remember.  And my eyes shot open, with this ridiculous smile on my face, I had this giddy feeling like ‘oh my gosh, I am so happy and so excited that I met this person who I really am intrigued by and I think is really awesome and cute.  Something is happening, and that feeling of possibility and that feeling of excitement, that electric giddy happiness, was really special. It just felt significant in a way I hadn’t experienced before.  So it was just really fun.  I was really useless at work and just mooned out the window all day, it was just so awesome.  It was a really happy moment.

I also think of doing Eat for Equity, and those were interesting days.  It was a lot of work, planning the menu, working with the them, and working with the beneficiaries to pick the theme, but there was this magic moment when it would all come together.  Where all the volunteers were there, the beneficiary was there, the people were showing up, the food was being cooked, and we had this incredible community of people coming together to make this.

There was this drumbeat of happiness throughout the day.  Even when it was stressful and we were running and doing five thousand things, even under all that there was this steady drumbeat of happiness that was mostly due to us creating things with people.  For me that gives me great joy.  Building a thing together, whatever that is, and the fact that is was through these organizations that were doing this amazing work to make our community a happier, healthier, and a better place to be made it a thousand times better.

 

_________________________________________________________________________

Madison Community Discourse is creating a platform for discourse.  We are studying happiness to connect our city through experience. We are interviewing 200 people all over Madison to create a ‘portrait’ of happiness.  If you are interested in being interviewed, please email madisoncommunitydiscourse [at] gmail.com.

To see the full portrait, please visit our home page.

To see our events, please click here.

Justin | Community Stories on Happiness | Madison Community Discourse

Justin Bitner Art

“My favorite happy moment is after my Grandma passed away, which is strange to say.  She was the coolest Grandma there was, she was so cool, and she taught me to play cards.  She taught me how to play cribbage, play piano, read music, she taught me how to cook, everything.  So that’s what I remember of her, just playing cribbage all the time.

After she passed away, everyone was divvying up her stuff, and I got a couple things – a buffet of hers, this really cool vase, but the thing I wanted was the cribbage board.  It turned out that they were able to find it, and I was able to get it.  And I still use it to this day, and it still has the little Battleship pegs.  It has the real pegs, but when we played we had to use the Battleship pegs, so we didn’t lose the real pegs.

I realized that I needed to find a deck of cards for the game, so I went to a thrift shop to get some, and I ran across this one deck.

My Grandma and I played with this one deck with cardinals on it, and I looked at this one that looked like ours.  I looked through it and knew that if it had this certain joker that it was it. I looked through, found the joker, and knew it was the exact same deck of cards that my Grandma and I used to play with.  So it was nice, one of those weird things where everything came together.

That was one of the happiest memories of my life.”

_______________________________________________________________________

Madison Community Discourse is a community arts nonprofit in Madison, WI.  We are studying happiness throughout the community to connect our city through experience. We do this through interviews, events, and creative placemaking explorations.

To connect people through experience, we are interviewing 200 people all over Madison to create a ‘portrait’ of happiness.  If you are interested in being interviewed, please email madisoncommunitydiscourse [at] gmail.com.

To see the full portrait, please visit our home page.

To see our events, please click here.

Holly | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

community art madison wi-study on happiness

“I would have to say I’ve had a lot of happy moments, which is a really beautiful blessing. Probably one of my happiest moments was when my daughter decided to move here, she decided to move here under really hard circumstances.  She had lived in Missouri her whole life and I had lived here a couple of years already.  My son also lives in Missouri part time.  So it was a really hard decision for her, but one of my happiest moments was knowing that she had this inner strength, but also feeling that as a parent that I had to have that inner strength to give to her, and to guide her through that.  In that we also helped her brother, guiding him through that inner strength.

So I think that maybe one of my happiest moment was feeling like I had done something really good and strong for my children, and seeing her be strong. I am hoping that also rubs off on him.  So I guess for me, seeing my children be strong is happiness.  Feeling that strength and finding gifts in hardships.  Finding things that mean something when things are really hard.  Looking at the lessons that we have learned and knowing that nothing lasts forever.  Loneliness doesn’t last forever, sadness doesn’t last forever, hardships don’t last forever.  I think that happiness can also be fleeting, but it’s always there, it can be deflected for a moment.

So I think that was my happiest moment was having her come to live here and knowing that she trusted me enough to help her with her own situation and her own happiness, seeing her turn around and help her brother through and the people around her has been the most beautiful gift probably ever.

Happiness can be fleeting, it’s important to not hold on to it so tight, it will come back.  The ins and outs, ups and downs, and riding those downs through, looking around and appreciating it.  Even the winter days that are long and cold, I mean we have these lakes and it’s so beautiful. We lived in Missouri and we were never able to walk on a frozen lake.  So finding the beauty in life, even in the coldest of days.

I think that was my happiest moment was empowering her to be strong. And I thought ‘Oh my God, I might have had something to do with that.’

I want her to inspire herself, because she’s out in this world.  She’s twenty now, so she’s a woman. That’s my job, that’s all of our jobs as mentors and teachers or as friends to make sure the people around us are happy and healthy and surviving and knowing that they’re not alone no matter what hardship there is.  We celebrate the goodness and celebrating the hardships, saying ‘wow, you made it through that, look at you, you’re amazing.’

_______________________________________________________________________

Madison Community Discourse is a community arts nonprofit in Madison, WI.  We are studying happiness to connect our city through experience. We are interviewing 200 people all over Madison to create a ‘portrait’ of happiness.  If you are interested in being interviewed, please email madisoncommunitydiscourse [at] gmail.com.

To see the full portrait, please visit our home page.

To see our events, please click here.

Emily | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

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“I think that when I got out of a relationship down in Texas, I was living down there and moved back to Wisconsin. Before I even moved back, I started realizing this sense of freedom and being able to be free and be who I am and not caged.  Not only caged by another person and their expectations of me, but also the expectations of society.  Since I’ve been able to break out of this cage, these walls that people had enclosed on me, and those that I’ve closed around me in fear, it’s when I’ve been able to feel the most happy that I’ve ever been.  I think that sometimes we get a sense of fear that comes to us and it encloses us, and those are the moments of discomfort and unhappiness. When we’re able to break free from those is when we’re able to feel the most free and alive.

So for me in the past few years, I’ve done a lot of exploration. I choose to travel and hike and explore the city and explore relationships with people and my own skills too, and I think through doing all that I’ve been able to find this freedom to be exactly who I am, and that’s happiness to me.

It’s just being and living the way that I’m supposed to live.  And being able to have respect for other people with that too, not pressing my ideas of the way to live on how to live on other people.  Starting the company was a huge thing, there are a lot of times when it feels enclosing, isolating, trapped by money, but I’m seeking the freedom of my life, and I’ve learned to be very happy with very little, and I’ve been able to find out what the value of money and what that means in terms of happiness.  Because I haven’t needed a lot to feel extreme happiness, you think about how other people live in other countries and the small amount that they have…  So when I think about that, I feel the most alive and happiest, I am free to be me.”

 

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We are creating a platform for discourse.  Events, creative placemaking, and interviews to connect our city through experience.  We are interviewing 200 people all over Madison to create a ‘portrait’ of happiness.  If you are interested in being interviewed, please email madisoncommunitydiscourse [at] gmail.com.

To see the full portrait, please visit our home page.

Danika | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

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“So one of the happiest moments of my life was when my daughter was born.  She was born at home and that was a somewhat controversial choice that we made and things did not go completely as planned as birth can go. There was a moment when we were almost ready to transfer to a hospital, she just was not coming along, and in the final hour with a great team of midwives and her Dad, she was finally born and we got to meet her. She was giant, healthy, lovely, and the first thing I said to her was “I don’t understand you.” It was just amazing to meet this new brand new person and definitely such a happy moment in my life to finally get to meet her.

It was the contrast of worrying about her and wondering if we were going to make it and it we were going to need medical intervention. It was the not complete peaceful birth we imagined, it was a little bit fraught and so, but that contrast made it even happier when she was fine and everyone was okay, and we got to enjoy the day together.

Really that contrast brought out the intense high of that moment.”

 

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We are interviewing 200 people all over Madison to create a ‘portrait’ of happiness.  If you are interested in being interviewed, please email madisoncommunitydiscourse [at] gmail.com.

To see the full portrait, please visit our home page.

Barbara | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

barbara-0047

“Well, right away I thought of the happiest moment of my life,  I thought of my daughters.  But actually, I was also thinking that I think I am extremely happy with where I am with my life.  I think that knowing that things don’t have to be perfect.  I feel like I have completed a career, 41 years in social work, and retired.

I am building my business, Mary’s Daughter, where I am paying bills for seniors and veterans. And my thing is being able to do it out of love and giving, versus out of a need to support myself.  I no longer have that as a priority because that’s been taken care of because I’ve been planful.  So there’s a sense of contentment. I’m an optimistic person to begin with, but it feels really really great right now. Waking up and having my day be my day, and enjoying and appreciating the ability to support other people and their goals. So I’m feeling very inspired and very happy.  I went to the gym today and worked out and even with some aches and pains, pushing through it, and being able to do what I need and want to do.

I feel like I’m at a good place to realize that happiness.  I’m 65, so still young enough to appreciate and see that there’s lots that I can be doing, but there’s no need to push. So people call that an encore entrepreneur or a retiree rebel, and all of us are bounding together to show people that you can do nothing and enjoy life and travel and all that, and that’s cool, or you can do some things that continue the work you started, but do it at your own pace and in your own way.  I mean, how freeing it that?  So, life is good.”

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We are interviewing 200 people all over Madison to create a ‘portrait’ of happiness.  If you are interested in being interviewed, please email madisoncommunitydiscourse [at] gmail.com.

To see the full portrait, please visit our home page.