Meg | Community stories

Happy Madison Wi

“There are many happy moments in my life.  But when I think about it, I think of two specifically.

First there was the birth of my son.  He was not a planned pregnancy,  but I was happy to roll with it.  I was wondering how I would do this, I was scared, but then when I had him, I thought ‘oh my god, look at him!  He’s mine!’ and the same thing for my daughter as well.  Again, it wasn’t planned, but everything happens for a reason.  Those two moments were probably the happiest.

But there are the little things as well.  When I graduated from college, or even when I got my website up, I know that what I am doing is right, and it feels right.  I know that I did that, and no one can take it away from me.  Little things throughout the day make me very happy, and it’s good to see those. ”


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 hello@madisoncommunitydiscourse.com

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.”

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.

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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 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.”

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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 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.

 

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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 visit our home page.

To see our events, please click here.

Gregg | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

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“I thought about your question before you asked it, and I can come up with theoretical feeling. I remember that I would call thoughts happy at some point, but I’ve been struggling with pretty severe depression for a while and trying to figure out the best way to deal with it.  So now my sense of what my happy moments are seem really theoretical, it’s hard to connect with them emotionally, but I can look back and know that I think I called that being happy. So with that proviso, let’s see now.

More recently I was very happy when I got accepted in an MFA program for writing with a full scholarship, but then I discovered that I did not get a full scholarship and I couldn’t go.  So, maybe that’s the depressive thing talking.  Sort of like saying, ‘Yeah, I was really happy and it was an illusion.’

But that would be one thing, but it was a mistake and I ended up feeling foolish and wrong.”

After a pause, he continues.

“I was very happy when my son was born, but it was so much mixed up with sheer terror that it was an especially inflective happiness, almost kind of a hysterical happiness.  So that was something.

I was happy when I was accepted to art school for the second time.  The first time I was too young and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I felt really ambivalent about it, but it was three or four years later I applied to a different school.  I was happy for that.

I was happy with my first show in New York.

More recently I was really happy when I got a novella published in a journal that I had been trying to get into for years.  Two or three years, and I had been working on this piece for eight years, sending it out and had it rejected for seven or eight years.  When it finally got published, I felt really good.

It’s hard to remember, honestly.  I think my feeling about happiness is a tiny little increments of  ‘I got through this day, I think I did a pretty good job in this class, very tiny modest bits.  So my sense of happy is much smaller.

I was really happy when I fell in love with someone, but then they dumped me.  You see, depression is kind of like that.

Depression changes my perspective.  I can’t remember ordinary pleasures, the kind of happiness when you have that first cup of coffee in the morning, or you have a nice conversation with somebody, you work out and feel good, that kind of stuff I can’t even remember.

You know what happened, it’s sort of like a theoretical appreciation of it, but I don’t remember the feeling.  So that’s the worst part of depression.  I think I’m a pretty proud, fairly stoic person, so trying to be this open is something I’m working on, because I think it might help.  But I take pride and doing my writing and doing my artwork everyday, whether I feel really terrible or not, so that’s something I do that I think helps.  But feeling hopeful about the future is something I can’t even remember.

I have been feeling this way a long time, but I think I’ve masked it or taken medication for many years that made it more manageable. More recently I’ve thought maybe I should try not to take anything, so that’s been one of the reasons that all of this is much more acute, but I thought maybe I can learn or do therapy, get a better handle on what is going on.  Make it better.

So I think fundamentally I am doing better, I am doing this to get better.

Everything is really dark and small and no hopefulness or joy, ordinary joy.  I don’t expect happy, you know the kind of thing that gets you up in the morning and makes you feel like there’s stuff I wanna do, and I can give things to people, and it’s good to alive, that kind of thing.  I miss that.

I get so self-conscious about talking to about this stuff.  I know that it’s gotta be making people feel bad, but to a certain extent it is a really good thing to do.  An awful lot of people feel this way, and it’s okay to talk about, and we can help each other and it’ll be alright.

When I talk about this stuff, people say it’s okay, but some people don’t talk about it because they feel ashamed or stupid.  And you don’t want to make other people feel bad.  Or, like awkward because they don’t know what to say.  You know, you don’t have to say anything,” he laughs, “just listen to me. It’s okay.”

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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 visit our home page.

To see our events, please click here.

 

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.

September News | A New Year, A New Study | Madison Community Discourse

What is happiness, anyway? And why do we need to study it?

According to Google, happiness is commonly searched term in Wisconsin. According to their topic search site, an average of 77 people a day search for the meaning of happiness or related topics in Madison alone.  We are looking for answers, we are looking for connection.

Happiness as defined by Websters and other modern dictionaries, cannot be defined without using a synonym of happiness.  Joy, elation, spirited are frequently used to describe such a word.

We at Madison Community Discourse are taking this topic by the horns.  We are studying it over a one year period – academically, socially, culturally, personally, to find what it means to the city of Madison.

Our mission?  To connect people through their experiences.  (The formal description is in the ‘about’ section) We want to make our city better, stronger, happier.  We believe that when people get to know one another, they understand people better, and they will care more.

How will we do this?

Our goal is to interview two hundred people over the course of one year.  People of all ages, races, genders, religions, backgrounds.  We are ensuring that a very diverse crowd of people are interviewed in this process.  We ask people one question, photograph them, and share their photo on this site.  This creates a “portrait” of what happiness is in Madison.

We really want to reach people, engage them in their community. People are looking for happiness, seeking the answers online or in self-help books. We think the answers lie within ourselves, in the people around us, in the footprints of the people before us. We are also hosting events each month to get people thinking, talking, sharing, opening up, even becoming vulnerable to their community.  We want one less stranger, and one more friend.

There are two types of events that will occur.  One will be a discussion group for everyone called ‘Happy Hour’.  We offer ideas and we share them.  For example, what IS happiness, anyway?  What is it to you?  What does it look like?  What does it feel like when you experience that?  Do you seek happiness?

The second is an community art workshop that will be held monthly.  This is a ‘making’ workshop, where we explore topics that are related to happiness – joy, play, relationships, mindfulness, gratitude, kindness, legacy, and more.  Here we reflect and actively engage in activities that relate to our own interpersonal happiness.  Future events will include making gratitude lists, setting goals for our lives, brainstorming and jump-starting random acts of kindness, creating happiness maps, and more. We are expressing ourselves, and we are building a support network of people that will help you through it.

At the end of this study, in October 2017, we will have interviewed 200 people, hosted 24 workshops, built a ‘portrait’ of people sharing their wisdom and experiences, created a platform for support, expression, and wellbeing in our community, and we will share the work that the community has done in an interactive community art exhibition.  It will coordinate with gallery night of that month.

We are strong in our mission, and we are excited to bring it to you.  Each interview, workshop, day and month is dedicated to making our community stronger, connecting people who didn’t yet know each other, and shining a light of wisdom and beauty in a world where we need it.

Madison is searching for happiness.  Let us find it together.  Let’s be stronger through that.

I look forward to sharing the year with you and seeing where we go.