A City Pays it Forward

For Random Acts of Kindness Day, we are happy to share our official video for our City-Wide Pay it Forward coffee chain on Feb 4.

On this day, a Madison, Wisconsin we wanted to initiate not just a ripple of kindness, but a tidal wave of kindness in the community.

There were 10 participating coffee shops. Over 1,000 people bought coffee for a stranger in this awesome day (and only half the coffee shops were counting people!)

Big thanks to Grant Brooks at Momentum Medium for shooting it!
http://www.movementmedium.com/portfolio

Shared words:

“ Thanks for reminding us that even these small acts can make both us and others feel good.”

“Just wanted to share that several friends not involved in the event have reported getting their coffee paid for by the person ahead of them over the weekend and into today, and I think it’s totally due to this still! It’s put the idea in people’s minds. Fun to see how far these things can spread”

“ What I loved about today was the anonymity. The generosity of the stranger ahead of me. Not knowing the one behind me, and his response. How often do we do kind things for strangers without any expectation of anything, even a thank you in return? Not enough.”

“ I think I’ll be smiling all day from these tiny acts of kindness or secret missions that people are doing all over Madison today. In drive thru coffee shops not only order your coffee but buy the one for the person behind you. I just bought a coffee for the lady waiting behind me and while we were waiting for our orders to come out, she hopped out of her car and expressed how thankful she was and that no ones ever done that for her before. Spread happiness.”

❤ Thank you Madison Community Discourse for creating this amazingly simple and moving event.”

“ So far, so good! Just came from MOKA on E Wash. My coffee drink was paid for (thank you to the gentleman in front of me!) and of course I paid forward.”

“ I am not in Madison, but I just did a pay it forward parking payment. Not sure the reaction, but I felt good about it. Here’s to paying it forward!!

“Paid for the car behind me in line at Starbucks Gammon Place. It felt good!#mcdhappiness #payitforward

Valerie | Community Stories

“The happiest moment of my life was realizing that life can go on after loss.  So, at a very young age I lost my brother to suicide.  And he was just weeks away from his 21st birthday and I was 24.  Just after finding that out, I turned around and saw the person that is now my husband, standing, waiting there for me out of nowhere.  He was there, and he was there to support me.

Normally that would be a very traumatic time for someone, but I was able to take the love and support that I could and ran with it.  From there, we started a relationship, and now a family.  You never know where life will take you, so you have to embrace all of life’s adventures.”


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.”

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.”

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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.

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.

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.’

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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.

Gregg | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

gregg-willard-0100

“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

danika-laine-0003

“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.

Madison Community Discourse | News and Updates | Community art nonprofit

We are so excited to officially start the year studying happiness in the city of Madison.  We are taking this on as a real study, ensuring that the people in our town truly are engaging with each other, connecting with each other, and building a stronger sense of belonging.

Our goal is to interview two hundred people over the course of the year.  In the two weeks that we have officially been working on the project, we have already interviewed 26 people and have started to release the interviews.  We will be releasing two a week over the course of the year.  All ages, races, genders, backgrounds will be our focus, reflecting what Madison really is and who the people in it are like.

Click on the pictures below to see our portraits of happiness that we have shared this month.

wp-1475244400511.jpg    barbara-0047

 

sarah-artz-0025         sara-meredith-0041

 

We are asking each and every person the same question and the results have been incredible.  People are so wise, so fascinating.  They each have their own perspectives and stories to share.  This is a vulnerable moment:  sharing your world with the public, and we are so honored when people participate.  

We are even more amazed and frankly, happy, when people are engaging in other people’s responses.  It gives a glimpse into someone else’s world, allows us to step into their shoes for a moment, and if we are lucky, we can see through their eyes.  The project, the goal, is already starting to work.  We are already starting to connect people through our website and through various social media.

There are two scheduled events for the coming month and we hope that you can attend.  

Our ‘making’ workshop will be an interactive art experience called Frame of Mind.  Here we examine positive thinking and its affects on our emotional state.  We present related research that we have collected on positive thinking, play a game that engages this topic, and create art that will help retrain your mind to think positively.

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This free event will be held at the Pinney Library on October 15, from 10am-12pm.  It is designed for teens and adults, but children are welcome to interact as well.  There is the children’s play area in the library close by as well.  

The second event is our discussion group called “Happy Hour.”  Here we collectively discuss different components of happiness and what it means to us individually and as a community.  In this first Happy Hour, we will share our ideas about happiness and its definition. What does it mean and how does it shape our lives? Are we SUPPOSED to be happy all the time?

This is a group where people can connect with new people, share their ideas and thoughts, and these larger social issues on the topic of happiness. We believe that through this social discussion group, we can explore new perspectives and understand our community, and our world, better.

The first Happy Hour will be hosted at Old Sugar Distillery on October 26, from 6-8pm.  

All of the events and workshops that we are creating is building towards our exhibition that will be held in October 2017.  This will be unlike any other exhibition that we have hosted.  There are many details to work out, but it is all very exciting.  And hard to keep it secret.  Details to come as the months roll on.

We at MCD are committed to forming community partnerships of all kinds.  We have many worked out already, but if you have any suggestions or would like to be a part of the project, please email us at madisoncommunitydiscourse [at] gmail.com.

Please see more on our Frame of Mind workshop here.  

Please see more on our Happy Hour workshop here.  

We are on the forefront of an amazing year, the start of something that will change our city.    With this ripple of happiness, we will share in something great together, something that will make us happier, more connected.

Thank you so much for your support of the project.  We could not do it without you.

Sara | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse

sara-meredith-0041

“I try not to pin happiness to one moment. I kind of knew what you were going to ask… there have been several happy moment in my life, but recently I’ve been focusing on being happy everyday.  So what does that look like?  How can you continue to be happy and it’s really about embracing you and what you have to offer, what it is that is you and not having any fear to show that.  And that’s where you can really be happy every day.

For me, the overlying answer for that is for people to express their creativity.  And that’s why I do what I do, that’s why I teach classes.  That’s why I’m an artist. Because without that I don’t think I’d be a happy person and trying to give that gift to my kids and to people.  If somebody shows me something that they’ve created, I’m not gonna say I like it or I don’t, because that’s not up to me.  If they’re showing me something that they created or a project or a creative project, that is an expression of somebody so I don’t believe I can tell you ‘oh that’s good or that’s bad’ because that expression is beautiful.  Whether I value the aesthetic or not, is a totally different story, so I’m trying to get people to go back to themselves and using creativity to express that.

I could say that happiest moment was then I got married, but then I had kids, then you get a house, so there’s all these monumental things happen, and you think oh, that was supposed to happen, but how do you propel your life forward?

I do think that gratefulness is a huge part of being present, and appreciating what you have, but also being open for positive things to happen in your life.  So, gratefulness, creativity are ways that you can be happy every day.

And you’re going to have shitty days,  but if you can have these tools, you can look at it like, okay that happened, how it that a blessing to me. How does that one thing that I didn’t want to happen, but happened, or these things that have been happening, how is this a blessing wrapped in sandpaper.  How is that something that happened to me bringing me to the spot where I am now.

So really bad shit happens, but it is actually 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.

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.