April | Community Stories

“Two happy moments came to mind right away, one was when I was alone, and one was in a group.

I had just gotten a divorce and quit my career job, and was traveling on a road trip through the Pacific Northwest.  The first happy moment that comes to mind was in the midst of a conference, with a group of like-minded people.  The conference was called the World Domination Summit, and I was sitting there realizing that these people were the tribe that I didn’t know existed.  It was one of the first moments that I had where I thought that there are people like me.  And there is good in the world.  There are people who want to make good happen in the world, and I am a part of a movement.

The happy moment was realizing that are other people who want to change the world through happiness, compassion, and love. There are a lot of people that want to do it in the same way.  And it felt inclusive.”

She pauses.

“I’m gonna give you two, if that’s okay.” April adds.

“Yes, of course!”

“I think on my own, the happiest moments have all been very similar, but one that I can think of was just sitting in nature, and feeling the same exact feeling that I had at the conference, but instead it was coming from people, it was coming from the universe.  I had felt so alone, and at that moment I didn’t feel alone.  I just knew that I am here on this Earth to do things, and there was a fullness in that moment.  I was able to soak in the beauty of that moment in time.

So both of these moments were very much the same, and I’ve had similar instances since then, but that summer in 2013, was the summer that I realized that okay, I’m not crazy for quitting my job, and having my marriage end in divorce, and moving on with my life, I can do this because there is a purpose for all of this.  So happiness to me is feeling comfort with my humanity and who I am.  My purpose may feel insignificant at times, but it’s very important and significant.”

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

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.