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.


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]

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.

Sarah | Community Stories | Madison Community Discourse


When you first said ‘your happiest moment’, I started thinking of specific moments in time when you think ‘well, this was a really good feeling, or this was a really good event, but when I think of what happiness has started to mean to me, it’s more of a phase.  And so, I think that I’ve felt the most happiest in my own skin when I quit my job and my career to pursue building my business.  And I think it was the combination of doing something that was so scary to me and so shocking to people who were doing the more traditional thing in my life, and that really started to feel comfortable and real to me.  And so, I don’t think that I knew what happiness was most of my life.  I think I was always in survival mode and i think I was always trying to find the perfect answer of what life should be like.  And especially after my momdied, it was more so.  It was like, okay, this is what I should be doing, this is what my life is supposed to be like.  I’ve got to finish school, get a house, get married, get a job, be successful, blah blah blah.

But it always felt like zombie-mode.  And so I think when I started to own my life and start to make some decisions, I think that it took me living as an adult for ten years that way, and all of sudden I realized that it doesn’t have to be this way.  It really doesn’t.  ANd my mom had been gone for a long time, and it was the first time I could realize and have the inkling that I could make my own choices for myself, it wasn’t what everybody else was telling me. It wasn’t what she was telling me.  It wasn’t what my family was telling me. It was like I could actually say no to all that.

So I think when I made that decision to do all that, I came to be in one of the happiest times of my life.  It’s mine and I’m doing something even if other people don’t think it’s right.  I’m starting to understand who I am and own that. And it’s not always happy, sometimes its very stressful, but overall that’s what happiness is to me.  Truly experiencing all those feelings and all of those emotions that happen with existing versus just doing because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

I feel like people feel think that happiness is supposed to be this really good feeling that happens you’re going to feel joyful all the time, and that’s not what it means to me.  I think it means being true to yourself.


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]

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