Hug a stranger, change your city: a social trust photo album

by Seth Geiser on

‘Do you two know each other?” Study after study has confirmed that social connectedness is a prime determinant of human well-being. It’s interesting to note then, that the vast majority of people in our lives, from passing acquaintances to old friends, were initially strangers. When is the moment that strangers become people worth trusting? Richard Renaldi explored this idea in his photo series, ‘Touching Strangers’, in which he encouraged strangers in… Continue reading

Upcycled Urbanism: street hacking with MOV

by Charles Montgomery on

My flat-out funnest moment in 2013 involved one street, hundreds of giant building blocks and two fire trucks, in an experience that shouted loudly about the alchemy the that happens when people–lots of people–are empowered to play with urban design. I’ll get to the fire trucks later, but here’s the back story: For one day in July, hundreds of people came together to re-invent a Vancouver street using giant blocks… Continue reading

On the sunny side of the street

by Charles Montgomery on

Architects love to hate Disneyland for its shameless nostalgia and fakery. But psychologists and neuroscientists are fascinated by the place. Disney and his designers showed an uncanny understanding of the way that architecture affects emotions, neuroimmunologist Esther Sternberg told me. “They figured out in the 1950s and ’60s, long before we understood neuroscience, exactly how to use design to get people from a place of anxiety and fear to a… Continue reading

Three stories, one message: we can all use design for happiness

by Charles Montgomery on

The best thing about researching Happy City was getting a chance to see how designers, engineers and regular people are using design to improve human experience in cities. Now Jessica Leber at Fast Company has pulled three excerpts from the book that tell this story vividly. The first looks at how the design of our homes and neighbourhoods can influence how many local friends we have, without us even knowing… Continue reading

A Night of Social Experimentation At the Guggenheim

by Seth Geiser on

By Seth Geiser There were no book readings at the NYC launch of Happy City. Instead, we transformed the Participatory City gallery at the Guggenheim Museum into a laboratory of interactive experiments in social trust and happiness. Our goal: to explore, in a visceral way, the relationship between the design of our cities and the shape of human experience. “We are not as free as we might think in cities,” Charles explained.… Continue reading