Vancouver plans for social connections

by Charles Montgomery on

Cities are realizing that social connections are a key driver of well-being. The City of Vancouver has tried to turn this truth into action. Last year the city formed an Engaged City Task Force. We were pleased to see that the team took inspiration from Happy City. Read the report here. The team recognized that it’s not enough to get neighbours talking to each other. Government needs to join the conversation. We need new… Continue reading

Airport altruism: chasing happiness on the way to somewhere else

by Charles Montgomery on

I have to thank Paul Zak for inspiring my latest piece in enRoute Magazine. Paul is the neuroscientist whose book, The Moral Molecule explores the incredible role that the hormone oxytocin plays in human behaviour. Its lesson is straightforward: our brains reward us for being nice to other people. As I explain in the story, Paul is not a shy guy. He lives the lessons of his science, which means… Continue reading

Green, Grey and the Good City: learning from Berlin

by Charles Montgomery on

On a blustery, rainy July day, more than 40 people showed up to join an urbanist experiment at the BMW Guggenheim Lab in Berlin. I was amazed to see them. For one thing, the weather was miserable. For another, none of them knew exactly what they were about to be subject to. This, I learned, was typical. Berliners are up for it, especially if they suspect they will get a… Continue reading

Are apartment residents more lonely and less trusting? @VancouverFdn study says yes.

by Charles Montgomery on

As the Vancouver Foundation starts to dig deeper into its Connections and Engagement survey results, it is finding plenty to worry about in our increasingly dense, hybrid city. The latest statistical dispatch has this disquieting salvo for Vancouverism: People living in high rise towers were about half as likely to say they had done a favour for a neighbour as were people living in detached homes. They were much less… Continue reading

Biophelia and Berlin: can green space make urbanites kinder?

by Charles Montgomery on

Is it possible to design cities in a way that makes people nicer? I began asking this question at the BMW Guggenheim Lab last year, when Colin Ellard and I found that certain places in NYC’s Lower East Side caused our tour participants to feel more or less happy than others. What made people cheeriest? A humble community garden in Sara Roosevelt Park. This reflected a mountain of existing research… Continue reading