Arrival Cities
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Arrival Cities
being an immigrant or living in a "slum" is a feature not a bug
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Five steps for a high well-being society

Five steps for a high well-being society | Arrival Cities |
It’s now eight years since David Cameron first declared that “it's time we focused not just on GDP, but on GWB - general well-being” and in that time the UK has become a global leader by measuring national well-being – but we have yet to make the leap from measurement to action.

. . . 

A new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Wellbeing Economics, for which NEF acts as the secretariat, explodes both of these myths. The group, which includes parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, argues that well-being matters more, not less, in difficult economic times:  we care about recessions because we care about unemployment, and we care about unemployment because we care about people’s well-being. And they show that well-being offers a real alternative to business-as-usual policy making, from the way we run the economy to the way we run our schools.


The report is based on a nine-month inquiry which explored well-being in relation to four diverse policy areas. In each of these, the evidence threw up both some distinctive policy priorities and some fresh approaches to old problems. The report makes five key recommendations for building a high well-being society:


1) Focus on stable jobs, not growth

2) Promote shorter, more flexible working hours

3) More green spaces in our cities

4) Mindfulness training for doctors and teachers

5) Invest in arts and culture

Via Flora Moon
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Summary of recent happiness research

Summary of recent happiness research | Arrival Cities |
The “set point” theorists have argued that everyone has some baseline level of happiness (some are relatively happy, some unhappy) and that good or bad events (winning a lottery, losing a leg) momentarily dislodge a person from their set point but they return to their baseline level of happiness over a period of months or years. Helliwell says that the data do not support this notion that we adapt to everything.

[UPDATED 6/1/2012]
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Happiness in the City : Tracking Well-being

The Social Capital Blog has been reporting on some happiness and subjective wellbeing research. [See this post and this], including a post on how the UK government is starting to track happiness with a goal of increasing national well-being.

Keep an eye on John Helliwell, emeritus professor of economics at UBC and co-director of a CIFAR panel, who is looking into Social Interactions, Identity and Wellbeing.  The article summarizes the three major points of his and other's recent research on happiness in the social context of well-being.

1. The positive trumps the negative

2. Community trumps materialism

3. Generosity trumps selfishness

"Helliwell believes that a participatory process is key to happiness."  He references the work of  Alex Haslam, a social psychologist who found that unhappy workers at an eldercare facility became happier by "collectively designing" the public spaces at a new workplace they moved to.

In context of Arrival Cities, Heliwell noted that "immigration challenges community levels of happiness since it is harder for immigrants to get involved and be connected", due to severd relationships from homelands, language issues, and difficulty of connecting with community while holding down multiple jobs.  he points ot the work of Irene Bloemraad on multiculturalism involving the "bonding and bridging social ties" of both migrants to fellow migrants and natives. It is said that "bonding ties often precede the bridging ties and it is not until immigrants feel that they have their own bonding support networks that they feel comfortable reaching out."

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Can cities help you forget your troubles? C’mon, get happy!

Can cities help you forget your troubles? C’mon, get happy! | Arrival Cities |

We’re starting to get our arms around some of the bigger public health issues connecting society with the built environment, particularly on the obesity, diabetes and depression fronts.

Now, we’re starting to get our arms around some of the bigger public health issues connecting society with the built environment, particularly on the obesity, diabetes and depression fronts. Proponents of gross national happiness to augment gross national product would like to see our society focused on conserving instead of consuming and connectivity instead of distrust. (...)

And it’s interesting how some things go full circle, with a healthy society making for a healthy economy. ‎60% of East Coast developers say, “to stay competitive, they are shifting away from bigger traditional home designs to conservative pedestrian-oriented mixed-use neighbourhoods.” People get more enduring happiness from experiences in their neighbourhood than possessions in their home. (...)

“A good city is like a good party – people stay much longer than really necessary because they are enjoying themselves,” per Jan Gehl, author of a City for People, and leader of Copenhagen’s transformation to a bikeable, walkable city. Gehl encourages urban design from the perspective of the five senses, taken at walking speed. This eye-level approach does much to address the needs — and the happiness — of the individual.

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How conservation projects are improving public health

How conservation projects are improving public health | Arrival Cities |

Green Gym aims to improve people's mental and physical wellbeing through involvement in conservation activities...

After a series of personal tragedies, Derek Langford hit rock bottom last year – he suffered a breakdown, took solace in drink and finally, attempted to take his own life.

Mercifully, the pills did not work and he found his way – via his community psychiatric nurse – to a Green Gym near his home in Birmingham's Sandwell neighbourhood. The project, designed to improve people's mental and physical wellbeing through their involvement in conservation activities and run by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), has renewed his zest for life.

"I really was a total mess," admits Langford, 43, a former tarmacker. "For months I just sat there, drinking – I just couldn't get out of it. I'm still living day by day, but overall I'm now in a much better place."

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Plan to crowdsource a happy city

Plan to crowdsource a happy city | Arrival Cities |

Researchers aim to find out where the happiest and most peaceful places in London are by crowdsourcing images of the capital.

"With a comprehensive list of aesthetic virtues at hand, we would be more likely to systematically understand and recreate the environments we intuitively love," said lead researcher Daniele Quercia, from Cambridge University's Computing Laboratory. (...)

The long-term plan is that the site can start to offer personalised recommendations of city spaces. Users will also be able to upload and tag pictures of their own "happy spaces" to create what the researchers describe as "like a dating website that matches Londoners to their most suitable urban oasis".

Via Viktor Markowski
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Your Brain Really Wants To Be In Nature

Your Brain Really Wants To Be In Nature | Arrival Cities |
If (like me) you’ve been sitting at your desk for too long, then you really ought to get up, find the nearest park, and go for a nice walk.


Writing about the paper, Richard Coyne (Researcher at Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh) says the work shows the public benefits of investing in greenery:


"Our study has implications for promoting urban green space to enhance mood, important in encouraging people to walk more or engage in other forms of physical or reflective activity. More green plazas, parkland, trees, access to the countryside, and urban design and architecture that incorporates more of the atmosphere of outdoor open space are all good for our health and wellbeing."

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Small Public Urban Green Spaces (SPUGS) in Copenhagen, Denmark | Research

Small Public Urban Green Spaces (SPUGS) in Copenhagen, Denmark | Research | Arrival Cities |

Biophilic cities are cities with easy access to natural areas, both large and small. Large urban parks are undoubtedly great places for connection with nature, but smaller parks have benefits as well. Researchers in Denmark have conducted a study to determine the most common uses of Small Public Urban Green Spaces (SPUGS), also known as Pocket Parks. These small areas of urban nature are typically found in areas of extreme population density, and therefore have the potential for large numbers of people to access them easily. Throughout the summer of 2010, Karin K. Peschardt of the University of Copenhagen visited nine SPUGS regularly to document who was using these parks, and for what purposes. (...)

The results of the study concluded that most park users visited SPUGS for socializing and “rest and restitution” (Peschardt 240). Furthermore, the data suggest that those visiting SPUGS for relaxation spend less time in the SPUGS than those who use the spaces for socializing. Significantly, nearly 80% of respondents did not have access to a private garden at home, reinforcing the need for such urban natural areas in close proximity to high-density living. Finally, the study infers that since the SPUGS examined are used mainly for reasons pertaining to “social and mental wellbeing,” these spaces have potential health benefits and it would be wise to increase their number for the benefit of city residents, particularly those living at high densities without access to other green spaces nearby (Peschardt 243). (...)

While Pocket Parks and the Small Public Urban Green Spaces studied here are small, this by no means limits their significance. In fact, their size makes it easier to locate them in close proximity to large numbers of urban residents. When cities such as Copenhagen and Los Angeles and many others prioritize implementation of small urban natural areas, they create opportunities for urban residents to interact with nature as part of their daily lives, a key element in designing and planning truly biophilic cities.

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Stress and the city: Urban decay

Stress and the city: Urban decay | Arrival Cities |

Scientists are testing the idea that the stress of modern city life is a breeding ground for psychosis.

Global urbanization is making the question an urgent one, writes Alison Abbott.  She reports that "a few scientists are tackling the question head on, using functional brain imaging and digital monitoring to see how people living in cities and rural areas differ in the way that their brains process stressful situations."

".. if scientists can work out what aspects of the city are the most stressful," says Abbott, "the findings might even help to improve the design of urban areas."

"'Everyone wants the city to be beautiful but no-one knows what that means,' says Meyer-Lindenberg. Wider streets? Taller buildings? More trees? 'Architects theorize a lot, but this type of project could deliver a scientific basis for a city code.'”

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KARE Givers: Thinking, feeling and being in schools... by @graingered

... we need to look through a more empathic lens in attempting to understand not how people (kids) feel, but rather why what they feel (or not feel) makes them do the debilitating things they do. When teachers look through this altered lens they stop blaming the child for the problem, and start looking for other social and environmental factors that can erode empathy, including neglect and abuse.

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What GNH (Gross National Happiness) measures

Gross National Happiness #GNHin  Butan measures: compassion,social sustainable development, fairness of distribution, environmental conservation.


They want to be 100% organic & biodynamic. They pledge to be carbon neutral. They also measure material and inmaterial dimension of education and are moving from a monarchy to a democracy. All the hierarchy reports from the point of view of GNH.


GNH is Not hippie happiness but: a transformative approach, a non-dual perspective (understading of the oneness of people and land) and a systemic approach (considering all levels of the system). Bottom up and top down. They are also creating a Center to apply GNH.


Tho Ha Vinh and Julia Kim on Gross National Happiness (GNH) in Bhutan, at the Presencing Global Forum 2012 in Berlin...

Via Ferananda, ddrrnt
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