Out of the difficulties of the Great Depression and World War II came the idea of Gross Domestic Product as an indicator of how well countries perform. However, the Great Recession has made it clear that this index doesn’t always translate into wellbeing. Similar to Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness, which is being contemplated by China and Japan, an Urban Happiness Index would tie satisfaction and wellbeing to the form of the built environment. Perhaps an alternative idea would be the Healthy Place Index.
We’ve blogged about this idea extensively on PlaceShakers’ Urban Happiness Series, looking at how the form of our neighborhoods contribute to our health and wellbeing. Scott Bernstein and Hazel Borys team up on this webinar to provide a review of studies associating happiness with urbanism. This session is geared toward a comprehensive analysis of work to date. Watch for a future session of proposed methods for bringing this analysis into a meaningful index for North America.
Scott Bernstein, President of Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), works to disclose the economic value of resource use in communities, and crafts local value capture strategies. He studied at Northwestern University, served on the research staff of its Center for Urban Affairs, taught at UCLA, and was a founding Board member at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Center. He was appointed by President Clinton to the President’s Council on Sustainable Development where he chaired its task forces on Sustainable Communities and Climate Strategies, and now works with governors, mayors and metropolitan organizations across the U.S. to build resilient places. CNT is the principle author of the Housing + Transportation Affordability Index and the National TOD Database, and is currently developing new measures of economic well-being under the rubric of Redefining Economic Progress.
Hazel Borys, Managing Principal of PlaceMakers, LLC, is an electrical engineer with an MBA. She is the organizer of the SmartCode Workshop and PlaceMaking@Work Webinar Education Series, board member of the Transect Codes Council, coauthor of the Codes Study, and a PlaceShakers blogger. She guides governments through development bylaw reforms to allow walkable, mixed-use, compact, sustainable places to develop by right. And helps developers build livable neighborhoods.