Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Update on Happiness Community Conversations

Happiness Community Conversations Lead to Happiness Actions

Happiness Community Conversation at Murphy-Wilmot Library, October 18, 2013, Pat Griesel, Community Renaissance facilitator, Anita Fonte assisting.  Photo taken by Mark Grushka.


At the four hosting branches of the Pima County Public Library, small groups are meeting at the ninety minute Happiness Community Conversations.  At these conversations, they discuss the UA Happiness Lectures topics and dig deeper into how to transform the ideas from the happiness lectures into personal and community happiness actions.  Some participants have attended the downtown lectures but most have not.  Participants come for each of the five sessions or for the one or two topics that interest him/her.  Offering the conversations at the familiar library branches during the daytime hours creates a choice for participants who may not be able or willing to drive at night.

Each conversation is unique because of who attends and the selection of interactive activities provided by the facilitators from Community Renaissance.  For example, one activity is to define key terms of the lecture topic by writing a few words on a multi-colored sticky note which is put on a larger display board.  Next, these comments are collected by the facilitator.  Another activity a conversation on Compassion involved “bearing witness” to the suffering of another by contemplating a photo of suffering, focusing one’s breath on the photo’s image, and sending feelings of compassion to the image.  One participant remarked that she observed herself changing her reaction to photo as her breathing relaxed. 

Each conversation includes a “take away” happiness tool that encourages participants to consider making a commitment to complete for a week.  In one group this involves picking three cards from a happiness deck of cards and selecting one she or he will do the next week.  Returnees from the first session to the second session shared that they experienced a happier week by sticking to their happiness action and even going beyond that initial commitment by applying another action they heard someone else in the group offer to do. 

At the beginning of 2014, Community Renaissance will produce a summary of the groups’ activity responses and the responses from an 11 question Happiness survey that each participant completes at the first Happiness Community Conversation she or he attends.  This survey asks the same questions as developed in the 2013 World Happiness Report.  Also, the 2014 report will include results from the “snap surveys” that started in June, 2013 as part of the Talk UP^ Tucson events.  This survey has participants rate the 4 Pillars of Gross National Happiness and is cited in the Talk UP^ Tucson… book by Anita C. Fonte.  A free read-only copy of the book is available upon request to Anita.  

Community Renaissance facilitators are volunteering their time for the conversations and Talk UP^ events, including materials preparation, cost, and follow-up as part of Community Renaissance’s pro bono program, The Partnership for Equity and Civic Engagement, or PĒCE.  For more information contact Anita C. Fonte at and 



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