Barnes Design & Development Management
Collaborating to Create Communities of Lasting Value

Thoughts & Lessons Learned

How to Create a Happy Community

We are all searching for Happiness. Tara Pope-Parker in her article in the New York Times, “How to be Happy” writes about the factors that are needed to make a community a place where people are happy.  Over 43,000 people in 26 communities were interviewed by the Knight Foundation and Gallup and the top three factors are:

  1. Openness:  People are happy when they in a community that is welcoming to all.
  2. Beauty:  Living in a scenic, picturesque or charming community, with lots of trees and green space, makes people happier.
  3. Social Opportunities:  When a community is designed to foster social connections -- restaurant, community spaces, sidewalks, trails and other public spaces – people are happier.

So, if you want to create a community that will foster happiness:

  • Don’t gate the community
  • Don’t segregate housing by size or price point
  • The overall design of the community matters, a great deal
  • Focus on designing and crafting a quality public realm with attractive tree-lined streets and well designed and placed parks and greens
  • Allow for the integration a variety of uses – retail, office, services, entertainment, cultural, civic, educational recreational and residential
  • The “software” aspects of a community (programs, events, customs, rituals, etc.) are as important as the “hardware” components of a community (streets, parks, buildings, etc.)

This isn’t rocket science, it just takes a great deal of thought and care.