Happy City's formation was very much an online phenomenon, and
most of our work takes place on the web. And as we go through yet
another evolution of our web presence, it's interesting to take a
look at where we came from.
In April 2009, a small team of women organized an event entitled
"Urban Sprawl Versus Smart Growth." It was a public meeting in St.
John's that asked citizens to come together to discuss what the
oncoming changes to our economy will mean for the livability of our
The group invited speakers to share with attendees their views
and experiences, and everyone was given a chance to talk and ask
questions. It was a very positive evening, and the organizers have
made a plan to keep the discussion going.
Part of the plan was to share thoughts and opinions that arose
at the meeting, as well as from others who couldn't attend, on a
website that everybody could access. That website's address was
Several months later the same team of organizers grew into a
larger group of concerned citizens who wanted to have a broader
discussion about the growth of our city, this time in the context
of a controversial development in the heritage area of St.
The room was packed with people and the meeting received a lot
of media attention. But there was another story emerging from this
situation - a vibrant discussion was occurring online, in social
media, and people were sharing information and views in a
The developer of the building withdrew its proposal, and many
suspected that this was thanks to the high-profile show of
"outrage." In this meeting's wake was a city divided into two
camps: "pro-development" and "anti-development," neither of which
accurately described the people supposedly in those groups. And a
company had lost some public goodwill.
A few members of the organizing committee saw in the online
discussion a very robust set of views that, if harnessed, could
lead to better planning and deliberation that could help avoid such
flashes of controversy. There was a movement afoot.
The movement needed a name and a place to live, and the most
natural fit was HappyCity.ca.
The movement continues - stay tuned.