The Happy City Blog

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 city.

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. John's.

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 meaningful way.

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

The movement continues - stay tuned.

Written by Dave Lane at 07:08

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