Centre for Thriving Places (formerly known as Happy City) helps put wellbeing economics into practice
Centre for Thriving Places was founded in 2010, with the aim to change the economic compass from pointing to consumption and growth toward wellbeing for people, place and planet. We bring this vision to life through place-based strategic consulting, training and our evidence-based measurement tools the Thriving Places Index and Happiness Pulse. We work with local authorities, organisations and individuals to provide practical pathways to measure, understand and improve wellbeing.
Our values guide our work – how we deliver and how our clients and partners experience their work with us.
Be courageous and visionary
- We are committed to creating deep-rooted change
- We challenge ourselves and the system
- We name root causes and unspoken assumptions
Be rigourous and practical
- We are thorough and detailed
- We take responsibility to creating the best outcomes
- We are pragmatic and solution focused
Be champions of people and systems
- We help create the conditions for people to thrive
- We act ‘with not on’ involving and enabling others
- We recognise the interdependence of people and systems
Be positive and generous
- We are curious and open to new ideas and possibilities
- We are energetic and future-focused
- We create space for active inquiry, learning and reflection
2020: New name, same focus
In 2020 we changed our name from Happy City to Centre for Thriving Places. Although this represents an exciting new phase in the organisation’s development, it doesn’t mean we’ve moved away from our focus on putting wellbeing economics into practice. Read about our choice to rename here.
Founded in 2010 by Liz and Mike Zeidler, Happy City was set up to challenge the belief that economic growth is the only measure of success in society. Their aim was to put wellbeing at the heart of public discourse on what it means to truly prosper.
With an initial focus on their home city of Bristol, we launched a ‘public inquiry into what works’ as an alternative to the conventional problems-focused approach and came up with ‘a radically simple plan to grow happiness one city at a time’. We were soon joined by growing numbers of volunteers and supporters to help people ‘live more, share more, and enjoy life, for less’.
Projects, campaigns, workshops and events were run in communities across Bristol and beyond – sparking new conversations about what really matters to people. Thousands were engaged in thinking and acting on ways to improve their own, and their community’s, wellbeing. Art, music, media, film and performance were used to provoke conversation and connection.
We also developed a range of training programmes, delivered in schools, prisons, businesses, community centres and public buildings to help people of every background find their way to wellbeing.
Beginning to measure
It was clear from the start that if a model was ever going to challenge the existing paradigm that put measures of economic growth and consumption at the heart of decision making, alternative measures were required. Whilst there was growing interest and development going on around this at an international and national scale almost nothing was available at the local level where people experience wellbeing (or a lack of it) most.
We began working with everyone from global experts to local change-makers, to translate the best of that theoretical and academic work into tool that would be useful to individuals, groups and local policy-makers – new measures to rival existing, GDP based, definitions of value and progress. In 2016, after many years of development work and piloting, we officially launched our suit of measurement tools. And in 2017 we launched our national #InvestIn campaign to reach and challenge tens of thousands of individuals to think about what society should be investing in.
2020: Centre for Thriving Places
After ten years as Happy City we’re excited to be starting our second decade with a new name: Centre for Thriving Places. Since we started our reach and influence have shifted in ways which mean we have outgrown our original name. Centre for Thriving Places will continue to build on Happy City’s reputation for a place-based approach to wellbeing economics. We will:
- Continue to develop and deliver leading-edge tools to help measure the conditions for people and places to thrive and the social impact of work on the ground.
- Co-produce rigorous and accessible research and resources to help decision makers and communities across all sectors better understand their role in building an economy and society fit for the challenges of the 21st century.
- Bring together multi disciplinary teams to support pioneering places to embed a new way of thinking and doing across departments, sectors and social divides.
- Provide a space for leaders and communities to come together and share learning, best practice and innovations from wherever they are emerging.
- Continue to challenge those in power and empower those who are marginalised, to move to a more equitable and sustainable economic model starting today.