Happy and Inclusive: Planning for Joy and Healing

Planners and public-health workers share a need to protect community health, safety, and welfare. Planners’ efforts are incomplete without appreciating the connections among place, well-being, and equity. This is a significant shortcoming; rising rates of depression, anxiety, and stress that pre-dated the pandemic worsened during months of isolation and social, political, and economic unease.

Although everyone has been affected to some extent, the pandemic highlighted deep-rooted disparities in underserved and disenfranchised communities that carry the added burdens of generational trauma. By treating equity as a central component of community well-being (and vice versa), planners create spaces that foster reflection, healing, and joy.

By envisioning the “happy city,” they apply insights from the science of well-being to build happier, more inclusive communities. By looking through a lens of equity and well-being, they reimagine the profession’s future—Now Hiring: The Department of Fun, Health, and Happiness! The happy city is an inclusive city. Planners must recognize the deep emotional impacts of places or risk perpetuating past mistakes. As protectors of public health, safety, and welfare, they can harness the power of place to boost happiness and inclusion.

Learning Outcomes

  • Explore community well-being through an equity lens and in relation to planning and urban design.
  • Employ design and planning interventions to create places that support all dimensions of well-being.
  • Measure and prioritize planning efforts with the potential to improve well-being and boost community health, happiness, and inclusivity.

The NPC Peer Reviewers assigned this presentation a learning level of Intermediate. For more on learning level descriptions visit our General Information Page.