Happy City is a unique book about how many people have moved to the city out of the country. Our countryside has changed fundamentally over the past twenty to thirty years. There are more empty barns even here in Ontario than ever before. People are no longer working the land and growing their own produce. They prefer to buy their produce in a store and to work in large urban centers.
This change in geography has had a real impact on us as individuals too. Our lives have become more hurried and stressful. No longer is it okay just to lay low. Even our Sabbath has been eroded by constant shopping and going. This is wrecking havoc with our heath and overall well-being.
And our cities are very wealthy–the most wealthy they have every been. Never before have our cities had so much land, energy, and resources. Never before has the act of inhabiting a city demanded converting so much primordial muck into atmosphere-warming gas. Never before has so many people enjoyed the luxury of private domesticity and mobility. Despite all that we have invested in this dispersed city, it has failed to maximize health and happiness. Instead, it seems to be inherently dangerous. It makes us fatter, sicker, and more likely to die young. It makes life more expensive than it has to be. It steals our time. It makes it harder to connect with family, friends and neighbours. It makes our vulnerable to the economic shocks and rising energy prices inevitable in the future. So, as a system, it has begun to endanger both our health of the planet and our well-being.
Our challenge is to build lives that are healthy in this quagmire of activity, pollution and stress. We have to build better lives in the city in order to be more healthy. But can we do this? Have we come too far?
This book is very thought provoking and will force the reader to rethink how she lives and what she considers to be important.
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth