Institutions normally support people with training, infrastructure, resources, assets and the motivation to work collectively and collaboratively for their own good. However, there are other collaborative opportunities which start from a desire to do something valuable for the wider society, or from a passion or interest, which may exist outside these formal institutions and during different phases of people’s lives.

The main aim of this project was to facilitate the development of a sustainable collective in which people come together to share skills and potential assets for a common cause that could help Scotland to flourish.

Happiness as a topic to enable Scotland to flourish

The Scottish Government have 5 strategic objectives:

  1. To enable the Scottish people to become wealthier and to share the distribution of wealth fairly;
  2. To help the people become healthier by promoting healthy habits and ensuring effective access to health care;
  3. To help people feel safer and stronger in their communities;
  4. To help widen educational opportunities;
  5. To promote a greener mindset by improving the built environment and promoting the sustainable use of it.

These five objectives show that the government is very focused on improving the Scottish people’s conditions, however, they aimed to achieve these objectives specifically through economic growth.

Like many other countries, it is very likely that Scotland measures progress based on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But GDP doesn’t have metrics for life satisfaction levels or the experienced happiness levels. So the government can’t really evaluate if is creating the conditions to successfully and sustainably generate healthy and happy lives for its citizens.

Considering all these objectives the government is doing a great job generating good conditions for the wellbeing of their citizens, but none of them is specifically focused in helping the Scottish people become happier.

This is where we found the opportunity, as an analysis highlighted that ‘Happiness’ is the seed that could enable Scotland to flourish and trigger the achievement of all the other government objectives.

So, what is happiness?

Many researchers and philosophers have created a definition for ‘happiness’, and all of them are different. ‘Happiness’ it is a feeling and a very broad concept.

Happiness is the state of wellbeing characterised by emotion ranging from contentment to intense joy.

Sonia Lyubomirsky , positive psychology researcher

Happiness is the experience of joy, contentment or positive wellbeing combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile.


Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.

After analyzing the various definitions the conclusion is that happiness it is a joyful experience that would be experienced in specific moments combined with the sense of having a life that is satisfying and worthwhile.

Field Work

A first set of field research was planned in order to identify the levels of ‘happiness’ of local people around Glasgow and how they perceive happiness in their local areas. To help in the field work was created an engagement tool with a scale to measure the level of happiness and questions for what factors will make people happier.

The majority of the locals marked their level of happiness between “fine” and “very happy”. Witch indicate that the majority of the locals had positive attitudes towards their own life. We also where able to cluster the meaning of happiness in four main themes: time & work, family & friends, money and pleasure.

A new concept for creative collectives

Community Model

How to put the community model into practice

After all the research process we were able to create a general collective model that will be our guideline for the concept creation.

The collective model consists on: a motivation - the need to solve a problem; a self-fulfillment of a wish; a business. A initiator group - leaders; passionate people; experts in a specific field. And a group of enriched people that could have a need or a wish to accomplish. These two groups will exchange skills, time and work by using their assets to achieving their own collective goals and contributing to the benefit of the wider society.

The collective could also have an external input - an expert; an additional motivation from an external entity - to help improve the way the exchange is done. Lastly the model should have a sustainability scheme that coordinates the work and guarantees the use of resources for the long term existence.

Three main concept activities were generated to be taken forward to then be prototyped and tested:

  1. Cultural collective - the promotion of fun cultural activities that can include singing, dancing and various other social activities shared within a community.
  2. Cleaning and uplifting team - involves the work of residents in improving their neighbourhood through community action
  3. Community parties - involves bringing a community together to have fun enjoying some food and music in their outdoor communal areas.

The final concepts were intended to be combined and used as the basis for the plan of activities with the chosen community.

The help of the Willowbank Community

To help us testing our concept, we contact the neighborhood community of Willowbank street, located in the west side of Glasgow.

This neighborhood has identified several problems in their communal area, such as consisting of issues with waste, postponed community demolition projects, lack of community engagement and lack of participation from most residents.

The Willowbank community garden, located in the centre of this area, was the perfect opportunity for a gathering point, that would kick start further community action. This way, we planned a kick off party with the Willowbank community, called ‘DIY Your Community’, with the aim of planning and implementation of a set of activities in their community garden.

This event involved an early Saturday morning setup, to get curious residents out of their flats for some breakfast, and encouraging their participation in some planned activities on a sunny day. The success of this event was achieved through the range of participants who took part, providing various insights into what could help make people happier in this neighborhood.

At the end of the D.I.Y. your community event, very useful insights were gathered:

  1. The community need a common motivation and a common place to meet in order to get to know each other better, talk and interact so that later on naturally build a social support network.
  2. People inside the community have the willpower to help solve their common issues, but there are no mechanisms to bring together the people who want to help.
  3. There should be a strong attraction to bring people who initially were not very motivated to join with other neighbors and work to solve a specific issue.
  4. People like to live in a nice, clean and friendly environment that will increase their levels of wellbeing and ‘happiness’.


Toolkit: D.I.Y your community+

This is the beginning of a fun journey to help neighbors get to know each other and work together to build a nicer and happier place to live. This is a toolkit that will help people living in the same community to bring people together around common assets and issues and turn them into opportunities to have fun and socialize.

Instructions of each step are contained in these tools. As part of the strategy, people can download the digital package of the toolkit from the local councils website and print them out at home or pick a hard copy from the local councils office.

The objectives of the toolkit are:

  1. Increase the level of interaction between neighbors to trigger socialization and mutual help.
  2. Promote the common use of assets and skills within the community.
  3. Promote activities to dissolve the misunderstandings between neighbors and give mechanisms to agree on solving issues.
  4. Generate the conditions for socialization, sharing, and having fun within the community.
  5. Provide guidelines and ideas to help residents of the community to develop events that could help them solve issues, improve common assets or build strong bonds between neighbors.
  6. Promote actions and interactions that could improve the level of ‘happiness’ and wellbeing of the community.

Building Community+ head team

Duich is the initiator of change in his community, but he cannot do all the work alone. The tools for building the Community+ Head Team will help him to find people that like him wants to promote neighborliness and collective work in his community.

All he has to do is to choose the recruiting method that better suits him and get to work! By talking to his neighborhood and using the first step of the tool, the head team has been built to start the activity to improving their own community.

Issues Identifier

As part of the head team Duich starts to identify the issues in the neighborhood with other residents. Step 2 of this toolkit provides a template to help the residents identify the common issues and lead people to find a solution for the various identified issues.

What is your role?

After identifying the issues, the head team starts to evaluate their assets and skills to confirm the types of roles that best suits the residents involved in the community+ head team.

There are four types of example roles that provide the main skills and attributes needed to help tackle a range of community issues through action. However, as a guide these can then be customized to suit various types of tasks the community is aiming to achieve in their local neighborhood. Through the use of this tool, people can more easily identify their roles in the community and start thinking about how they can help contribute to change in their neighborhood.

Plan the event

Having identified their roles, the head team can start to discuss what kind of activity they want to do. This time, they want to tackle the environmental issues in their communal area. By using the tool, they choose the “Let’s go to work” event and begin preparing the material and equipment they need to support the event. They begin to spread the flyers and posters in the area to tell people in the community that they will have a clean up party soon where they can discuss how to improve their own community in the not so distant future and have fun at the same time.

Sustain your community+

As people start to get to know each other and they can create connections using social media such as Facebook and build a group for their community to receive up to date information from each other. They can post their activities and DIY party event photo on Facebook and Instagram to document and retain a snapshot as a memory of their work. This action can also help challenge other communities to follow similar action and spread the work being achieved. A hashtag can be a great way of spreading the work with Community+ processes in various neighbourhoods using different social media platforms. They can use social media to discuss the next activity, organise further meetings if a regular monthly meet is not sustainable.


The D.I.Y. your Community event help us discover that:

Communities may need ideas to develop activities that could encourage neighbors to come together and work with each other to help them solve some of their local issues. And the ideas had to be attractive enough to get as many people as possible involved, and ‘FUN’ should be included in all the activities planned.

Therefore, this project will be a set of tools and guidelines to help communities to better organize themselves, work together and have fun, while improving their environment and make their neighborhood a happier place to live.

With this conclusion we were able to improve the Community Model concept, in order to find the key scenarios where the tools are needed, and design an holistic set that could enable any community to implement it.

Being the main aim of The Community+ Collective to bring the neighbors of a community together to use fun activities as a tool to work around common assets and issues to generate a nicer and happier place to live.


The ‘Community+ Toolkit’ was an outcome of the process followed during the activities with the Willowbank community. This process also comes as a reflection upon the key findings from both desk & field research into ‘Happiness’, as the tangible generation of conditions for ‘happiness’ to occur was the main focus of research into this topic.

The social innovation of this project was shown when bringing neighbors closer together and helping them to identify how they can create change in their community in order to make it a happier place to live in.

The ‘Community+ Toolkit’ as it stands is an initial iteration of a prototype that should be considered as an approach for helping a neighborhoods community group achieve what Willowbank community has started to do.

‘Happiness’ as a topic for social innovation has highlighted how positive change and shifting perspective can provide increased benefit on various levels of society and with a contagious effect it can spread to help a country flourish towards a better future.