After Julie Combs successfully campaigned for Santa Rosa City Council last year, she discovered that several issues central to her campaign were important to more than just Santa Rosa residents. In fact, several tied in directly with the nine elements that make up the Happiness Index. “Elements of it meshed so well with things that I ran on,” she says, despite learning of the GHI after she took office. It’s so important to her now that she has made it one of her priority issues.
It’s not that she is pushing for citywide implementation of the Happiness Initiative, which is a real thing, by the way. But so many of parts of the initiative can and should be implemented in revolving Santa Rosa’s issues. Take, for instance, the annexation of Roseland. “Looking at happiness,” she says, “[the initiative] makes some sense here.” Particularly the idea of participation in government and inclusion in culture. Roseland residents do not vote in citywide elections and do not have the benefit of city services, even though they live in a non-annexed island of county land that’s far more central to Santa Rosa than, say, Oakmont or Wikiup.
In a June interview on KRCB, Combs says she’s doing her part to implement the happiness initiative by listening to citizen concerns. "I want folks to come in and say what it is that they need to their government,” she says. “People say things like, ‘Well they're just going to do what they're going to do and my input doesn't matter.' That's really sad, and I would like to turn that around so that we have a happier city."
The Happiness Initiative can be implemented in day-to-day life, as well. Just by thanking people, volunteering time or money and even taking a few minutes of quiet time to oneself every once in a while can increase personal happiness. It might even help increase America’s ranking as 105th on the Happy Planet Index.
Combs will participate in a discussion at the Arlene Francis Center following the screening of “The Economics of Happiness,” a documentary about the Gross National Happiness Index used in Bhutan. A dinner of Bhutanese food precludes the screening on Wednesday, Aug. 28 at 6pm. 99 Sixth St., Santa Rosa.