Richard Conlin owes this woman two hours of sunshine.
  • Kelly O
  • Cricket cricket.
The sun took center stage yesterday. Flowers flowered and birds cackled as most Seattleites sat outside, basking in one of the first warm evenings of spring. I heard the muted, joyous laughter of pedestrians in a conference room at City Hall where I sat with three unhappy strangers and listened to a two-hour panel of “experts” lecture rows of empty chairs on happiness.

As part of a “Happiness Initiative,” Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin had summoned a New York group called Make It Happy to come to Seattle and explore the topic with the hopes of “integrating happiness into public planning,” as he explained.

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  • Kelly O
Here was their methodology: “The last four days we were out on the streets asking, ‘What makes people happy?’” explained Laura Musikanski of Seattle’s own Happiness Initiative, which was tasked with surveying Seattle’s happiness levels in 2011 (spoiler: poor, stressed people are less happy). Behind the panelists sat a wall of post-it notes with the answers to that question, including sex, fish, power, free parking, corn, and sun. “Some of the strongest areas were in environment and… the importance of community,” she said.

“A lot of people said water—they love the rain,” added Mario Chamorro of Make It Happy. “People in Seattle are waterproof!”

We are also apparently bullshit proof. As the event wrapped up, panelists invited us to discuss what makes us happy on camera. Instead, there was a four-way stampede for the door as we rushed out to catch our pleasure in the last lingering rays of sun, a strong drink, or the fantasy of masturbating in a bathtub filled with Richard Conlin’s tears.

More photos from Kelly O after the jump.

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  • Kelly O
  • The happiness panel.

Conlin and Musikanski sharing a joke  as they suck away my youth through a giant crazy straw.
  • Kelly O
  • Conlin and Musikanski sharing a joke as they suck away my youth through a giant crazy straw.

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  • Kelly O
  • Conlin owes this woman two hours of sunshine.

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  • Kelly O
  • Or a beautiful man.

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  • Kelly O
  • Or, at the very least, a free sample.

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  • Kelly O

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  • Kelly O

TK TK TK
  • Kelly O
  • I'm so sorry for making you attend this event with me, Kelly.