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'Happy City' author to speak at Lulu Series

Author Charles Montgomery recounts a story of a condo owner whose life is miserable—until he moves within the same complex.  - Lee Satkowski
Author Charles Montgomery recounts a story of a condo owner whose life is miserable—until he moves within the same complex.
— image credit: Lee Satkowski

Journalist and urbanist Charles Montgomery, whose book examines the intersection of urban design and happiness, will deliver a lecture in Richmond Thursday.

Montgomery's lecture begins at 7 p.m. at Richmond City Hall, as part of the Lulu Series: Art in the City program.

Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design explores whether dense urban living is better or worse for our happiness by taking readers through some of the world's most dynamic cities. Montgomery explains how cities and their designs influence how we feel, behave and treat each other. He draws on scientific research and personal stories, arguing that a happy city is also a green city—and is within reach.

Montgomery, a frequent speaker on urban planning issues, spends most of his time in East Vancouver and Mexico City. His writings on cities, psychology, culture and history have appeared in magazines and journals around the world.

Condo living is among his latest book's topics. Montgomery writes about Rob McDowell, a single man who moves into a small condo with beautiful views. He was happy, but the feeling didn't last.

It was lonely living; people lived close but didn't know each other. He later moved in the same complex to a row of townhouses along the base of the tower. Main doors faced a garden and volleyball court, and he got to know his neighbours. Many became close friends.

"Rather than bumping into any one of three hundred or so strangers each day in the tower elevator, McDowell experienced repeated contact with fewer than two dozen neighbors, making the social world of the garden more manageable, somewhat like a fareej, a domestic enclosure common in the Arab world that is big enough for several extended families," writes Montgomery.

The May 15 talk will be preceded by a performance by M'Girl, an ensemble of aboriginal women who blend percussive-based hand drum songs with contemporary song.

Admission is free. Seats may be reserved by e-mailing lulu@richmond.ca.

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