Interviewsand Articles


Gross National Happiness-- Newsletter #25: and Other Discoveries

by Richard Whittaker, Aug 15, 2012



 Two exciting discoveries take the lead in this issue of our newsletter. When I say “discoveries,” I mean my own discoveries. But the chances are, they’ll be your discoveries, too. Had you heard about a country that values the gross national happiness above the gross national product? There is such a place, and the happiness of its denizens is an explicit goal. In my conversation with Anne Muller we talk about her experiences photographing in Bhutan. She traveled under the guidance of the young Bhutanese man whose PhD thesis at Yale became the model for the GNH idea. The two of them collaborated on a book about Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness.
     Next you will meet a remarkable woman whose passion is the creation of spontaneous community. How? Through singing together. Along the way Melanie DeMore has been an actor, singer-songwriter, forklift driver, nun and head chef. For the last twenty-one years, she has taught music at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Oakland, California where she has an enthusiastic student and parent following. She is a charter member of Kate Munger’s Threshold Choir. She also teaches at UC Berkeley and CIIS in San Francisco. Warning: reading this interview may compel you to get involved in a singing group. And you might want to contact Melanie for suggestions.
     To go along with the music angle there’s Mary Stein’s childhood memory of discovering the music of classical string quartets. Listening to the way the instruments interwove with each other left a deep impression. What she’d heard was a model of how people might work together through conversation and exchange. It just happens that Mary was the guest editor of our previous issue of the newsletter.
    I’ve included an article here that appeared in issue #24 of works & conversations: Transcendental Vision in Sand City. There really is a Sand City. It’s just north of Monterey, California. It covers all of .6 square miles of sand along the coast of Monterey Bay and has roughly 375 residents. It has its own police force, mayor and city council. I could explain more, but it’s all in our article here.
     And finally, we have a conversation with a man who can rightly be called an original. We may all be originals in some sense, but every so often one runs across a person for whom this word seems the best single adjective. It’s not the only word one would want to describe Slobodan Dan Paich: generous, remarkable, versatile, polymath, visionary. In the transcript of this conference call one will meet a rare being, one who speaks with a quiet lyricism born of a most unusual life.
     Welcome. —Richard Whittaker 

About the Author

Richard Whittaker is the founder of works & conversations magazine.


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