David Byrne’s Website “Reasons to Be Cheerful”, A Compendium of news, an Antidote and a Cross-platform Project –
When I was developing this website, insperatus.org, I read that the great musician and artist David Byrne was launching a website about “positive things that are happening”1. It was in March 2018 in an article in The Guardian2, and it was great to know that a well-known Creative in the World has a project in this area and this “Reasons to Be Cheerful” Website is an excellent source for everyone to consult and learn about examples that are happening in the world and that can cheer us up.
He wants to “collate stories of positive change from around the world – not grand schemes but small, pragmatic innovations that work” 2. Things that make sense and that can give us hope about human affairs. “Despite what is happening there are still people willing to find different ways to live together and that is encouraging”3.
Reasons to Be Cheerful is a compendium of news, “an antidote and a cross-platform project – Some elements may appear on social media, some on a website and some might manifest as a recording or performance.” And continuing with what David Byrne says about the project on the Website:
“What is Reasons To Be Cheerful
I imagine, like a lot of you who look back over the past year, it seems like the world is going to Hell. I wake up in the morning, look at the paper, and go, “Oh no!” Often I’m depressed for half the day. It doesn’t matter how you voted on Brexit, the French elections or the U.S. election—many of us, of all persuasions and party affiliations, feel remarkably similar.
As a kind of remedy and possibly as a kind of therapy, I started collecting good news that reminded me, “Hey, there’s actually some positive stuff going on!” Almost all of these initiatives are local. They come from cities or small regions who have taken it upon themselves to try something that might offer a better alternative than what exits. Hope is often local. Change begins in communities.”
“These bits of good news tend to fall into a few categories: Education, Health, Civic Engagement, Science/Tech, Urban/Transportation, Energy, Culture. (…) Why do I do this? Why take the time? Therapy, I guess. Though once in awhile I meet someone who has the connections and skills but might not be aware of some of these initiatives and innovations, so I can pass the information on. I sense that not all of this is widely known.”
This David Byrne’s project is then an online observatory, a sharing of cases that have achieved positive things to improve the world. And what kind of positive things did David Byrne find? He is already beginning to identify certain qualities among the stories that have caught his eye, for example, that most of the good stuff is local, are bottom up, community and individually driven. He also thinks that, although many examples come from all over the world, despite the geographical and cultural distances, in many cases others can adopt these ideas. “These initiatives can be utilized by cultures other than where they originated”.
The stories compiled so far in “Reasons to Be Cheerful” fall into the different categories mentioned above. In Urban/ Transport category, for example, he tells us cases that deal with the global influence that infrastructure and sharing systems can have on Bicycle transportation in large cities, such as the bike-share system Velib in Paris and the bicycle lane in Bogota Ciclovia.4
You can see the cases on David Byrne’s Website and sometimes we’ll cover some of these cases here at insperatus.org. We’ll approach those cases that have to do with unexpected and original situations that are happening in the realm of human affairs and that can help everyone to be creative in the world! We want to facilitate and inspire the presentation and discussion about situations that can create a different common world, with many senses, many layers of meanings and a better future,
Filipe Novais, Porto, Europe.
Image: David Byrne portraits, La Moutique, 2016 (detail) ©Catalina Kulczar & Juan Miguel Marin, a Brooklyn-based creative duo. New York, US.
2. The Guardian newspaper, “David Byrne: ‘I’m able to talk in a social group now”, by Dorian Lynskey, 4 Mar 2018. London.
3. Jornal Público, “David Byrne: Somos apenas turistas nesta vida mas a vista não é má”, por Vitor Belanciano, 20 Abril 2018. Porto.
4. Bicycle transportation cases: