“Consider this—one hundred cities are responsible for most of the economic, cultural, and innovative activity in the world. And that will only grow in the years ahead. The cities that invest in infrastructure that supports the inventive human spirit will succeed. The cities that don’t will unquestionably fade.”


– An excerpt from The Joy Experiments

Buy your copy today
Buy your copy today

Welcome to The Joy Experiments – a discussion about city building for the human spirit.

Many of today’s biggest challenges are being pushed down to cities to solve; ranging from affordable housing
in an increasingly have vs. have not society, the negative effects of isolation and social divide due to social
media, the economic impact of the retail bricks and mortar crisis and sustainability as it relates to just about

For many mid-sized cities, this is a moment of opportunity or retreat. Grabbing the opportunity will require
moving beyond business-as-usual problem solving processes and relying on the conventional infrastructure of
engineering functionality and efficiency. The hole we are in is too deep for that.

The Joy Experiments suggests we think of cites first and foremost as the habitat of the human spirit - that
source of inclusion, resilience and so much of what society is in dire need of today. The book makes the case
for prioritizing Infrastructure for The Human Spirit; the things that turn densely populated urban spaces into
joyful and creatively collaborative environments in which tolerance and invention rule the day.

The book concludes with an audacious vision: Joy is a practical city building objective.

The Joy Experiments offers an honest dialogue for politicians, citizens, architects, city planners and business
leaders to come together and create a model for building communities that reflects the needs of our souls
and the future.

Enjoy a Sample Read
  • “For most people, especially the young, their city is not a process they can engage in, it just ‘is.’ They can’t conceive of it as a designed environment that is the intentional product of our imagination that they might play a role in determining. The process and the outcomes are most often aligned against the living world. But The Joy Experiments suggest a different perspective with a different outcome. The book engages in new ways of thinking about designing cities and a future that might have a plausible relationship with the rest of life and the next generation.”

    Bruce Mau

    CEO & Co-Founder at Massive Change Network

  • “In the Joy Experiments writer, visual artist and business leader Paul Kalbfleisch, and enlightened developer and city builder Scott Higgins invite us into their intimate extended conversation about how to make urban places that are welcoming, sustainable and inclusive but most of all joyful. It features their hometown Cambridge, Ontario which also serves a stand-in for the remarkable capacity of mid-sized cities to tap the power of community. Touching on all the things we sense intuitively in language which is clear, jargon-free and persuasive and enlivened by Sarah Farquhar’s evocative illustrations, it is a delightful instructive read.”

    Ken Greenberg

    Principal at Greenberg Consultants Inc.

  • “There is a popular phrase ‘The whole world pivots’ which can be interpreted as – when one big change happens it can cascade throughout the rest of life. That is certainly true of our times. On the streets, life and living have changed…forever. Disruption now rules the game. This disruption is profoundly affecting the structure and very purpose of mid-sized cities as societal norms are being reset and the role of mid-sized cities is re-imagined as the spawning ground for innovation, creativity, prosperity and a wonderful place to Play, Work and Live.

    The Joy Experiments gives us insight into what might be possible at this pivotal moment in city building by laying out a compelling case that human joy should be seen as a practical objective for cities. The book takes a hard look at the current challenges to “community” yet paints an optimistic path forward.

    The Joy Experiments invites us all to find the courage to shake off our planning conventions, parochial shackles and reconsider what cities give us and what we give cities.”

    Roger Farwell
    Architect, WalterFedy

  • “As city builders, much of our attention goes to the obvious aspects of urban planning and infrastructure – where will people reside and work? How will they travel about? How does it all function? How will we pay for it all? But by limiting our focus to the hard practicalities of building, we forget that ‘living’ is a generative and emotional experience.

    This engaging book challenges us to embrace the idea that curiosity, beauty and joy are legitimate and desired goals of modern city building. The authors encourage us to position these emotions as key outcomes and in doing so, illustrate that they are foundational in helping us build communities that foster physical and mental health, attract needed talent, and encourage inclusion.

    They also position housing accessibility as a key element of a healthy community – one in which everyone has a safe and decent place to call home. As part of Canada’s affordable housing sector, I know that access to housing is getting harder and harder every day, for so many people. Breaking this pattern of inaccessibility will require a creative perspective to building more housing and public spaces that are welcoming to all citizens.”

    Karen Coviello
    VP of Affiliate Success