Melanie Martinez

Science and Technology Editor

Every year UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) elects one book to be featured under UCSB Reads. For 2023, the Davidson Library has chosen “Happy City” by Charles Montgomery. To commemorate this selection, the library held a zine workshop to identify and understand the themes of “Happy City” and express them through creating a zine. 

For those unfamiliar with zines, a zine is a miniature magazine. The premise is to make your own miniature magazine using scraps from other magazines. Traditionally, zines are made by folding and cutting paper or classic book-binding techniques. Using magazines or newspapers, you can cut out pieces that appeal to you, arrange the scraps, and glue them into the book in whatever way you want. 

Photo courtesy of Melanie Martinez

Montgomery’s book dives deep into urban design and how it coincides with our happiness. The book encourages the readers to observe and analyze their own cities and whether or not their cities make them happy. When most cities are built, the happiness of its residents isn’t taken into consideration, which can be reflected in the well-being of those residents. Montgomery urges planners and developers to understand the research behind happiness and create cities that benefit their residents. 

One of the major ideas that attendees were encouraged to think about when making their zine was what they would imagine a happy city to be like. For many people, that meant many things, including walkable cities, less traffic, and open spaces. A happy city could also mean a more connected community. One question that was asked us, “If you were to drop your wallet, would you trust that someone would return it to you?” From large infrastructure to community development, Montgomery touches upon both big and small pieces of what can create a “happy city.” 

Regardless of whether you had read the book or not, the workshop was open to anyone and was a great way to express your creativity. With many materials supplied, from magazines to colored paper, the attendees were able to create zines that expressed what they thought represented a happy city. There were many examples to help spark an idea on how to make your zine. 

Photo courtesy of Melanie Martinez

When creating my own zine, I went in with an open mind. Rather than constraining my creativity, I gravitated to pieces in the magazines that stood out to me, whether that was a colorful landscape or a photo capturing a crucial moment. The color green was consistent in my zine as well as scraps that indicated an inclusive community. Towards the end, my zine represented a city that could be enjoyed by everyone and could harbor happiness for a new generation of residents.

Photo courtesy of Melanie Martinez

The zine workshop for “Happy City” was a refreshing and calming experience that encouraged us to be creative and think about the development of our cities. It also highlighted the amazing work done by Montgomery through his call for better infrastructure and well-being. Being able to put together a zine could be an outlet for you to embrace your creativity. If you ever have the opportunity to attend another zine workshop for another UCSB Reads book, I highly recommend you to do so. 

Photo courtesy of Melanie Martinez


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