The first West Coast Gross National Happiness Conference was held May 25 at the Copeland Pavilion, attended by approximately 70 people. Keynote speaker Kinga Tshering spoke about how the idea of measuring success through Gross National Happiness as an alternative to gross domestic product caught fire in his country of Bhutan and has been spreading around the world. Following his talk 25 dancers from the Bhutanese Association of California performed a few of their cultural dances. Oil and watercolor paintings of Bhutan adorned the room, adding to the festivity.
The first panel of the day included Doreen Liberto and Scott Bruce of Earth Design International, who spoke about their trip to Bhutan and what they learned from the people and ministers about the country’s approach to the wellbeing of its citizens. The third panelist was Jeremy Brown, a supervisor on the Trinity County Board of Supervisors, who talked about the challenges facing his community and how he hopes to introduce the concept of gross national happiness there.
The second panel included Kinga Tshering and Julia Oberhoff of Ten Over Studios to talk about implementation of happiness at a business level.
The assembly was welcomed by Aaron Gomez, Councilmember for the City of San Luis Obispo. Eva Fina of The Coastal Awakening, a sponsor of the event, also talked about the work her organization is doing on the Central Coast.
The Bhutanese dancers taught everyone willing to join in a couple of dances, following by lunch and networking. From here Kinga Tshering is traveling to Japan to discuss GNH with the Japanese government. He intends to found a West Coast Institute of Happiness to continue his work.