The New England Complex Systems institute developed a way to determine the emotion and mood of a tweet based on evaluating words, phrases, and emoticons. They layered this onto a map of NYC using the geotag of the tweets. Using their map, it becomes clear that peoples mood is lower in ugly areas and spaces (i.e., Penn Station, Port Authority, The Holland Tunnel, Hudson Yards, etc) and higher in beautiful spaces (ie. Grand Central, The Williamsburg Bridge, The Highline, etc). Measuring public sentiment can be insightful for researchers, as well as policymakers.
In our book, S&W: Beauty, we’ve explored in depth how the transformation of aesthetically neglected spaces into beautiful ones can change mood, behaviors, lower crime, and even heal sick people faster. Here are a few examples:
Hospitals with newly renovated wings filled with beautiful art tracked the recovery rates of patients. They found that patients with the same illnesses in the newer wings on average need much less medication and heal much faster than in older, neglected wings.
Artists in Mexico turn low-income neighborhood into a giant mural. The result was increased money flowing into local businesses, and lower crime. We’ve seen similar programs in cities such as Buenos Aires, Seoul, Bogota & Rio.
Not a single crime has been committed on the Highline in NYC since its renovation in 2009. Previously, the area had been more dangerous. We walk it regularly, and have never seen anyone leave any trash on it. Beauty can transform behavior.
In studies of happiness, beauty lowers anxiety, increases our mood. When researching people and what contributes most to happiness, the beauty of the city they live in ranks high, even more than the cleanliness of the city.
The transformation of unused & neglected spaces into beautiful ones can often be done affordably. Often with a few thousand dollars of paint, lights, or other creative innovations. Above are some examples of how we could transform neglected places. We're aiming to partner with cities, building owners, and artists to do this with our Beauty Project in various cities around the world. If you’re interested in helping or partnering with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.