Ashoka Switzerland is proud to announce the election of our newest Fellow, Dan Acher, founder and director of Happy City Lab. Throughout the selection process, Dan consistently proved his dedication to improving the way people live together in urban environments. His undertaking is to instill systemic change in shared urban spaces both in Switzerland and around the world. Ashoka sees the importance of this mission, and will actively support Dan with Happy City Lab’s continued development and outreach.
Through participative projects and installations, Dan has spent the last 20 years creating opportunities for people to meet and connect. In the increasingly impersonal environment of today's growing cities, Dan’s public space interventions strengthen the sense of belonging, building trust and empowering citizens. With projects such as Neighbourhood Exchange Boxes and Touch ‘n’ Dance, he creates situations where people naturally take responsibility for the outcome of the experience - engaging in the wellbeing of the community and turning them into active citizens.
His ongoing lab approach has led to lost pianos in city outskirts, giant switches on street corners bringing buildings to life and the Northern Lights materializing in urban skies. Happy City Lab projects have had a powerful impact on the communities involved and are widely supported by city governments.
“I believe that by creating the right situations we can transform the way we engage with each other. We need to create more opportunities for people in cities to meet, to be together and to share. To be good to one another and have fun together. Because when all this happens, we get to know each other better and trust each other more.”
To Dan, joining the Ashoka family means exchanging and collaborating with likeminded people. Through Ashoka and its support network, he’s looking to efficiently grow current and future projects, and to explore new approaches to spreading ideas - such as the use of creative commons licenses.