Motor City Team Fights Back Against Urban Decay Using The Way to Happiness

Motor City Team Fights Back Against Urban Decay Using The Way to Happiness


Once celebrated for its automotive industry and its musical legacy, Detroit, Michigan is one of America’s most troubled metropolises today.  Soaring unemployment, crime and drug trafficking drove away 25% of the population in the past decade, leaving behind tens of thousands of abandoned businesses, buildings, and homes. In 2013, Detroit became the first major U.S. city to declare bankruptcy. But Detroit residents are fighting back against the daunting scenario of urban decay in this hotbed of crime and are determined to infuse new life into their city.

Inspired by how The Way to Happiness contributed to lowering crime in other cities, resident Monika Biddle is looking to do the same in Detroit. She established a connection with ARISE Detroit!, which is a coalition of some 400 community groups sharing programs and resources to promote volunteerism and community activism. From there, she reached out to Mack Alive, an east-side Detroit community development group led by former Michigan State Representative, Artina Tinsley Hardman. With the Mack Avenue district featuring two of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Detroit (an area with 26% unemployment and with 35% of its residents living below the poverty line), the challenge was daunting.

When introduced to The Way to Happiness, Hardman immediately saw the practical value of the 21 principles in the work of her organization. “All people need a moral compass,” she said as volunteers distributed thousands of booklets in the district. Hardman added, “I find that no matter how we use it—in a senior citizen center or one of our ‘take it to the streets’ events—someone will pick up that booklet, call us and ask, ‘Where can I get more?’ People want to share The Way to Happiness with their friends and family, and that builds our community.” The Way to Happiness Detroit team repeated the pattern on Detroit’s west side, where the Sisterhood Foundation in Brightmoor launched the program in housing projects. In north Detroit, a faith-based support group for victims of violence also adopted it. Ultimately, more than 40 interfaith, community safety and service organizations placed 40,000 copies of the booklet and films in the hands of Detroit citizens.  The neighborhoods that received the booklets observed a 25% decrease in violent crime and property crime.  When top city officials—City Council members, the Chief of Police and Detroit’s Mayor—received copies of the booklet, the Mayor responded: “This initiative is a vital factor in reviving our city spirit and pride and building a bright new Detroit where all can flourish and prosper.”

Mack Alive and other Detroit community groups created their own custom covers for The Way to Happiness that were distributed in their areas.

Former Michigan State Representative and current “Mack Alive” head Artina Tinsley Hardman (second from right): “No matter how we use it…someone will pick up The Way to Happiness, call us and ask, ‘Where can I get more?’

112 Million Booklets
112 Languages

Haitian Creole With French, it is one of Haiti’s two official languages, spoken by 12 million people.

Maori Along with English, it is a New Zealand official language spoken by 23.7% (160,000) of the Maori population.

Tetum With Portuguese, it is an official language of Timor-Leste, spoken by 85% of the 1.1 million people.

Crime Drops with The Way To Happiness

Police report crime rates drop in communities saturated with The Way to Happiness:

Plettenberg Bay, South Africa: After distribution with police of The Way to Happiness in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa, shoplifting fell 63%, attempted business break-ins 67% and aggravated robbery 100%.

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico: On the “world’s most dangerous city” list, it dropped from No. 1 to No. 37 after distribution of The Way to Happiness, with homicides in 2013 at their lowest since 2008.

Vice Minister for Higher Education Heads The Way to Happiness

While the Dominican Republic is the most popular destination in the Caribbean, it is plagued by rampant social strife. Over the past two decades, the murder rate has increased by 25% and the country has become the largest narcotics base in the Caribbean. The public education system (the worst in the Caribbean and Central America, with nearly 50% of children dropping out of school) is leading to a high unemployment rate (15%). Child labor and youth prostitution are rampant. Roberto Naya, a Miami resident and Caribbean native, saw in The Way to Happiness the solution to the moral decay that defines the rise in crime and violence in the Dominican Republic and launched a grass-roots campaign of lectures and training. One seminar for 20 teachers at the educational center of Santa Domingo’s Zoo led to lectures to thousands
of students every month.

Some 200 requests for The Way to Happiness curriculum and films followed from teachers of the students visiting the zoo on field trips, spreading the program to schools across the country. Naya next introduced the materials to government officials, which led him to the office of Vice Minister of Higher Education for the Dominican Republic, Enid Gil. She immediately recognized the efficacy of The Way to Happiness and, with Naya, activated an implementation plan across the nation’s academic community. A university professor herself, Gil became fully trained and certified to deliver The Way to Happiness program and did so in the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, the nation’s largest university. This resulted in dozens of student teachers volunteering as facilitators for lectures to hundreds of teachers, student guidance counselors, Ministry of Education district officials, and the 150 directors of public and private schools in the Moca District.

The General Director of Community Services personally presented The Way to Happiness book-on-film and curriculum to all in attendance. With 1,000 individuals trained, seminars were delivered to more schools, universities, law colleges, foundations supported by the spouses of Supreme Court justices and inmates of Najayo Prison. One inmate took 50 others through all 20 parts of the curriculum. Naya, Gil, and the team presented The Way to Happiness book-on-film to every Senator; 1,700 DVDs to the National Welfare Department for each of their field representatives; and 4,000 to the Ministry of Education for all school guidance counselors in the nation. Television and radio appearances carried the message still further.


The Way to Happiness Foundation International works to reverse the moral decay of society by restoring trust and honesty through widespread distribution of the 21 precepts. Donations support the production and distribution of The Way to Happiness booklet and curriculum material.


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The profound impact of The Way to Happiness is evidenced by change for the better in the lives of individuals that, in turn, pervades whole communities and societies, as in these examples.

High school principal, Michigan: “We have decreased violence in the school by 80% over the school year. We have also decreased disrespectful attitudes toward teachers and vulgar language.  Kids are now more apt to sit down, calm down, think about what they do and set a good example. It is a 100% improvement.”

Executive training officer, California: “We frequently refer our employees to the book to help them work out personal problems. Frankly, this book is a contributing factor to our success.”

Teacher, Quito, Ecuador: “This program offers the reward of helping my students become better and improve their lives. While before the lecture they are pretty hostile, insolent and bored, 99% of the time they end up very happy, willing, grateful and with a new desire to live with their fellows.”

Inmate, New York State prison: “When I first started this course, I didn’t feel it would get to the layers of my problems and everyday drama or situations I was dealing with, but that quickly changed. It didn’t just peel back the layers inside of me, but it helped me shed the mask I was so tired of wearing each day. I look at my life and people much differently. My survival as well as others’ is important… I now make better decisions and act from the understanding I have gained from doing this course. I definitely recommend that others get on board to a new start.”

Education official, Palestinian Authority: “One million copies of The Way to Happiness were distributed in Palestine and Israel. It is making a big difference. It can play the role of rehabilitating both peoples.”