Happiness Takes Center Stage in The Redford Center’s Newest Clean Transportation Short Film

This Minnesota Community Is Connecting Mental And Planetary Health To Transform Clean Transportation

Aug 17, 2022

Today, The Redford Center released the final film in a five-part series showcasing unity and community power in a collective call for civic engagement around clean transportation to build a healthier, more just future for all.

Community Power Minnesota: Transportation and Happiness, directed by Sebastian Schnabel and produced by Cici Yixuan Wu, places a public health lens on the topic of transportation featuring research by Dr. Yingling Fan, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a research scholar at its Center for Transportation Studies, at the center of the story. 

Through data and testimonials collected by Minneapolis—St. Paul residents, viewers are prompted to consider the physical and mental effects of their own daily commutes and the greater potential that exists to prioritize community and personal health and happiness. Translating this data into a “Transportation and Happiness Map,” Dr. Fan, with the support of local leaders, wants this research to serve as the groundwork in placing human emotion at the center of transportation planning, leading to safer, healthier, and more accessible transportation and infrastructure design for the rest of the country to follow. 

As part of The Redford Center’s ongoing civic engagement initiatives, the 2021-22 Community Power short film series, in collaboration with the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and Chispa, spotlights stories that shift perceptions on what it means to be an environmentalist and a voter. Community Power films speak to the heart of addressing centuries of environmental inequities – all during a critical moment when historic policy investments in clean transportation, jobs, and justice are being made. 

“Data has power. Dr. Fan’s game-changing work reflects the wellbeing of individuals in the mix of transportation and infrastructure planning,” said Jill Tidman, Executive Director of The Redford Center. “This means issues of safety, access, health, and happiness can be prioritized and inform decision-making on an essential part of life–how we move through our communities every day– and reminds us of what’s possible when cities and towns learn from, and design with, their residents.”

“Transportation is an unavoidable emotional landscape in everyday life. In any urban area, significant portions of land area are devoted to streets, parking, public transit, bicycle lanes, and sidewalks,” said Dr. Yingling Fan. “ If transportation systems are designed to narrowly focus on efficiency—getting people from point A to point B faster and easier, cities miss out on critical opportunities for fostering human flourishing. Moreover, it is also about creating equitable, inclusive, and empathic urban spaces. When a city’s built environment evokes positive and shared human experiences, we will have a more compassionate society.”

About the Community Power Series

The Redford Center’s Community Power series showcases local activists, storytellers, and culture-makers as the visionary leaders needed to build the movement towards a future rooted in environmental justice.​ The series highlights how investing in clean energy, and specifically, clean transportation, provides the opportunity to cut harmful air pollution threatening our health and livelihoods, supports people and communities who are too often left behind, and creates millions of jobs that modernize our transportation and energy infrastructure. 

The Community Power series spotlights local, clean transportation stories from states across the U.S. Each film invites the public to become civically active on issues of clean energy, justice, and jobs through a free clean transportation action toolkit, connecting audiences to nonprofit and movement organizations. The Redford Center’s Community Power series is generously supported by Far Star Action Fund. 

About the Film

Community Power Minnesota: Transportation and Happiness

A film by The Redford Center
Directed by Sebastian Schnabel, Produced by Cici Yixuan Wu
Run time – 03:50 minutes

When you think of your daily commute, what feelings come to mind? Would “happiness” be at the top of your list? Dr. Yingling Fan, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a research scholar at its Center for Transportation Studies wants to transform the way we experience transportation. With the help of Minneapolis—St. Paul residents, Dr. Fan has developed an innovative “Transportation Happiness Map” that captures the positive emotions tied to biking, reliable public transportation, safe and scenic paths, and avoiding traffic behind the wheel. Local community leaders and public officials see this data as the groundwork for clean transportation and infrastructure development that prioritizes the health of people and our planet. Watch as Dr. Fan and local leaders activate their community power to bring innovative solutions to our climate and public health crises.

Community Power Minnesota: Transportation and Happiness can be viewed at

Click here to view all films in the seriesCommunity Power Arizona: En Nuestrxs Manos (In Our Hands)directed by Pita Juarez; Community Power Nevada: Unidxs En Acción (United In Action), directed by Nicolas Cadena; Community Power Indiana: Beyond the Line, directed by Sam Mirapoorian; and Community Power New Jersey: Our Streets, directed by Adam Nawrot.

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Cait Fitzwater, The Redford Center 

Co-founded in 2005 by Robert Redford and his son James Redford, The Redford Center advances environmental solutions through the power of stories that move. As an independent nonprofit organization, we work with filmmakers, activists, and organizations to connect movements, amplify frontline voices, ignite discourse, change policy, drive innovation, and encourage environmental and media literacy. 

Over the years, The Redford Center has produced three award-winning feature documentaries and more than 40 short films, supported more than 100 film and media projects with grants and other services, inspired the creation of more than 550 student films, and dispersed more than $10 million to fiscally sponsored projects. We’ve engaged millions of viewers across all 50 states and 45 countries. Redford Center films and impact campaigns have halted the construction of dirty coal plants, restored the Colorado River Delta, reconnected people to nature, and helped accelerate the clean energy revolution and clean transportation solutions in communities across America.