Shareable’s executive director, Neal Gorenflo, outlined the problem as did Marvin Brown in his article, “Why we need a change in climate”, and Monée Fields-White shared her perspective in, “Can we build non-sexist and non-racist cities?”
After outlining the challenge, we proposed that community involvement is an accessible, effective solution to loneliness. Then, we offered examples of how communities are coming together all over the world. For example, Japan is connecting youth and seniors and the UK government has created a minister for loneliness. In addition, Libraries of Things bring people together, On the Table hosts shared meals, and the Participatory City Foundation helps people create neighborhood projects.
At this point, you might be wondering where to start to lessen loneliness where you live. The nine articles below offer good starting ideas from hosting a stranger dinner to creating engaging public spaces. While some ideas can be done today, others require a bit more planning. Take a look and let us know what other suggestions you have for building community:
1. How to reinvent the potluck
“Hosting a potluck is a great way to start a neighborhood sharing group. Why a potluck? The potluck is an iconic community gathering experience that symbolically reinforces the idea of sharing, as each guest brings food to share with the group. And anyway, potlucks are fun!”
2. How to host a stranger dinner
“With a little forethought, having a stranger dinner can be a great way to meet some new people, gain some different perspectives, and get people to bring delicious food to your house for free.”
3. How to start a housing co-op
“Co-ops save money by cutting out landlords’ profits, sharing common spaces, lowering operating costs, and receiving public subsidies for affordable housing. Studies show that co-ops provide other benefits, like greater social cohesion and support, reduced crime, increased civic engagement & sustainability, better quality and maintenance of housing, and resident stability.”
4. How to integrate a gift circle into any community
“The Gift Circle, as founded by Alpha Lo and spread by Charles Eisenstein, is a group facilitation format that holds great possibility as a way to match resources with needs, create community and inspire gratitude and generosity. The goals of a Gift Circle are simply to provide a warm, free, and welcoming space for community to gather and share Gifts and Needs, most often while literally sitting in a circle.”
5. How to create engaging public spaces
“The idea behind creating a public space is not just to build a nice-looking addition to a town, but to create a space that people actually use. A plaza with no one in it is just an empty space. Creating a space that successfully engages people is an artform and a science that relies on the input of the community, the testing of ideas, sharp observation and detailed planning.”
6. How to plant a habitat garden at the local level
Jeremy Adam Smith and his “Bees and Butterflies” group “went to the city and asked if [they] could plant a community garden in a strip of dirt available on our neighborhood playground, Noe Courts. To [their] surprise, the city said yes.” This article explains how they created the garden.
7. How to start a neighborhood work group
“Once a month during the warm season, my partner Luan and I report for duty at one of six different neighborhood homes to help build a fence, paint a house, terrace a garden, put in a mosaic path, or what have you—with some eating and chatting thrown in.”
8. How to build a better neighborhood
“Even if we haven’t actually experienced it, most of us have nostalgia for that perfect neighborhood, the one where people know each other, help each other, and hang out together. So what is the one ingredient necessary to create a community vibe on the streets where we actually live? Face-time.”
9. How to start a social street
“There are countless ways strong communities help people lead better lives. In the age of ‘connected loneliness,’ having neighbors to borrow that proverbial cup of sugar from is not only a way to share resources more effectively, but a great way to see the neighbourhood itself transformed into a powerful resource in its own right.”
This article is part of our first quarter social isolation series. Learn more by checking out our Event recap: Exploring community solutions to the loneliness epidemic.
This is the first of four quarterly participatory magazines we’re producing in 2019. Each participatory magazine combines digital editorial with a live event focused on an urgent, sharing related challenge. The goal of each participatory magazine is to catalyze action. Drop us a line if you’d like to get involved or sponsor one or more of our 2019 participatory magazines: firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t do this alone!