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Loneliness, The Value of Trust, Wall to Wall Carpet Wanted

In a world that’s more connected than ever, evidence is showing that people are lonelier. Even to the degree that the United Kingdom has a department and a Minister of Loneliness!! Loneliness is a state of mind, it is a universal human experience and can be rooted in a lot of different causes – here’s a good article about causes and help. 

Responding to this can be difficult, we have resources for when things are in crisis mode, but going to the hospital to let someone know you are lonely is not very fruitful. Combating the states of mind that are uncomfortable and destructive is completely doable. Sometimes we can sit in camps on how this done – it’s up to the individual (save yourself, buck up) or it’s up to society (we need to do something!). Truth is, it is both an individual responsibility AND a collective responsibility.

I came across this fantastic article last week. Please read it and let me know what you get out of it.

Our High River was formed around this idea that we are stronger when we are connected and that people in the community can solve the problems in the community. The founders of this initiative are members of a group called ‘The Social Sustainability Collective’, none of them are toot your own horn types so you may have never heard of this. They are a group of social profits and agencies that tend to the people side of things in High River, they meet every other month to see what they can tackle together, and here is the list of who’s involved:
• Foothills Fetal Alcohol Society
• Wildrose Community Connections
• Foothills Special Needs Association for Parents and Siblings
• Literacy for Life
Now, I want to mention here that we have been showcasing these 4 agencies started by women who saw a need in the community and did something about it. In their 20 years of service (Party in George Lane – August 25- everyone invited) they have helped 1000’s of individuals and families. They have been employers in the community and they have brought us some of our most fun events (Grate Groan Up Spelling Bee, Foothills Comicon, HeArt and Soul and …).
Okay, back to the list for some more awesome:
• Salvation Army
• McBride Career Group
• Foothills Community Immigrant Services
• AHS Primary Care Network
• AHS Rural Addictions and Mental Health
• Town of High River Family and Community Support Services
• Rowan House Women’s Shelter
• High River Library

So why? Why do these groups work together and why do they feel that it is so important to connect everybody in this town? Why would spend the time and effort to create something when they are already terrifically busy? This group has spent hours crafting grant applications and dedicating time to making Our High River, many of these grants have been rejected and so they have had to be both patient and persistent. Why? Because connection to your community matters. As the article says:
“School performance, public health, crime rates, clinical depression, tax compliance, philanthropy, race relations, community development, census returns, teen suicide, economic productivity, even simple human happiness – all are demonstrably affected by how (and whether) we connect with our family and friends and neighbours and co-workers,” he says.I may have already put this in a blog but it bears repeating – Red Cross International Liaison that we all knew as Bon – when I asked him “what makes a difference in how well a community bounces back from disaster?” He said, without a moment’s hesitation “the places where people know their neighbors are the places that do the best”.
As the article above points out:
Trust: “It’s the fabric holding families, neighbourhoods and workplaces together – and it benefits all of us.”
How I see the social fabric in High River right now, also known as social capital, is like a throw rug. There are a lot of threads of the community woven in. The groups that operate in this town are phenomenal.

What I’d like to see us do is to discover and invite the fringe to join in. This does not mean that everyone needs to be at every community café (although that would be super awesome), not everyone has a desire to connect in that way. Rather, it’s an invitation that every citizen in High River has a place where they feel like they belong, where they feel like they contribute to the wellness of the community and where they know that they matter. I want our social fabric to be wall to wall carpet, shag maybe?
As I said, this is both an individual and a collective responsibility. How are you? Are you woven in? I’m guessing you are if you are reading this. Is there anyone that you could invite in, that you could weave in? Over the next few months I will be working on a map of How Connected is High River? If you belong to a community group of any kind please reach out, if you’d like to but you don’t know where to start – reach out.
Once again – the hope is that this will be a community blog – have an idea or want to contribute – all idea’s welcome.

Have a great week! It’s groovy,  It’s Our High River.