Who needs ‘community’?
The short answer is we all do. As people have understood across generations and geography, we need each other, particularly when times are tough.
Today sees the release of “Closing the Distance Between Us”, a major new report that Happy City has contributed to commissioned by Eden Project Communities ‘Big Lunch’ team. It explores why it matters that more than 50% of the UK population feel distant or very distant from their neighbours, and nearly a fifth of us have no one living nearby who we could call on if we needed help.
This gap between us and our local community grows every year. Rapid urban expansion, the degeneration of public spaces and services, growing inequality between communities, more mobile populations, the rise of ‘individual’ technologies including TV, internet and social media and the ‘in/out’ divisions stoked by the Brexit debate, have all contributed to perceived barriers rising up between us and our neighbours.
And it’s costing us dear. If Happy City’s mission is to make what matters count, few things matter more than our connection to others. The ‘community layer’ of our social bonds play an absolutely vital role in our resilience – mental, emotional, physical, economic and social. If we cease to value it, we will lose it entirely, and the consequences for us and for future generations will be stark.
The report released today is more than an exploration of the causes and costs of this ‘distance’ or the barriers to closing it. It is a call to action, to individuals and organisations the length and breadth of the UK, to work together to ‘close the gap’.
Happy City’s range of new measures of progress can help ‘shift the dial’ towards valuing the conditions for communities to thrive, and to understand when and how those conditions are being met. If we ‘treasure what we measure’, let’s start to measure the strength of our community connections and start to close the distance that is fast opening up between us.
Photo credit: The Big Lunch