Community

Sense of belonging

Epidemics of mental illness are spreading around the world at an alarming rate. What’s behind this trend, and more importantly, what can be done to reverse it? Because mental health depends on connection to other people and the natural world – connections that the globalized economic system systematically severs – a shift toward localized, ecological economies of connection and care is a systemic path towards psychological healing.

Sense of belonging Actions
Create a neighborhood group to address the climate crisis locally.
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Create a neighborhood group to address the climate crisis locally.

While international coordination and regulation are necessary for lowering global greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the climate crisis, local action is also a vital and often-overlooked counterpart. Connect with your neighbors and build place-based climate-friendly solutions from the ground up with these resources.

Take action

  • Gather with your neighbors and explore ways to reduce carbon emissions and water use, increase disaster resiliency, and create a more empowering and livable community together, following the Empowerment Institute's 4-month Cool Block program, and/or Transition US's Community Resilience and Disaster Preparedness Guide.
  • Explore energy efficiency, waste, water, transportation, and local food solutions with your neighbors using the Transition Streets Handbook and resource page Set up a Transition Streets project in your area, adapted for the US and based on work by Transition Town Totnes in the UK. The handbook guides groups through seven meetings to collectively transition away from fossil fuels and towards resilient communities.

Get inspired

  • Neal Gorenflo, executive director of Shareable, chronicles his Cool Block experience as part of his article series A Year of Living Locally, now published as a free e-book.
  • Transition Streets' Streets-wise stories page shares stories of successful Transition Streets initiatives from around the UK.

Create a neighborhood group to address the climate crisis locally.

While international coordination and regulation are necessary for lowering global greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the climate crisis, local action is also a vital and often-overlooked counterpart. Connect with your neighbors and build place-based climate-friendly solutions from the ground up with these resources.

Take action

  • Gather with your neighbors and explore ways to reduce carbon emissions and water use, increase disaster resiliency, and create a more empowering and livable community together, following the Empowerment Institute's 4-month Cool Block program, and/or Transition US's Community Resilience and Disaster Preparedness Guide.
  • Explore energy efficiency, waste, water, transportation, and local food solutions with your neighbors using the Transition Streets Handbook and resource page Set up a Transition Streets project in your area, adapted for the US and based on work by Transition Town Totnes in the UK. The handbook guides groups through seven meetings to collectively transition away from fossil fuels and towards resilient communities.

Get inspired

  • Neal Gorenflo, executive director of Shareable, chronicles his Cool Block experience as part of his article series A Year of Living Locally, now published as a free e-book.
  • Transition Streets' Streets-wise stories page shares stories of successful Transition Streets initiatives from around the UK.
Create a community coworking space.
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Create a community coworking space.

Modern workplaces often cut us off from each other and the outside world in the name of "efficiency" and "productivity." Coworking spaces break down many of those barriers, while providing affordable shared spaces for small local businesses. But like many aspects of the sharing economy, this idea has been co-opted by multinational companies that try to cash in on remote work trends. The resources below are about people at the grassroots coming together to design and share mutually beneficial spaces.

Take action

  • The Hoffice Movement, started in Sweden, helped people arrange gatherings to work, network, eat, socialize, exercise and more – simply by establishing group offices in members’ living rooms and kitchens. At its peak, there were more than 2000 groups worldwide.
  • For those who need more space, the article Is Your Community Ready for Coworking? from Shareable offers stories and advice for building community coworking spaces outside of the home. 

Get inspired

  • The Edventure Hub in Frome, UK is an excellent example of a shared workspace and community center. It was started by young adults in the Edventure Frome community enterprise program. 
  • The Totnes REconomy Project in the UK set up a coworking space, the Totnes REconomy Centre, to create a place for new economic relationships to grow.

Create a community coworking space.

Modern workplaces often cut us off from each other and the outside world in the name of "efficiency" and "productivity." Coworking spaces break down many of those barriers, while providing affordable shared spaces for small local businesses. But like many aspects of the sharing economy, this idea has been co-opted by multinational companies that try to cash in on remote work trends. The resources below are about people at the grassroots coming together to design and share mutually beneficial spaces.

Take action

  • The Hoffice Movement, started in Sweden, helped people arrange gatherings to work, network, eat, socialize, exercise and more – simply by establishing group offices in members’ living rooms and kitchens. At its peak, there were more than 2000 groups worldwide.
  • For those who need more space, the article Is Your Community Ready for Coworking? from Shareable offers stories and advice for building community coworking spaces outside of the home. 

Get inspired

  • The Edventure Hub in Frome, UK is an excellent example of a shared workspace and community center. It was started by young adults in the Edventure Frome community enterprise program. 
  • The Totnes REconomy Project in the UK set up a coworking space, the Totnes REconomy Centre, to create a place for new economic relationships to grow.
Connect with your neighbors and others through meaningful dialogue.
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Connect with your neighbors and others through meaningful dialogue.

Modern life – especially in industrialized settings – can feel alienating, lonely and disconnected, especially during extraordinary times like the COVID-19 pandemic. Meaningful dialogue can help heal isolation as well as bridge divides, creating connection that forms the cornerstone of community and civic engagement.

Take action

Get inspired

  • The New York City public library in the US facilitates and hosts community conversations, creating "a truly democratic space where we can connect together through meaningful dialogue."
  • In How I'm Finding Purpose and Connection in a Pandemic, Aanchal Dhar writes about finding purpose and connection during the COVID-19 pandemic through various facilitated community conversations.

Connect with your neighbors and others through meaningful dialogue.

Modern life – especially in industrialized settings – can feel alienating, lonely and disconnected, especially during extraordinary times like the COVID-19 pandemic. Meaningful dialogue can help heal isolation as well as bridge divides, creating connection that forms the cornerstone of community and civic engagement.

Take action

Get inspired

  • The New York City public library in the US facilitates and hosts community conversations, creating "a truly democratic space where we can connect together through meaningful dialogue."
  • In How I'm Finding Purpose and Connection in a Pandemic, Aanchal Dhar writes about finding purpose and connection during the COVID-19 pandemic through various facilitated community conversations.
Reconnect to end loneliness and build community.
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Reconnect to end loneliness and build community.

Because the global economic system promotes and depends upon competition, individualism, and separation, it has created what is being increasingly recognized as an epidemic of loneliness. In the long run, putting an end to this epidemic will require shifting from a growth- and consumption-obsessed global economic system to a plurality of local, sufficiency-based economies. In the meantime, connecting with others can both relieve the sense of loneliness we feel, while also helping to bring about systemic cultural and economic shifts.

Take action

Get inspired

  • Check out Shareable's e-book Community Solutions to the Loneliness Epidemic, which is brimming with strategies, projects, policies and inspiring examples from around the world showing how building community is the antidote to loneliness.

Reconnect to end loneliness and build community.

Because the global economic system promotes and depends upon competition, individualism, and separation, it has created what is being increasingly recognized as an epidemic of loneliness. In the long run, putting an end to this epidemic will require shifting from a growth- and consumption-obsessed global economic system to a plurality of local, sufficiency-based economies. In the meantime, connecting with others can both relieve the sense of loneliness we feel, while also helping to bring about systemic cultural and economic shifts.

Take action

Get inspired

  • Check out Shareable's e-book Community Solutions to the Loneliness Epidemic, which is brimming with strategies, projects, policies and inspiring examples from around the world showing how building community is the antidote to loneliness.
Address eco-anxiety, despair and grief through reconnection.
Expand Action
Address eco-anxiety, despair and grief through reconnection.

Anxiety, despair and grief about the state of the world – in particular the ecological crisis – are completely sensible, and sensitive, signs of compassion and empathy for our beleaguered planet. Yet, these feelings can also become overwhelming, to the point of inducing burnout, paralysis and withdrawal rather than engagement. Here we share some resources for helping to acknowledge and work through our anxiety and grief by reconnecting and re-engaging.

Take action

Get inspired

  • In Climate Crisis as a Spiritual Path, a 21-minute segment from the film The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism and Community, Joanna Macy draws on the poetry of Rilke to remind us that our eco-grief stems from our profound caring for the world that is "grounded in our interconnectedness with all life."

Address eco-anxiety, despair and grief through reconnection.

Anxiety, despair and grief about the state of the world – in particular the ecological crisis – are completely sensible, and sensitive, signs of compassion and empathy for our beleaguered planet. Yet, these feelings can also become overwhelming, to the point of inducing burnout, paralysis and withdrawal rather than engagement. Here we share some resources for helping to acknowledge and work through our anxiety and grief by reconnecting and re-engaging.

Take action

Get inspired

  • In Climate Crisis as a Spiritual Path, a 21-minute segment from the film The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism and Community, Joanna Macy draws on the poetry of Rilke to remind us that our eco-grief stems from our profound caring for the world that is "grounded in our interconnectedness with all life."
Voices from the field

  • In this conversation with Helena Norberg-Hodge as part of Local Futures' World Localization Day 2021, renowned expert on addiction, stress, and childhood development Gabor Maté explains the profound impacts of social and economic structures on our most intimate experiences of what it means to be human, and points to reconnection and localization as remedies to the most crippling and dehumanizing effects of living in today’s global consumer culture.
  • In this conversation with Helena Norberg-Hodge as part of World Localization Day 2020, author Johann Hari speaks about the rise of depression and anxiety in a fragmented market-driven world, with a focus on both underlying causes and long-term solutions based on the rebuilding of connections.
  • In Breaking the Spell of Loneliness, author George Monbiot and musician Ewan McLennan explore the loneliness epidemic and ways to overcome it.
Policy

  • Part 4 of Shareable's e-book Community Solutions to the Loneliness Epidemic – How governments are coming together to solve social isolation – looks at how policies can increase citizen engagement and thus connection, with successful cases from Japan, Korea, and the UK.
  • Tim Kasser and Malte Klar designed studies to determine whether activism actually increases people's well-being (spoiler alert: it does). Kasser writes about it in the article Making a Difference Makes You Happier.

Resources