What if our crisis of disconnection was something each of us could play a part in solving?
What if those things we could do were bafflingly simple? Like... checking in on a friend, hanging out at a cafe, hosting a dinner party?
I published the State of Belonging 2023 report to answer those questions and many more.
It's also now available in print and Kindle on Amazon here.
I priced it to be super accessible to as many people as possible, but if cost is an issue, please reach out to me.
Daring to be optimistic
I see so much negativity in the news and social spaces I inhabit online: despair, apathy, rage. The extent of our society's collective disconnection can feel daunting at times, and the year ahead promises endless new depressing distractions that threaten to only worsen the issue.
But I can't shake this notion that something can be done about it.
Not by waiting for policy changes or for a heroic leader, but by taking action.
The State of Belonging 2023 identifies actions all of us can take—whether as community leaders, government officials, technology builders, or just ordinary individual citizens.
To get to these actions, I researched dozens of studies, articles, books, social posts, and more—across academic, business, government, and personal sources.
I distill what I found into the first chapters, outlining the nature of loneliness and disconnection, the causes contributing to it, and the consequences.
I then focus on what's being done. There are, fortunately, a lot of good people working on really interesting projects, many of which you can get involved with online and in your local neighborhood.
Did you know...
- There's a national Good Neighbor Day coming up on September 26th?
- There's a fellowship program run by the League of Creative Interventionalists that organizes local programs and offers free downloadable PDFs of activities you can lead in your city?
- Or that the Library of Congress maintains an American Folklife Center that documents local traditions across the country?
- Or that there's a United States Senator who's currently lobbying to pass a National Strategy for Social Connection Act?
I didn't, until I did the research for this report.
I was amazed at how much I found—and how much I didn't know about. I've been eyeball deep in community for 15 years and I've been missing out on so much.
That's part of the challenge, and the opportunity.
We can make huge headway just by being more aware of what's already going on and what can easily be done. This report gives you that.
Ultimately, I wanted to come away with a roadmap for myself—so I could see where I can apply my effort to achieve the greatest impact possible.
I hope this will act as a roadmap for you as well.
What the report covers
- The nature of the issue - Recent large-scale surveys by institutions like Cigna and AARP definitively indicate that loneliness has reached epidemic levels in America. The report examines multiple studies elucidating the clear links between chronic loneliness and substantially worse mental and physical health outcomes, even leading to a significantly higher mortality risk comparable to other high-risk factors like smoking and obesity.
- People disproportionately impacted - A thorough analysis reveals certain populations bear a disproportionate burden when it comes to loneliness and social isolation. While no group is immune, individuals facing systemic marginalization and adversity are most affected, including LGBTQ+ people, people of color, younger adults, remote workers lacking watercooler connections, and mothers overwhelmed with caretaking duties.
- Forces driving disconnection - The addictive nature of digital media and social platforms preying on our attention, the religion of "workism" prioritizing jobs over community, excessive individualism weakening our social bonds, declining participation in religious/civic organizations removing traditional sources of meaning and fellowship, and a lack of vibrant public gathering spaces or "third places" in many neighborhoods.
- Examples of helpful projects - Fortunately, while the problem is complex, there are many encouraging signs of progress. The report highlights numerous innovative initiatives cultivating belonging through pioneering public spaces, community focused apps, intimate performance gatherings, conversation workshops, compassionate listening movements, and more.
- Conclusions - My key observations based on all of the above
- Recommendations - Actions you can take as an individual, an organizer, a space manager, a technologist, a researcher, and as a policymaker.
This is for you if..
...you want to understand the nature of the loneliness epidemic.
...you want to learn about the causes and consequences of systemic disconnection.
...you want to be inspired by the ways people are creating bonds in new ways.
...you want to be part of the solution.
...you want to feel more connected to yourself and the world around you.
...you want to feel more connected to your neighbors and your city.
...you want to bring people together.
...you want to build better communities.
Get the report
Download the full report via the button below to immerse yourself in these topics more completely. Please reach out with any reflections or ideas you may have about building a future of belongfulness. The exploration in this report is just the beginning.
Want it in print or Kindle? Get it on Amazon here.