What Does Belonging Mean

There is a crisis of loneliness going on in the developed world. For example, in Canada and the USA, reports show that as many of 50% of the population experiences loneliness. Loneliness leads to all kinds of other problems including mental, physical and social problems.

The opposite of loneliness is belonging. But what is belonging?

Research over several decades (e.g. MacMillan & Chavis, 1986 and see an updated version at https://www.drdavidmcmillan.com/sense-of-community/sense-of-community) has concluded there are elements needed to build a “sense of community”: Membership, Influence, Satisfaction of needs, and emotional connection.

But we are not academics in a theoretical world. We are real people living amongst other people. So we asked people, what does it mean to belong.

The answers we got were Trust, Friendly, Caring and Mutual Support.

In our everyday world, we have to feel safe (Trust and Friendly), we have to feel connected (Mutual Caring) and we have to get something out of the relationship ( Mutual … Read the rest

Good News for 2024

Hope is alive in 2024. No doubt, we are facing many challenges. But when people collectively put their mind to things, amazing things can happen. Bringing people collectively together starts with our neighbours.

The Great News is that in Canada, USA and England, most people want stronger relations with their neighbours. And when Neighbours are connected across their differences, our societies become gentler, kinder and happier places.

So here is our BHAG ( the polite way of saying this is our Big Audacious Goal): By January 2029, Canada will have a new culture where it is normal for neighbours to know each other, care about each other and support each other. And more than that, the USA and England will also normalize the same kind of culture of caring for their neighbours.

Out of this culture, we can choose governments that put being human above all else, we will insist business operate in environmentally and socially responsible ways and we … Read the rest

Neighbours Need Help Connecting

75% of Canadians (Stats Canada) 60% of Americans do not know their neighbours , but most people want to know their neighbours. So why don’t they?

The short answer is because of a long term trend that comes out of stranger danger, a constant message that we are supposed to be self-reliant and government policies and lawyer threats that discourage people taking responsibility for each other, we have come to see connecting with neighbours as somewhere between awkward and terrifying. All of this has been exasperated by Covid isolation policies.

If you don’t know your neighbours, particularly the newer neighbours, you are in the majority. If you would want to have stronger connections with your neighbours, you are in the majority. And if you don’t know how to make those connections in a way that feels safe and comfortable, you are in the majority.

Yet making stronger connections with your neighbours is the best thing you can do for a … Read the rest

5 Reasons Why Neighbours are Important

There is tons of research that says that knowing your neighbours is the best thing you can do for a better life. Here are just 5 reasons why know your neighbours is a good thing.

We live longer

Knowing your neighbours reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, depression and anxiety. It prevents death from chronic diseases

We are Healthier

Our health is directly related to social connectedness with people who live close by. We Improve your ability to recover from stress, anxiety, and depression,  We have healthier eating, physical activity, and weight, We improve sleep, well-being, and quality of life, We reduce your risk of violent and suicidal behaviors.

We are Safer

We feel safer when we know who we can trust and who we can not trust. The best way to know, is to get to know the people who live near you. And once you do, you can look out for each other, notice when something … Read the rest

A Close Call Averted

In early June of 2023, over 200 Nova Scotian homes burnt to the ground. In one of these home was a couple taking care of the older parent with Alzheimers. The fire was raging toward their house and they struggled to get their uncooperative father out. In desperation, they fled the house while  calling 911.

The emergency measures people arrived fifteen minutes later. They got Alzheimer father out of the house and into their truck just in time to see the house go up in flames.

Luckily, no one was hurt and the young couple did everything they could. But it was close – real close.

What would of this story been like if the neighbourhood had been connected with the Good Neighbour App? Besides calling 911, they put out a notice saying we need help getting Dad out of the house? Would a good neighbour have been there to help and things wouldn’t have been so close to a … Read the rest

A Tale of Two Community Neighbourhoods

In downtown Toronto, on a quiet residential street, the wife of an elderly couple passed away. The street residents did what often happens and brought over casseroles and well wishes soon after they became aware. The gentleman’s house was filled with coming and going of relatives and neighbours. But what made this street special is the residents realized the hardest times are after everybody goes home again.

The street came together and chatted about what they could/should do. They decided to have regular ‘look-ins’ and invites for the new widow. Now some six months later, the widower is rebuilding his social life and adjusting to a new way of living grateful for the support he has received.

On a suburban street in Moncton New Brunswick, my good friend noticed a moving van in front of a house about 8 doors down. My friend, being the curious fellow he is, checked out what was going on. It turns out that the … Read the rest

7 reasons social media isn’t the best to get to know your neighbours

Social media has become a ubiquitous part of our lives, connecting us with friends, family, and even strangers around the world. It’s undeniably a powerful tool for staying in touch and fostering virtual communities. However, when it comes to getting to know your neighbours, is social media really the best way to go about it?

Let’s take a friendly stroll together through the virtual neighborhood as we explore “Reasons Social Media Isn’t a Good Way to Get to Know Your Neighbors.” While social media has its perks, we’ll uncover the potential pitfalls and limitations it presents when trying to build those meaningful connections with neighbours. They can become more than just people who live near us: they can become our friends or even chosen family.

 #1 Lack of privacy and control over who sees your conversation.

One of the major concerns with using social media groups for neighbourhood communication is the potential lack of privacy. Many people are wary … Read the rest

What is the best app for neighbourhood communication?

Apps can be helpful for bringing neighbours together

Have you ever wondered what is the best app for strengthening neighbourhood community? Neighbours can provide us with a sense of community belonging, social connectedness and the security that others nearby care about us. It is also beneficial to our health! Thing is, this is only true if we know our neighbours. Which we know can be hard to do. Even awkward!

Luckily, we have a few specialized options when it comes to communicating with our neighbours via our smart phones. In this article, we will talk about the pros and cons of the best apps for neighbourhood communications. We will cover everything from price, to ease of use, to how respectful they are of your privacy.

Can we have real connections on social media?

Neighbours can provide us with a sense of community belonging, social connectedness and the security that others nearby care about us. This is only true if … Read the rest

When did talking to our neighbours become a social faux pas?

Recently we launched the Good Neighbour App. It is an anti-social-media social app that uses a little bit of technology to get people to talk to each other face-to-face. It’s been a fascinating social experiment.

When we explain that you can’t connect with people online with the Good Neighbour App, they are confused. How can you have a social app that doesn’t connect with people on line. When we show them that you connect with people face-to-face and that the messaging also connects people face-to-face, their instant reaction is “I love it” I love that it gets people talking to each other and it is so simple to use without any unwanted noise of scam, complainers or advertising. They love it and download it.

But then something really interesting happens.

To use the app, they have to talk to someone and share their app on their phone face-to-face. And their reaction is that is awkward. They say “I don’t feel … Read the rest

Would You Rather Be Safe or Starving

Well intended laws aren’t always helpful

Recently, I was asked to speak at the Changemakers conference in Las Angeles. While there I met Daniele Dilberto from South Africa. After exiting from a 30 year career as a successful restaurateur, Daniele wondered how he could complete his life with greater purpose. He built on his food skills to start Ladle of Love. In 5 years, he served 35million meals to the disadvantaged near Johannesburg.

How did he accomplish this amazing feat? 35 million meals in 5 years is huge.

It was simple. He set up a distribution system and then asked the good people of Johannesburg if they would make some sandwiches. And 35 million sandwiches later, there are a lot of people who did not go hungry.

But here in North America, we have laws and regulations that say we would rather have people rummage through garbage dumps. To give a sandwich away in North America, it has to be … Read the rest