For many, a beautiful part of the holiday season is that it brings a greater sense of community. We gather as friends, family, colleagues and neighbors to celebrate connections and enjoy each other’s company, experiences that are well-documented to contribute to health and well-being. Connection does not just benefit us personally – it is essential for a healthy community. Social cohesion—trust, inclusion, and “cooperation among a society’s members to achieve shared well-being”— is foundational to community resilience. This allows us, as a community, to come together to meet our uncertain future in a positive, supported and prepared way.
For some, however, the holidays can be difficult by sharpening deep loss, loneliness, and lack. In a community, holidays often highlight hidden realities that undermine social cohesion, such as wide income inequality. Blaine County is ranked 27th in the nation in income disparity — 20% of our population seeks the services of The Hunger Coalition, and many people struggle to find affordable housing.
In 1859, Charles Darwin “argued that cohesive communities were resilient communities, and resilient communities were those deemed most sustainable.” During times of divisiveness and adversity, we must find ways to recover and thrive, for ourselves and future generations. Building resilience is an essential element to that quest.
Let’s leverage this time of year, when our generosity and desire to give back heightens, when we reflect on the year behind and look forward to the year(s) ahead, to create opportunities to deepen our sense of belonging and connection.
Please join us in giving time to treasure our community nonprofits highlighted in the Giving Guide, or reach out to someone who may be in need of company or food, shelter or clothing, and may your holidays bring to you a closer sense of community and shared joy.
Happy Holidays from the Sun Valley Institute