Perhaps in 2000, many readers thought that Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone was overly dramatic, describing his observed loss of sense of community and warning of the consequences of that loss. However, those warnings now appear precient, 17 years later, as we mourn the division currently wracking the world and work harder than ever to bridge widening gaps in beliefs, policies, identities.
Community psychologists, and those practicing community psychology, have always emphasized the importance sense of community has on development, well-being, mutual support/recovery, and other dimensions of health. There is no other time in human history when people have more ability to connect to others, and yet the General Social Survey and other research continues to see declines in people behaving in connected ways like spending time with neighbors. Our latest issue looks at the different ways sense of community continues to be a keystone to community well-being (or the lack of it).
First, Badali, Grande, and Kassabian look at how community affects refugees resettling in Canada. They note that peer support helps build sense of community for those who have been displaced from their native communities by violence, assisting in their resettlement.
Next, Ojeda and Gonzalez describe how art therapy in a community in Mexico may be used to build sense of community as a way to reconnect with their families and the others in their neighborhood.
The third article by Julian walks through the importance of leadership in fostering effective community collaboration and problem-solving. The relationship between collaboration and sense of community (both between collaborators and within the community the collaborative has been established to assist) weaves thematically through this exploration.
Finally, Suarez, Turnbull, Lomnitz, and Polanco explore the varied interpretations of community and family support for mothers surviving in a marginalized section of Mexico City, Mexico. The dynamic is complicated and the consequences of exclusion are difficult.
In addition to the fantastic articles here, we bring you more thoughts and stories from the field in our sidebars, so be sure to look there for inspiration and thought-provoking programs.
The power of and need for a sense of community in a number of ecological contexts (from the family unit to our national and global politics) is stronger than ever. We hope you find something to take with you in these articles, and, as always, we invite you to let us know what you think here on the site, on Facebook, or wherever you feel most comfortable.
Thanks for reading and take care,
Editor, Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice
Community Engagement Institute
Wichita State University
Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. In Culture and politics (pp. 223-234). Palgrave Macmillan US.
General Social Survey: http://gss.norc.org/
As the executive director of the Community Engagement Institute, Scott oversees all activities and services, budget, and operations. Scott has been with CEI for nearly 20 years. He is committed to creating thriving and supportive communities and organizations and has background in community leadership, organizational capacity building, and applied research and evaluation methods. He works with a variety of nonprofit organizations, community coalitions, government entities, mental health consumer organizations, and self-help support groups.