Director's Take

Combatting the Epidemic of Isolation image

Combatting the Epidemic of Isolation


Dear friend of Downtown,

The U.S. Surgeon General released an advisory at the beginning of the month that addressed what is now labeled an epidemic of loneliness and isolation. Admiral Murthy laid out six pillars of a new framework to address it: Strengthen social infrastructure in communities; Increase pro-connection public policies; Improve the role of public health and health care delivery systems; Reform digital environments; Deepen knowledge and data; Urge a culture of connection.

At the core of it all, he identifies social connection as what is essential to humanity – as essential as food, water or shelter. For centuries, we needed each other for mere survival and now that wiring has translated to connection and proximity. And we still need it.

“We are called to build a movement to mend the social fabric of our nation,” he says. It is no surprise, given the numbers of suicide, depression, and anxiety that we see, and I don’t think we can ignore the correlation of gun violence with this breakdown. The lack of ability to communicate or disagree without resorting to guns is literally killing our communities.

Downtowns have always been the place where people come together – from the town square to City Hall. This is where people celebrate, mourn, advocate, and share experiences.

We went home to work out of necessity because of COVID but it was too “easy” to stay home and add in social media, people are now living through technology and not WITH each other. Maybe it’s better for us as individuals that we save time and money by working at home, or that we can “connect” with others through our computer screens and on social media, but is it better for our community or our society? We are losing out on each other and the connections which create the very neighborhoods and communities we need.

Let’s help each other turn this epidemic around. Invite a friend to join you to do something fun. Downtown will continue to serve up opportunities to be together – through events, museums, restaurants, concert venues, etc.

I hope to see you on the streets soon.

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