Loneliness, leadership, and how buildings can make us happier

A list of articles and resources on issues like social connectedness, public health, and community design.

Please enjoy some of the articles, episodes, reports, resources, and deep dives that have come across our desk.

Strengthening community connections: The future of public health is at the neighbourhood scale

A deep dive from the NCCPH on how public health authorities in Canada can play a role in strengthening community connections for a more healthful population overall. Major health inequities have been brought to light during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic so this research is well-timed and positioned to set our communities up for success in the future.

National Collaborating Centres for Public Health

Four ways to fix Canada’s long-term care system

COVID-19 has put a very sharp point on the inadequacies of our long-term care system. The subject of healthy, safe and dignified housing options is one that hits home for us and why solutions like co-housing, in-come care innovations that support ageing in place and dementia villages are exciting. This thought-provoking article by Sarah Tranum, associate professor of social innovation design in the faculty of design at OCAD University, walks through four promising fixes.  

The Conversation 

Can buildings make us happier? 

At an unlikely intersection of software and social connectedness lies Human Studio’s FLUID Sociability tool. FLUID is a very promising tool for measuring the social potential of different multi-unit housing designs. For more on this concept and to learn about the software, take a listen to the Business of Architecture podcast with Human Studio principal architect Bruce Haden (Hey Neighbour and our Happy Cities team partners got a name drop!).

Business of Architecture

Vancouver’s Indigenous communities are reimagining housing & urban development

Something we’re reading and re-reading right now is a very inspiring piece about how Indigenous communities are reimagining what housing and urban development mean for them: and forming a new model around health, creativity, and culture.

Alison Tedford 

Inside June’s deadly heat dome. And surviving the next one.

2021’s heat dome event in BC was a tragic reminder of why it’s absolutely vital we include climate change and inequity in our conversations around building resilience and social connectedness in multi-unit housing. And why knowing your neighbours is so key in an emergency.

“The BCCDC’s analysis showed that people who were low-income, elderly and socially isolated were at the highest risk of dying, but even just one of those factors increased the risk of death during the heatwave…[…] a common theme throughout the Metro Vancouver area: low-income people living in older, more affordable apartment buildings were hit hardest by the extreme temperatures.

The Tyee

Local sense of belonging, connection split along generational lines during COVID-19, poll suggests

A recent CBC article reported that in surveys from 4,000 Canadians, “half of 18- to 35-year-olds feel they aren’t connected in their local area.” This is galvanizing for the work we do to build connected communities in BC.

CBC British Columbia 

Where words fail: Teach architects and urban designers like violinists

We thought this was an excellent idea! “We need to learn to train architects and designers the way we train musicians. We need them to become virtuosos at an essential skill we cannot fully teach with books and words alone: to create wonderful places that people love.” 


The opposite of isolated: at the park

Back in January, the CBC released a three-part mini docu series called, “The Opposite of Isolated.” Each episode is beautiful and poignant and we particularly enjoyed watching episode three, “At the Park,” where Julian Baisa meets strangers in a local park and listens to their stories. What comes up, again and again, are the concepts of vulnerability and loneliness. It is deeply relatable, particularly as we work to regain our sense of community connections following the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

CBC Vancouver 

Let’s talk loneliness and communities

A must-read via an Australian coalition on loneliness. This article provides an interesting mirror to the work we talk about in our day-to-day at the Collective. Among the highlighted reflections in this piece, mobilizing efforts to create connection and the necessity of leadership and partnerships really resonated with us.

Ending Loneliness Together

Creating the conditions for social well-being

A new report was recently published by Social Health Labs and the Foundation for Social Connection. The report, Creating the Conditions for Social Well-Being,” offers recommendations for reducing and preventing loneliness across sectors.

Social Health Labs and the Foundation for Social Connection

How leaders can build connection in a disconnected workplace

At HNC we normally focus on how loneliness and social isolation show up in housing contexts and urban planning. But this article about loneliness in the workplace is worth absorbing.

Harvard Business Review