behavior · community · happiness · health · mental health · psychology · Social

Practice the “Inside Scoop” to Combat Loneliness at Work

I read a fantastic article written by former U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy about the physical and cognitive damage brought on from isolation and loneliness, which many of us suffer, especially at work. We’re so focused on working, and for long hours, we often forget to stop and check in with each other and learn about each other *raises guilty hand*.

loneliness_working_from_home

Murthy discusses this in his article in the Harvard Business Review, “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic.” He shares some statistics and the impact this loneliness has on our individual work productivity and how that effects businesses’ bottom line.

For example:

Rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely, and research suggests that the real number may well be higher. Additionally, the number of people who report having a close confidante in their lives has been declining over the past few decades. In the workplace, many employees — and half of CEOs — report feeling lonely in their roles…

During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness…

Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity…

At work, loneliness reduces task performance, limits creativity, and impairs other aspects of executive function such as reasoning and decision making…

Researchers for Gallup found that having strong social connections at work makes employees more likely to be engaged with their jobs and produce higher-quality work, and less likely to fall sick or be injured…

He also offers a suggestion to combat this: setting up time at work for an “Inside Scoop” session, either as part of the weekly team meeting or other routine meeting.

People were asked to share something about themselves through pictures for five minutes during weekly staff meetings. Presenting was an opportunity for each of us to share more of who we were; listening was an opportunity to recognize our colleagues in the way they wished to be seen.

These sessions quickly became many people’s favorite time of the week, and they were more enthusiastic about participating at staff meetings. People felt more valued by the team after seeing their colleagues’ genuine reactions to their stories. Team members who had traditionally been quiet during discussions began speaking up. Many began taking on tasks outside their traditional roles. They appeared less stressed at work. And most of them told me how much more connected they felt to their colleagues and the mission they served.

This experience rings very true for me on my own team; during our team meetings, one of our senior managers on my team would always make sure there was time in the meeting for everyone to go around the room and share what their weekend plans were. People could say as much or as little as they wanted. But it gave us all a glimpse into their outside lives and helped us all feel closer. We learned about shared interests in music and art, got to hear about personal successes like their cover band scoring a gig or going to a sister’s wedding. We all became closer and would ask each other on the progress of our personal projects, and offer support or gentle teasing if we felt a project wasn’t getting the attention we all thought it deserved, whether it was finishing their degree or sewing a dog bed. It made us all closer and feel more connected.

As the team ebbed and flowed after awhile we stopped doing this practice, and although the change went unnoticed (until now), the change in team dynamics, camaraderie, and effectiveness has shifted.

It would be worth bringing it back.

In an age with more population density and a literally globally connected world thanks to the Internet, we are all experiencing more loneliness. The good news is we also have the power to combat it. It doesn’t have to be formal; as Murthy says:

I share what my office did not as the antidote to loneliness but as proof that small steps can make a difference. And because small actions like this one are vital to improving our health and the health of our economy.

There are other practices that can help combat loneliness too, like offering to help out others, and be willing to accept help when offered. Being proactive is hard, but worth it. And it doesn’t have to be big.

We can start simply by asking how somebody’s weekend was, and actually stopping and being present to listen.

 

architecture · community · creativity · culture · design · environment · play · Social

Today is Park(ing) Day in the U.S.

This year’s Park(ing) day snuck up on me! I am looking forward to checking out the little parklets that pop up around Seattle and see what other cities are up to.

Twister game set up in Seattle Parklet on Parking Day 2016
A Twister game set up in a Seattle parklet from Parking Day 2016. Courtesy SDOT.

From Curbed Seattle (no pun intended):

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… if you’re a fan of tiny, community-generated parks. PARKing day, which allows citizens to transform parking spots into activated spaces, is this Friday, September 15.

Past years have included creative seating, chicken coops, a bowling lane, and a tea party—even a ball pit.

This year, the day features 47 installations throughout the city. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) says different installations include “everything from arts and crafts to bike repair and snacks,” plus the perennial favorite—spots to sit and relax.

Seattle Department of Transportation has put together a map of all 47 locations, from Lake City to South Park. Unsurprisingly, there’s a dense belt around the center of the city in the downtown, Capitol Hill, First Hill, and Central Area region—including at least two bike repair stations.

A screenshot of the interactive Park(ing) Map for Seattle:

parking map seattle

Check out more about Seattle’s Parklets.

children · play

Sidewalk murals to installed to encourage play

More great sidewalk art inspiring play:

Sidewalk murals to encourage creativity in York - The York Daily Record

York County School of Technology student Lisa Nguyen, 15, painted this colorful artscape, “Step Across the Rainbow,” along North Beaver Street in front of Central Market.

The piece is part of the Bring on Play program as part of the Eat Play Breathe York initiative to add interactive play opportunities for children along regular walking routes downtown.

“The goal is to have playful sidewalk artscapes throughout the city, especially in neighborhoods, so we can reach children who might not have the opportunity to go to a park or play on school playground equipment,” Eat Play Breathe York chairwoman Cori Strathmeyer said. “We want to really encourage creativity and socialization as well as the physical aspect.”

The plan is to complete 20 permanent sidewalk murals downtown by the end of summer.

more via Sidewalk murals to encourage creativity in York – The York Daily Record.

behavior · community · health · mental health

Dutch nursing home offers rent-free housing to students

This is a great way to “lure” younger adults to engage with seniors. It’s potentially a bit gimmicky, but the rewards of giving back to your community, and the enrichment of people of both ages, is just phenomenal.

A nursing home in the Netherlands allows university students to live rent-free alongside the elderly residents, as part of a project aimed at warding off the negative effects of aging.

In exchange for small, rent-free apartments, the Humanitas retirement home in Deventer, Netherlands, requires students to spend at least 30 hours per month acting as “good neighbors,” Humanitas head Gea Sijpkes said in an email to PBS NewsHour.

Officials at the nursing home say students do a variety of activities with the older residents, including watching sports, celebrating birthdays and, perhaps most importantly, offer company when seniors fall ill, which helps stave off feelings of disconnectedness.

Both social isolation and loneliness in older men and women are associated with increased mortality, according to a 2012 report by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

“The students bring the outside world in, there is lots of warmth in the contact,” Sijpkes said.

more via Dutch nursing home offers rent-free housing to students.

community · culture · environment · happiness

Seattle Department of Transportation: Seattle Parklet Program & Streatery Pilot Program

Way to go Seattle!

After a successful year-and-a-half long pilot, we’re excited to announce that the Parklet Program is now a permanent program! This means that Seattle businesses and community groups have even more opportunities to enhance our streets with public spaces.

As part of this launch, we’re also rolling out a brand-new approach to activating our streets: the Streateries Pilot Program. What’s a “streatery” you ask? Streateries combine the best features of a parklet and a sidewalk café by allowing a restaurant, café, or bar to use a parking space to create outdoor seating for their customers during business hours (like a café) and for the public during non-business hours (like a parklet).

there is still time to sign up your company if you’re interested via Seattle Department of Transportation: Seattle Parklet Program & Streatery Pilot Program.

I look forward to seeing lots of little Parklets spring up around the city as we start to emerge from the winter wet and dark.

anthropology · behavior · community · culture · environment · happiness · health

Los Angeles has Cancer — Stephen Corwin on Medium

This is a scathing opinion piece looking at the negative influences of space and place, specifically cars and car culture. Corwin argues passionately against the takeover of cars in to the city space and how it is anything BUT enriching. It is full of examples of what NOT to do, and therefore offers suggestions on how to solve it.

Our experiences driving cars in this city are, for the most part, fleeting. We drive somewhere, we get out of the car, we close the door, and we walk away. But to think that we can escape the world that cars have created as easily as we escape the car itself is foolish. In fact, when we leave our cars, we walk into that world. We have to live in that putrid mess.

Let’s talk about how Los Angeles is a city where construction projects can fence off whole blocks, including the sidewalks, without offering people on foot an alternative. Let’s talk about how when that happens, no one even considers converting one of the two car lanes into a temporary sidewalk, because dear god, that might cause slight inconvenience to people in cars. And let’s talk about how ironic it is that inconveniencing people in cars is the end of the world, but doing the same to people on foot is a non-issue. Then let’s talk about how when frustrated walkers decide to use the car lane rather than take the ridiculous detour, the city’s totally acceptable solution to that problem is not to concede space to those people, but rather to bolt permanent, metal signs into the middle of the sidewalk to keep them from doing so. That is cancer.

read the whole thing via Los Angeles has Cancer — Medium.

It is worth a read.

behavior · community · hugs

A Simple Idea that Can Change All The Grumpy People You Live Around : Free Range Kids

A Simple Idea that Can Change All The Grumpy People You Live Around : Free Range Kids

First, get out your hankies. Then, consider what would happen if everyone in town could thank and encourage each other via a public message board. That’s what one anonymous Canadian wondered, and so he or she started a website (and Facebook account) called “Spotted in Windsor,” in Ontario.

It was inspired by a similar site the local university created, according to metronews.ca.

Most of the posts are positive, but not all.

Editor’s note: Some are downright heart-wrenching.

read some here via A Simple Idea that Can Change All The Grumpy People You Live Around : Free Range Kids.

architecture · behavior · community · creativity · design

Route Planning For The Happiest Walk, Not The Quickest | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

I am often focused on efficiency walking from place to place. But cyclists, runners, and other athletes talk about taking the more scenic route on their commutes or exercise routes, and maybe we should all follow suite.

Route Planning For The Happiest Walk, Not The Quickest | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

We’ve all [probably] taken a detour because the path is pleasant and scenic, even if it takes longer. But Google Maps and the like aren’t set up for that. They’re solely about speed and efficiency.Recent research led by Yahoo Labs shows how a planner-for-happiness might work. Using crowdsourced impressions of streets, Flickr data, and survey responses, it looks for a balance between “people’s emotional perceptions of urban spaces” and getting them to a destination in a reasonable amount of time.

more via Route Planning For The Happiest Walk, Not The Quickest | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.

anthropology · behavior · brain · children · community · culture · education · environment · happiness · health · learning · play · psychology · Social

Plug for the NGO Right to Play

I tweeted about this short film yesterday, but I really feel like this is worth giving some space on the blog for.

The value of play is important for teaching life skills like conflict resolution and collaboration, health lessons, healing from trauma, building community and just overall survival as a child and human being, the work this organization does seems simple but is hugely important.

This short video highlights some of the incredible impact that play can have on a child, or group of children.

You can also visit the organization’s website at Right to Play.

Play matters!

 

community · creativity · play · Social

Bubble Bath Seattle 2014- Yay Today!

I don’t recall this parable from Dr. Seuss, but I like the idea of a bubblefest!

If you want to recapture your childhood this weekend, head to Cal Anderson Park in Seattle, WA, with a gallon or so of soapy liquid for Bubble Bath Seattle, the biggest bubble fight this city has ever seen.

From 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Cal Anderson will transform into a sea of bubbles. Evidently these events have been going on in New York for years, but it’s the first time that Seattle has ever seen something this epic. Organizers draw inspiration from Dr. Seuss’s The Butter Battle Book

more via Bubble Bath Seattle 2014- Yay Today!.