Exploring Social Connection, Diversity, and Trust’s Influence on Well-Being - Part I
My name is Marina Delbecchi (she/her/hers) and I am the Community Outreach Intern with Wello. Throughout the next couple of weeks, I am diving into the concept of social capital and ways we can build it here in Green Bay. I’ll be reading Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community and various other articles. Follow along and let me know what you think! Heads up, I am a 25 year-old white university student passionate about social justice who has a dog named after the show Gilmore Girls and doesn’t eat meat; I’m an obvious cliché. So I am no expert on this topic, just doing my best to research and acknowledge the biases I have. Hold me accountable!
While reading the results from Wello’s Well-Being survey, one of the largest takeaways I found is that when it comes to something that would improve well-being in our community, people are looking for more diversity and acceptance, and they want to feel a sense of social connectedness. This has become increasingly relevant during this unique situation of social distancing.
I decided I wanted to look more into how to create a sense of community and foster diversity. I was led to multiple articles by Robert Putnam regarding his research on social capital. His findings have been controversial, to say the least, and I’ll admit, I was taken aback by the results at first. The initial quote that caught me off guard was “immigration and ethnic diversity tend to reduce social solidarity and social capital.” This helped Punam come to the conclusion that “the more ethnically diverse the people we live around, the less we trust them”. My first thoughts were something along the lines of “how dare you!” and I was upset with how these results could be used to promote ideologies that are opposed to diversity in the first place. Once I read more about the findings from Putnam’s research he explained that not only do Americans distrust people who don’t look like them, they also don’t trust people who do.
So ethnicity doesn’t have to do with it, it turns out, we just have trust issues!
What we have to keep in mind though, is that diversity in our community will only grow. So how do we help people understand our diversity while also realizing there’s still work to do? I always think of a quote by Rachel Cargle, “unless the racism is addressed and eradicated in the places you are looking to make diverse you are simply bringing people of color into violent and unsafe spaces.”
Sit with that and we’ll pick this up next time.