Chatting to a few people on my street, emailing a few others in Bearwood about our ideas for Lightwoods park, or reading the latest post on The Bearwood Page on Facebook or on the Bearwood Blog. These things all make me feel happy.
Just a few friendly conversations during the Lightwoods consultation day or at a local Council meeting has propelled me into various pre-existing and new networks of people who live in Bearwood.
I started to reflect more on this last week as a Swiss train to the Alps slowly took me further away from Bearwood. On the paper I was reading I started to sketch out a spider diagram showing the people I’d met, or connected with in a new way, since going to the Lightwoods Park consultation day last November.
It’s not even comprehensive when I look at it now and at each new meeting I go to there’ll probably be someone else I could add to it. But 5 months on from the first Lightwoods event it’s substantial compared to the few people I knew on my street prior to November 2010.
None of this should be surprising to me. I work on a project which is measuring people’s well-being in England – how well people eat, how happy they are in their local community (social well-being...), their mental health and how physically active they are. I’ve always known I could eat better, do more exercise and try to stress a little less and that these things would probably have a positive effect (if I did them...). But understanding the impact of having deeper and broader social networks around the area I live?
This should have, perhaps, been obvious to me but I can’t honestly say I’ve thought about it that much. It’s only now, living in Bearwood and getting more involved in local initiatives, that I’m beginning to realise exactly what ‘social well-being’ might mean and its importance for my general sense of well-being and life satisfaction...