#1608 Widespread Loneliness is a Solvable Social Problem (Transcript)

Air Date 2/7/2024

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast, in which we take a look at the loneliness epidemic that long predates the COVID lockdowns, which of course only made things worse. But it's not primarily a cultural or even a technological problem in origin as many believe. The issue, I think, largely has to do with how our built environment is designed, and then social and technological aspects compound the problem. 

Sources today include the PBS NewsHour, Studio Leonardo, The Happy Urbanist, a TED Talk, Changing Places, Strong Towns, Not Just Bikes and Vox, with an additional members-only clip from Andrewism.

Surgeon General discusses health risks of loneliness and steps to help connect with others - PBS NewsHour - Air Date 5-2-23

AMNA NAWAZ - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: Your declaration in this report very clearly link loneliness to matters of life or death, to put it plainly. This one number stuck out to me; it found social isolation increases the risk of premature mortality by nearly 30 percent. [00:01:00] How and why did you come to focus on this topic?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY: Well, I had certainly had firsthand experience with loneliness in my own life, and also in my care of patients, where I found so often people come into the hospital for one condition or another, but there was loneliness lurking in the background.

But it was only when I began my tenure as Surgeon General that I started to realize, in talking to people across the country, that loneliness was extraordinarily common. In fact, we are now finding that one in two adults report measurable levels of loneliness. And it turns out that young people are most affected than any other group.

And here's why this is so concerning: it's because we have realized that loneliness is more than just a bad feeling. It has real consequences for our mental and physical health. It increases our risk of depression, anxiety and suicide. But social disconnection also raises the risk of heart disease and dementia and premature death on levels on par with smoking daily and even greater than the risks that we see associated with [00:02:00] obesity.

So, however you look at it, loneliness and isolation are public health concerns that we have to prioritize.

AMNA NAWAZ - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: We see, according to your numbers, that things were already trending this way, that it was then accelerated during the pandemic. In fact, one of the numbers you highlight was, between 2003 and 2020, social engagement with friends decreased from 60 minutes a day in 2003 to just 20 minutes a day in 2020. Before COVID, how do you see that? What was driving that trend?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY: Well, there are a number of factors. And I'm glad you mentioned COVID, because COVID has poured fuel on a fire that was already burning. It's exacerbated loneliness and isolation.

But this has been building, Amna, for decades. We have in fact seen a decrease in participation in community organizations, in faith organizations and recreational leagues over several decades. We have seen that technology has fundamentally changed how we interact with one another and how we communicate with one another and, unfortunately, has often replaced what used to be rich in-person [00:03:00] connections with online connections, which often are of lower quality.

And, finally, we see that people are just experiencing tremendous change in their lives. They're moving more. They're changing jobs more often. And that can disrupt a lot of our social relationships.

It's not that these trends are necessarily bad, in and of themselves. But what we have to do now in modern life is intentionally build in the infrastructure we need for connection in our individual lives, as well as in our communities.

Our Loneliness Epidemic is Infrastructuralized - Studio Leonardo - Air Date 6-2-22 

RACHEL LEONARDO - HOST, STUDIO LEONARDO: Let's start by looking at this at a macro level. On the left, we have Los Angeles, California. And on the right, Copenhagen, Denmark. Nice places, right? Two well-known cities. 

But I don't really want to focus on how one differs from the other in terms of their climate or even their culture, although this does have an impact on that. What I want to touch on is the characteristics that actually make one of these cities lonelier than the other. 

And I know what you may be thinking: these are pretty standard maps. [00:04:00] The information on them is fairly basic. It's what you would see in Google or Apple Maps or Waze or whatever applications you use while driving around. It doesn't seem to present much more information than just that. But I actually want to show you something different. Every map that you have ever seen consists of at least one of six elements; that is, the city block, the buildings, the streets, the public space, the topography if we're getting technical or the landscape that we're in, and the last one is the overall land use.

So if we go into our maps again, we can actually start to highlight some of these elements. You begin to see how predominant the streets are in L. A. versus that of Copenhagen and the open space Copenhagen offers in comparison to L. A. 

Now I know these are two completely different cities; L. A. is significantly larger than Copenhagen, the climate is different, and there are other factors that have led into them being constructed the way that they have been.

But this is interesting, no? I mean, [00:05:00] if you think about it, L. A. is known for its heavy traffic. And the age-old American solution to traffic problems is adding more car lanes to the highways or roads, to which the response is more cars on the roads, which creates more traffic. And so we continue to make our roads wider and wider, only to find that the traffic problem is getting worse and worse. And what happens when you add more lanes is you take away space that could be used for bike lanes or open public spaces. 

I mean, picture this. You're standing on the sidewalk. Maybe you're trying to walk from your job to the gym. And on one side of you, you have huge skyscrapers, and then the other is a four to five lane road with cars barreling down it at least 40 to 50 miles per hour. That scenario doesn't feel like a very safe or inviting place to [00:06:00] be in. 

Now imagine you're walking down the street and the buildings are more proportionate to you, and on the other side of the street there are trees and maybe some housing and the road is actually blocked off to traffic. You can walk in and out of the street without feeling the danger that you would potentially get hit by oncoming traffic. 

And if you think about it, this isn't just some theory, right? If we look at Harvard's website, we see that a group of researchers have reported that about 61 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds experience severe loneliness.

Now when we look at the Danish website, we actually see that 22 percent of young adults between the same age range experience loneliness. Which means that young adults in the US in that same age group experience loneliness at a rate three times higher than that of a Danish person. 

VIDEO CLIP: Coincidence? I think not!

RACHEL LEONARDO - HOST, STUDIO LEONARDO: The people in Europe are known for walking more, whereas in the US we are always known for taking a car. The roads [00:07:00] dominate the L.A. map and there's barely any green space inside of the city. You always have to go outwards to find hiking trails, and even still you can't walk or bike there. You're pretty much always taking a car. 

And when we look at the map of Copenhagen we can visibly see that there's a balance between these elements that we mentioned before in the map. There is more green space. There are these small, narrow roads that spark your curiosity and make you want to walk down them. And when you are actually there on street level, these elements combined well, not only make the city feel safer, but also more inviting. 

Copenhagen is a city whose land use is catering towards the people who are inside of that city, whereas Los Angeles, and actually many US cities, are designed to cater that experience towards the people driving inside of their cars. Huh. 

So then if most American cities you have to use a car to get from [00:08:00] point A to point B, that means I reduced the amount of time that I'd be spending outside on a daily basis. And when I'm not outside as much, and my neighbors and friends aren't outside as much because they're also using the car to get from point A to point B, then we are less likely to randomly run into each other on the street. Which also reduces my chances to feel like I'm a part of a community. Because there is no casually bumping into or indirectly meeting up with friends.

And when we don't have community, that's when we start to feel lonely. 

VIDEO CLIP: I think she's got it. 

RACHEL LEONARDO - HOST, STUDIO LEONARDO: So when we take away our natural ability to be able to interact with one another, we actually begin to build our houses larger, so that we can fill the void of this loneliness that we're feeling with more space. But when we have more space as [00:09:00] individuals, then we actually make it more difficult to interact with one another on a daily basis, which also makes us feel more lonely. This process is cyclical. 

And this is the infrastructuralization of loneliness. It's a fact that between 1950 and 2022 that our home sizes have tripled. And really, for what? How often are you using all of the space in your homes? 

I think the harsh reality is that we are distracting ourselves from feeling lonely by building bigger houses. But that distraction is temporary. And once we feel like we've had our fill, we just build even bigger houses. And I don't think that that's solving our problem. 

Look, I'm not trying to condemn anyone's lifestyle. Oftentimes, we don't even realize that maybe this is why we are more prone to being lonely as a nation. And fortunately, I do feel like we are catching on to this. 

[00:10:00] Architectural and urban design firms like Optico in Tempe, Arizona are creating carless communities to fill a demand that people are now desiring. These communities have little to no access to cars, which makes the residents there feel safer. You're reducing noise pollution, and it just adds a quaintness that you can't get when you live next to huge roads. They offer this European vibe that we all seem to love so much. And that vibe is actually because of a well-balanced mix of the six elements that we mentioned before.

In order to begin changing the infrastructure of the US, we have to show that there's a demand for this, right? Encourage your cities and towns to throw a block party and close down the street for a weekend and use that as a test to see if this is something that would be better for the area that you're [00:11:00] living in.

These changes will come slowly. Infrastructure is not something that's built overnight. But I'm excited to see that there are people who are working on this right now and looking to make those changes. 

Original Barcelona video - @The Happy Urbanist TikTok - Air Date 12-15-23

JON JON WESOLOWSKI - THE HAPPY URBANIST: When did we go from a casual socialization culture to a planned socialization culture? The answer is complicated, but fascinating. Every sort of socialization we do in America has to be done with intent. Whether it's parents scheduling a play date, showing up for soccer, meeting a friend for coffee. And all this effort translates to being exhausted if you're an extrovert, and being lonely if you're an introvert, because you're less likely to want to do all that. But I think it's a hardware issue. 

Think of our cities, the public realm, the design of the landscape as hardware, and human activity within it as software. I think I got this idea from Coach Balto. One of the reasons we don't have more serendipitous, spontaneous interactions with our neighbors like we used to in the past and like they do in other countries is because of how we built our cities and this [00:12:00] became true to me when I was in Barcelona. Check this out. The typical neighborhood in Barcelona looks like this. You can live anywhere in the neighborhood and be a 15 minute walk from school, business, groceries, church, park, plaza, cafes, whatever you need. So, this facilitated more neighborly living. On your way home from walking your kid home from school, you might stop at the plaza. And this happens every day after school in Barcelona. Parents hang out in the periphery, kids get together and play in the middle. And this is where introverts would chime in and tell me like, I don't want to hang out with people every day, that sounds exhausting. But you're thinking of it from a planned socialization mindset. Because if this is something that's happening day in and day out with little pressure, you can show up, go off to the corner with your headphones on, or open up your laptop and get work done. But if you do overhear an interesting conversation or see someone you've been meaning to connect with, you can do it. 

As an introvert, it makes your life so much easier because you're not having to put yourself out there. And all these plazas are lined with cafes and bars, so a lot of the [00:13:00] time the parents are hanging out having a drink while the kids play. Oh, by the way, unstructured free play is so healthy for kids, it's like one of the best things you can do to decrease potential future anxiety and depression. And in our planning socialization culture, where every kid's outing has to be facilitated by an adult driving them there, an adult with nothing to do, kids are losing autonomy in that unstructured free play. This is giving them that back. What's interesting about cities that have these neighborhoods, the cities develop by copying and pasting these neighborhoods over and over again. So that, as the city grows, you just have all these different neighborhoods, each with similar and different personalities. And your walk or your commute to work or school, whatever it is, it's 15 minutes, is at a human pace. You smell smells, you see sights, you can hop into a store if you need to, or stop and say hey to someone. You're introduced to new types of people and new ways of living life. 

But let's contrast all this with planned socialization cultures and how they came about. In America, we decided to [00:14:00] divide up the city based on uses. The idea is that the commute is still 15 minutes, but it requires a car in order to get those times. But unlike being a pedestrian, when you're isolated inside of steel and glass, you don't care about the places you're driving through. Even now, you can think of places you'd be more than willing to drive your car through that you wouldn't want to walk to as a pedestrian. This is why Jane Jacobs says that when we truly call a place interesting, we mean it's interesting from the pedestrian's perspective. And because of this, we create a lot of what are called liminal spaces. Spaces of transition that don't feel comfortable to exist in. Think of an empty parking garage or a really wide street. These are places people don't want to be. But they're required in order to make these commutes feasible for these planned events.

The problem is, this is so inefficient that the city's footprint has to continue to grow in this same pattern. So that Nashville, even though it's similar in size to Barcelona, population wise, landmass-wise it takes up an [00:15:00] area 13 times that of Barcelona. This is expensive and part of the reason why our city's infrastructure is crumbling. That's 13 times more roads, power lines, sewer lines for the same size tax base. This also means when we go here to the store, we're not seeing people that we encountered at work and on our way to the coffee shop. We're just encountering people we happen to see at that store. It's a lot looser social capital, and social capital is one of the biggest indicators on whether or not someone can bust out of poverty and have increased economic mobility.

What's strange is America didn't used to be this way, and most of the world isn't this way. This is how cities naturally developed, a strong neighborhood copy and pasted over time to build out a city. You might think, It's America, land of the free, home of the brave. We have liberty, and this is what we chose to build. But that's not exactly true. This is what people 70 years ago chose to build, and they made laws to outlaw anything else. And these laws and plans were actually quite [00:16:00] nefarious. America's success started before this started happening, and our success is likely in spite of this, not because of it. One of these is better for our kids and for our mental health. One of these happens as a result of freedom and liberty and personal choice. One of these has to be enforced by sort of authoritarian laws. One of these creates liminal spaces that we don't like to inhabit. One of these bankrupts our cities and keeps marginalized people marginalized. 

And it's about this point that people come in and they like to comment something like, Well, capitalism, that's why. But I'm not going to accept those comments right now. Because Paris and London aren't capitalistic. If America became this, capitalism would find a way to thrive within this, like, casual socialization structure. It feel like, a lot of times, capitalism is an excuse used by those who don't want to take action. Because you want to know something? A lot of these laws and things that are happening are at the municipal level. They're at your city. You're being held up by city [00:17:00] councilors who win their elections by 50 votes. These are the things that can be changed. A small group of committed people can reshape their community for more spontaneous., whimsical, and delightful interactions by simply repealing laws that are on the books right now. I don't want to make it sound too easy or that it's too straightforward, but it's easier than you think and you're more capable to help influence it than you think.

How cohousing can make us happier (and live longer) | Grace Kim - TED - Air Date 8-7-17

GRACE KIM: Co-housing is an intentional neighborhood where people know each other and look after one another. In co-housing, you have your own home, but you also share significant spaces, both indoors and out. But before I show you some pictures of co-housing, I'd like to first introduce you to my friends Sheila and Spencer.

When I first met Sheila and Spencer, they were just entering their 60s and Spencer was looking ahead at the end of a long career in elementary education. And he really disliked the idea that he might not have children in his life upon retirement.

They're now my neighbors. We live in a co-housing [00:18:00] community that I not only designed, but developed, and have my architecture practice in. This community is very intentional about our social interactions. So let me take you on a tour. 

From the outside, we look like any other small apartment building. In fact, we look identical to the one next door, except that we're bright yellow. Inside, the homes are fairly conventional. We all have living rooms and kitchens, bedrooms and baths, and there are nine of these homes around a central courtyard. This one's mine, and this one's Spencer and Sheila's. And the thing that makes this building uniquely co-housing are not the homes, but rather, what happens here, the social interactions that happen in and around that central courtyard. When I look across the courtyard, I look forward to seeing Spencer and Sheila. In fact, every morning, this is what I see. Spencer waving at me furiously as we're making our breakfast. 

From our homes, we look down into the courtyard. [00:19:00] And depending on the time of year, we see this. Kids and grown ups in various combinations, playing and handing out with each other. There's a lot of giggling and chatter. There's a lot of hula hooping. And every now and then, Hey, quit hitting me, or a cry from one of the kids. These are the sounds of our daily lives and the sounds of social connectedness. 

At the bottom of the courtyard, there are a set of double doors, and those lead into the common house. And I consider the common house the secret sauce of co-housing. It's a secret sauce because it's the place where the social interactions and community life begin. And from there, it radiates out through the rest of the community.

Inside our common house, we have a large dining room to seat all 28 of us and our guests. And we dine together three times a week. In support of those [00:20:00] meals, we have a large kitchen so that we can take turns cooking for each other in teams of three. So that means, with 17 adults, I lead cook once every six weeks. Two other times, I show up and help my team with the preparation and cleanup. And all those other nights, I just show up. I have dinner, talk with my neighbors, and I go home having been fed a delicious meal by someone who cares about my vegetarian preferences.

Our nine families have intentionally chosen an alternative way of living. Instead of pursuing the American dream, where we might have been isolated in our single family homes, we instead chose co-housing so that we can increase our social connections. 

And that's how co-housing starts, with a shared intention to live collaboratively. And intention is the single most important characteristic that differentiates co-housing from any other housing model. And while intention is difficult to see or even [00:21:00] show, I'm an architect, and I can't help but show you more pictures. So here are a few examples to illustrate how intention has been expressed in some of the communities I visited. 

Through the careful selection of furniture, lighting, and acoustic materials to support eating together, and the careful location and visual access to kids' play areas around and inside the common house, and the consideration of scale and distribution of social gathering nodes in and around the community to support our daily lives.

All of these spaces help contribute to and elevate the sense of "communitas" in each community. What was that word? Communitas. Communitas is a fancy social science way of saying spirit of community. And in visiting over 80 different communities, my measure of communitas became how frequently did [00:22:00] residents eat together.

While it's completely up to each group how frequently they have common meals, I know some that have eaten together every single night for the past 40 years. I know others that have an occasional potluck once or twice a month. And from my observations, I can tell you those that eat together more frequently, they exhibit higher levels of communitas.

It turns out, when you eat together, you start planning more activities together. When you eat together, you share more things. You start to watch each other's kids. You lend out your power tools. You borrow each other's cars. And despite all this, as my daughter loves to say, everything is not rainbows and unicorns in co-housing, and I'm not best friends with every single person in my community. We even have differences and conflicts. But living in co-housing, we're intentional about our relationships. [00:23:00] We're motivated to resolve our differences. We follow up, we check in, we speak our personal truths, and when appropriate, we apologize. 

Skeptics will say that co-housing is only interesting or attractive to a very small group of people. And I'll agree with that. If you look at Western cultures around the globe, those living in co-housing are just a fractional percent. But that needs to change, because our very lives depend upon it. 

In 2015, Brigham Young University completed a study that showed a significant increased risk of premature death in those who are living in isolation. The US Surgeon General has declared isolation to be a public health epidemic. And this epidemic is not restricted to the US alone. So, when I said earlier that co-housing is an [00:24:00] antidote to isolation, what I should have said is that co-housing can save your life.

Fifteen-minute cities: inside the new model reshaping the world’s urban landscapes - Changing Places - Air Date 8-8-22

MARIAM SOBH - HOST, CHANGING PLACES: How did we get to a place in our world where most of what we need and do is located so far from our homes or immediate neighborhoods?

Jo Davis: I think you've got to look really back quite a long way to get to that answer. The industrial revolution was fundamental in all of that, and then that moved through the 19th and 20th Century with zonal planning. So, in effect, what we did is we put homes in one location, and we zoned the employment in another location, and the shops in the other. And of course then, with the growth of the car, that was absolutely fine. So, that's how we got to zonal planning. What obviously has changed in the UK is that that was based on a 1947 planning act. But we then turned around to the 1990 planning act, it was all about sustainable transport. It was actually all about actually, what does sustainable city mean? And therefore, we had to question whether actually those barriers to connecting places [00:25:00] was failing us.

MARIAM SOBH - HOST, CHANGING PLACES: Yeah. In some cities like London, the theater district is in the West End, and more niche high streets like those in Kensington and Hampstead are located on the other side of the city. Is the urban plan of our current cities restrictive by design, or just by folks buying into this idea that this is how things are, and this is just how it will continue to be?

Jo Davis: Well, it's really interesting. The starting point is that still, 80% of our population has a car. So, immediately, this first thought is to go by car or to travel by car. So that connection is done by car in the first instance. Second point that you just raised, which I think is largely important, more so in the UK than possibly elsewhere globally, is the fact that actually the history of how our cities has evolved influences where things are located, but also how you travel around places. And that's been really important, therefore, in actually allowing us to redress this point and to actually challenge whether [00:26:00] traveling to leisure and traveling to shops by car is the only option. And those barriers are being broken down there.

MARIAM SOBH - HOST, CHANGING PLACES: Let's hear from Professor Carlos Moreno, the man at the forefront of the 15-minute city.

Carlos Moreno: We need today to redefine our urban lifestyle, because this urban alternative lifestyles are not sustainable. One of the most relevant contribution is our crazy commute for going from my home to our office, two, three hours for a round trip. And at the same time, all actions linked with this hectic urban alternative lifestyles, we need to change not only preserving our environment, but for preserving our social link.

MARIAM SOBH - HOST, CHANGING PLACES: Prior to Mayor Anne Hidalgo's commitment to making [00:27:00] Paris a 15-minute city, there were places like cities... Amsterdam prided themselves on being very accessible, but was that simply because of the size of the city, or was that planned out? And are you seeing anything similar to that in the UK?

Jo Davis: So, I think without question that your Paris and your Amsterdams, they were planned out. That approach was in policy. That 15-minute walking place was in policy. Whilst it's best practice in the UK, in terms of the time and country planning association in the Royal Time Planning Institute, it's not policy, it's not dictated. So, therefore our ability is influenced by that. But then what's really happened in the UK, which I think is really interesting is that we started to challenge what makes a good place. And instead of designing for the car or designing for specific locations, what would you think is not what it looks like on the outside. How does it function? How does that space function? How do people move through it? In the city centers, what do people need to have a successful lifestyle? So actually [00:28:00] therefore moving away from the need from a car into actually I need a really good cycle route, or I really need a really good place to sit outside to enjoy my environment. And certainly COVID in the UK fundamentally changed that when everybody flipped from eating inside to outside. So therefore those spaces, that road space and the quality and the air quality of those spaces to allow people to sit outside fundamentally flipped overnight. And that's really changed, not through policy and dictate, but actually through people's demands and wants and expectations of the city. 

MARIAM SOBH - HOST, CHANGING PLACES: When it comes to the UK, are there cities that are committing to becoming 15-minute cities? And on the flip side of that, are there cities that are just dropping the ball?

Jo Davis: Not necessarily 15-minute cities in the way that you are perceiving them in your kind of your Paris and your Amsterdam where there's a dictate to that. In terms of the quality of those locations, all of the cities attest about walkability. What makes a good, safe city for people to [00:29:00] move around it, live in it without reliance on the planet or on the car? That's what's changing. So in effect it's a parallel process to 15-minute cities, but it's being taken from a different angle.

Speaker 10: I can't speak for all Vancouverites but it's definitely something that appeals to me. Yeah, and that's just because I decided many years ago to go car free. And that's as a result of living in Japan for a year and relying on mass transit. Tokyo was highly transited. There were trains and transit everywhere to go everywhere and was so convenient. So I came back to Vancouver and I just wanted to see if I could live that lifestyle here. And I'm very pro 15-minute cities.

MARIAM SOBH - HOST, CHANGING PLACES: Can you tell me about how and why Bristol, England, from your point of view, has adopted a 15-minute city ethos and how it will benefit the [00:30:00] city and its residents in the long term?

Jo Davis: So I think Bristol is ahead of the game. So when it had its cycle strategy in 2000, so it was the European Cycle City, that changed the goalpost into the way that people were intended or encouraged to move around the city. So, we started to create the Brunel Mile that went from the train station right away to the city center and into the residential areas. That created the opportunities and the space for people to walk and cycle safely across the city. We're seeing policies that require every development on the harbor side to have a harbor-side walk in front of it so you can do a circular walk around it. So there's a number of really good policies that have been put forward by the city, through its planning process to blend that kind of 15-minute city center and that removal of cars from the city. So, it's a carrot and stick approach.

You Don’t Have To Move To Live In A Better Place - Strong Towns - Air Date 1-9-24

ERIC WEBER: What I say, let's just do it as a community and get it done and get a thank you from the city, like, Thank you for taking care of this problem. Thank you for being a part of our [00:31:00] community and saying, I care about this community. This is what we're doing. And give it the stamp of approval instead of the, well, Did you see what they did?

HOST STRONG TOWNS: This is Eric, and he's the kind of person that any city would be lucky to have. He embodies the Strong Town's principle of seeing needs and meeting them. And he runs the Union Gospel Mission. As you can tell, he's not one to wait when he sees an opportunity to make a difference.

ERIC WEBER: That's our outreach department for domestic violence. We have a youth area over here. Fridays at one to three, they get free haircuts. A community art space. This is our dentist office area. This is a teaching kitchen. This is a women's center right here. I'm not gonna send a 17-year old boy over to the men's center without his parents, right? So, we decided to create, this used to be a big empty space, and so we created a place.

HOST STRONG TOWNS: Eric and the Union Gospel Mission aren't the kind of people who just wait for things to get done. And the local conversation isn't either. After painting crosswalks in front of the Union Gospel Mission for an event, [00:32:00] both groups noticed this similarity and decided to start the CRC, or the Community Revitalization Collective mentioned earlier. 

ERIC WEBER: Like, if we're gonna feed more people and do bigger things, I'll go get it. And so sure enough, I showed up with it. He's like, we need a refrigerator. I'm like, here you go. There's your refrigerator, you know? You know? Like, what do you need now? You need pots and pans? We got that, too. You know? So it's one of those things, how can I help our community? How can they help Jordan and his team do better stuff in our community?

HOST STRONG TOWNS: Do you see it now? For five years, people in Strong Town Sioux Falls were grabbing coffee, painting crosswalks, talking cities, making connections, slowly and slowly, and then all at once it comes together. Those years of relationships and built trust mean that they don't just have to talk.

LOCAL NEWS CLIP: An organization built around bringing people together received a $100,000 grant to study the Whittier neighborhood and bring forward ideas for the area.

JORDAN DEFFENBAUGH: There were plenty of grants we applied for that we didn't get. [00:33:00] There were plenty of projects that we dreamed up in these meetings and they never happened. But, that iteration, that prototyping that we did, put us in a place where we were ready to get and receive that $100,000. If we got that $100,000 the first year, we would have screwed it up.

HOST STRONG TOWNS: What Jordan is saying is reminiscent of what Jane Jacobs called cataclysmic money, where a neighborhood sees disinvestment for a long time and then is presented with a ton of money all at once, which can change a neighborhood radically and quickly. So, there is risk with receiving a large grant like this.

JOHN PATTISON: If we were to get these big grants, like they got in Sioux Falls, too quickly, before we have really cohered as a team, before we tried things, before we've developed a leadership team, critically, before we've developed a reputation in our community, that can be disastrous. You really need the [00:34:00] resilience that comes from trying things, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but growing stronger and more robust.

HOST STRONG TOWNS: And luckily the group in Sioux Falls did go through this process. They knew what they were doing because they spent time listening to their community's needs. By staying involved at the community level, they were then ready to act when groups like Habitat for Humanity had similar goals. Habitat was already a major player in town working to revitalize the Whittier neighborhood through what they call the Quality of Life Framework, which begins with the dreams and concerns of a neighborhood and works up from there.

MARCUS BRANDENBURG: Um, and so through that process, after a few meetings, I started noticing that there's more and more individuals that were joining us, but wasn't quite sure what that connection was. And then I found out it was Strong Town members that started to come to the CRC and actually started to help us with some of these projects throughout our community.

HOST STRONG TOWNS: There's also something special about this approach that we should take note of. The grant that the CRC received isn't being [00:35:00] used all at once on a huge project. It's being used to continue that same process of listening to a community's needs, fixing the next smallest thing, and then iterating to figure out what works. One way that they keep tabs on the community's needs is simple: hosting events based around food. 

MARCUS BRANDENBURG: So sometimes, you know, starting at the lower levels, you know, just serving a taco or painting someone's house or, you know, doing yard work. It may seem kind of, you know, that it's not really making an impact, but it is because it helps those networking aspects, like I was saying. It's building relationship. It's, uh... and then it's just amazing how that develops over time and how things just all come together and connect. 

HOST STRONG TOWNS: With things coming together, Sioux Falls is securely in the making moves stage. Sure, they're nowhere close to being Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but even if they had the billions or trillions needed to make those massive changes immediately, the community would fight that kind of top down massive initiative.

It's [00:36:00] frustrating, sure, but if we want to live in a resilient, vibrant, and unique place, those changes need to come from a swarm of locals, all across town, making incremental changes, listening to the needs of neighborhoods, and winning people over by addressing those needs. To do this, you're going to have to touch some grass, get outside, make some friends, and then grab a paintbrush, a trash picker, or a hammer and get to work.

There are so many reasons that people move, and we aren't saying that you shouldn't. But if you're pro/con list even suggests that you might stay, we think it's not only worth your time to leave your place better than you found it, but it's also a really meaningful way to live. We all want to live a good life in a prosperous place, and you can move the needle in that direction. You have allies in your city waiting for you to do something. Friends and teammates who are ready to meet you and a lot of stroads to, um, to unstroad.[00:37:00] 

Why American public transit is so bad? - Vox - Air Date 10-22-20 

LARA BULT - HOST, VOX: This is Cincinnati in 1955. It's what a lot of American cities used to look like. There were some highways, but most of the city was on a grid, which made it easy to get around either on foot or on public transit, like streetcars. But around the same time, a huge government infrastructure project changed the US dramatically. New interstate highways were built from coast to coast, many of them running right through the downtowns of many cities. Today, Cincinnati looks like this. Instead of a grid, there's a tangle of highways that make some neighborhoods almost impossible to get to on foot. And if you don't drive, it's hard to get around the city at all.

The same thing happened in countless other cities too, like Detroit and Kansas City. And as cities expanded outward along those highways, one kind of American neighborhood flourished, entirely residential, filled with single family homes. And because they were spread out instead of dense, they also changed how Americans got around. Living there required you to [00:38:00] travel a lot farther for just about anything. By 2020, a study found that the average workday distance traveled for Americans was seven miles.

ADIE TOMER: Now if you're a driver, that doesn't sound long at all. In fact, in your head you might be thinking, that only takes 10 minutes. It's a biking distance that is both strenuous and potentially unsafe, and for pedestrians it's a nearly impossible distance to traverse in any kind of reasonable time. By seeing these kind of travel distances, we understand the consequences of what we've built: automobile-oriented neighborhoods. 

LARA BULT - HOST, VOX: A later approach to neighborhood planning has created places that look more like this: neighborhoods designed to put you closer to what you need, that center around a transit hub, with buildings that contain not just housing, but office space and businesses too. This is called transit-oriented development. And the people who live in these places are less likely than the national average to drive, and more likely to walk, bike, or take transit. But developing new neighborhoods like this is an extremely long-term project. [00:39:00] 

JONATHAN ENGLISH: If we're going to address these issues, we have to accept the world that we live in now, and make transit work in that world, rather than dream of a new world.

LARA BULT - HOST, VOX: Jonathan English is an urban planner in Toronto, and he thinks getting more Americans to use public transit doesn't have to be so hard.

In a research project, Jonathan created these maps of American cities, and drew lines on them wherever there was a reliable public transit route, which he defined as this. 

JONATHAN ENGLISH: A bus that comes every 30 minutes, till midnight, 7 days a week. The absolute bare minimum of a transit route that you can count on.

LARA BULT - HOST, VOX: These were the results in Denver, Portland, Charlotte, and Washington, D. C. You can see a familiar design in them: service-oriented around a downtown, but that doesn't really connect neighborhood to neighborhood. And this was the result in Toronto. 

JONATHAN ENGLISH: When you go to a Toronto suburb, it's not very unfamiliar to any American. You see [00:40:00] houses with big driveways, two car garages, winding suburban streets. The difference is that the bus goes past those single family homes every five minutes, and it runs 24 hours a day. 

LARA BULT - HOST, VOX: And that difference changes everything. Even car owners in Toronto ride the bus. And Jonathan says the lesson for American cities is obvious.

JONATHAN ENGLISH: That shows that it is possible that if we invest in basic operations and improving basic local service, that the riders will come. Something that we can do in a matter of weeks. 

LARA BULT - HOST, VOX: In other words, it's mostly a matter of whether we choose to fund that. 

This chart shows how public transit gets funded in the US, mostly by local and state governments, and by the fares people pay to ride, which makes state and local elections super important for public transit. Right now, the federal government contributes the smallest part. And even that part is limited in what it can pay for. Very little federal transit funding [00:41:00] helps pay for day-to-day operations, even though that's often where transit systems need the most help. Instead, most federal money gets directed to what are called capital investments, flashy new physical infrastructure projects that often get a lot of media attention. 

JONATHAN ENGLISH: So you end up with a billion-dollar rapid transit project or light rail or bus rapid transit project where the vehicles don't actually run all that frequently.

NINA LIMBECK: I still really value being on a train line and I would never live anywhere that wasn't a 15 minute walk from the train, because I think that's so much a part of my experience as a Chicago resident being able to access it if I need it. But it's pretty poorly designed. 

LARA BULT - HOST, VOX: Most Americans live in places that were built for cars. If we want to change that in the long term, we'll have to build communities that look differently. 

Right now, Americans drive because it's the most convenient option. But that also means that you don't actually need to transform a whole country to get more people to ride public transit. You just need to make it convenient [00:42:00] enough that they want to.

The Great Places Erased by Suburbia (the Third Place) - Not Just Bikes - Air Date 11-21-22

JASON SLAUGHTER - HOST, NOT JUST BIKES: Lacking public space, many suburbanites try to recreate a third place, but in their own private fiefdom. You might have a neighborhood barbecue in your backyard, join a private social club, or God forbid, build yourself a man-cave. And the kids will play on their own in your own backyard instead of playing with other kids in your local park.

But all of these lack the important characteristics of a true third place. You're unlikely to run into anyone you don't know and you're almost certainly not going to meet anyone who isn't demographically similar to you. Most suburban neighborhoods in North America are built with all houses at about the same price point.

This means that all of the people you'd meet in your homemade hang zone are probably the same socioeconomic status that you are. And one of the benefits of a third place is meeting people who aren't exactly like you. 

And private recreations of public places remove all spontaneity anyway. There's nothing wrong with planning to have friends over, but if it's your only option for socializing, then [00:43:00] you miss out on the chance encounters and bumping into familiar faces like you'd get from your local.

Maybe you can drive to your favorite bar, but if you have to drive there, you're probably not meeting people who live near you. And a place where you go out with friends and never talk to anyone else is very different from the neighborhood pub where you run into the same people on a regular basis. Plus, if you have to drive there, you can't hang out all night getting absolutely sloshed, or at least you shouldn't. North America has a lot of problems with drunk driving due to its insane zoning laws, but that's a topic for a future video. 

Of course, the most famous suburban attempt at recreating a third place in suburbia is the shopping mall. Whether you're a teenager who can't go anywhere without a driver's license, or a senior who wants to go for a walk but your suburb has no safe sidewalks, the mall is the suburban alternative to the town square.

But we can't rely on malls as third places either. For one thing, a lot of malls are shutting down. Up to a quarter of them will be gone soon, according to some [00:44:00] estimates, and their replacement, the big box store, is even worse. But more importantly, malls don't do what a third place does. They are designed to be attractions that draw people from all over, not just from your local community, and therefore they don't build any kind of social cohesion. You're unlikely to recognize familiar faces at the mall unless you work there, and you're really unlikely to strike up a conversation with any of them unless you're one of those pushy kiosk guys. 

Some cities are trying to recreate third places themselves. In Washington, D. C., office workers can reserve tables and chairs in certain public parks to work and socialize. But, again, this eliminates the spontaneity that is inherent to a third place. You can't just pop by and see the regulars. It's a whole thing that you have to plan. Also, reserving a public table to do even more work on your laptop is kind of defeating the purpose of a place outside of work. 

However, one interesting third place that's still hanging on in many places in the US is [00:45:00] the local barbershop. This is common in many Middle Eastern cultures, but also in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the US as well. The barbershop can function as a third place where men can hang out and chat, even if they're not there for a haircut. 

Of course, there are still historical walkable neighborhoods in North America where third places are more accessible, but unfortunately, their numbers have been declining since the 2008 recession, and the lockdowns during the pandemic accelerated this trend. According to the same American Community Life Survey, in 2021, just 56 percent of Americans report having a spot in their communities they go to regularly, and that was 9 percentage points lower than in 2019. Unsurprisingly, the same survey showed that Americans who do have a local spot generally live in denser, walkable urban areas and not suburbia.

Ultimately, US and Canadian cities will never have really great third places as long as zoning stays broken. As of right now, [00:46:00] third places don't exist in most new neighborhoods in America, mostly because they can't, and trying to recreate their benefits in a world that is specifically designed to exclude them is always going to fail.

The concept of a third place can seem a bit nebulous at times, and it's easy for people to dismiss it. I've heard suburbanites say, I'd much rather hang out in my basement with my friends than go out somewhere. Which may be true, but, I really think that some of this sentiment comes from people who have never really had a good third place nearby before, a place you can easily stop by whenever you want, without driving and without taking a trip out of your neighborhood, because, once you try it, you don't really want to live without it. 

Ultimately, if a neighborhood truly prioritizes third places, it's going to be a better place to live in general, even when you're not spending time in them. A neighborhood that plans for third places will necessarily be more walkable, more accessible, and a better place to live. It could even turn your neighborhood into somewhere where everybody [00:47:00] knows your name.

What is Mutual Aid? - Andrewism - Air Date 3-24-21

ANDREW SAGE - HOST, ANDREWISM: Mutual aid is more than donating to someone's GoFundMe or delivering groceries to the elderly during the pandemic though. Mutual aid is a long term commitment to anti capitalism, to building community relationships, to reciprocity and exchange, and to removing community dependency on the capitalist state. 

Peter Kropotkin is well known for his observations of mutual aid in nature and in the various social organizations humanity has undertaken. In his book Mutual Aid, A Factual Revolution, he explores the collaboration of insects, birds, and non-human-mammals as they practice mutual aid in the furtherance of their species, and in some cases, other species too. 

Humans throughout history and prehistory have also practiced various forms of mutual aid, regardless of their sociopolitical organization, in order to survive—mutual aid always finds a way. Kropotkin speaks of the communes of the Ariège in southwest France, where neighbors would come together to enjoy chestnuts and wine, and work together while making nut oil, crushing hemp, and [00:48:00] shelling corn. All worked and provided for all, with no concern for remuneration or transaction.

Communities were also organized to share butter and cheese, maintain canals, protect land and provide free medical care. And such activities, not relegated to past picturesque French Countrysides. For example, here in Trinidad, when folks lime, as in hangout, whether at home, on the beach or wherever people bring drinks and snacks, helps to cook and clean, organized jobs, and so on. Mutual aid, communal care, you can find such practices anywhere you go. 

Long before Kropotkin put pen to people, mutual aid has been the central practice of colonized peoples across the world, both pre and post colonialism. It's not new, but many practices were purposefully destroyed by settlers through genocide, assimilation, and capitalism.

States have always viewed such communal relations as a threat to their existence, and have consistently taken [00:49:00] efforts to erode such relations. Mutual aid has been the foundation of peace and prosperity, as well as the refuge in times of war, disaster, and misery, keeping people together when they need it the most.

Today, mutual aid is especially significant in the context of social movements resisting colonial, and capitalist domination, where wealth and resources are extracted and concentrated, and people can only survive by participating in the corrupt system. In such a context, the coordinated, collective care of mutual aid is radical and generative. Mutual aid has tremendous potential.

As an organizer, I'm all too familiar with folks in need. Eviction defense, child care, healthcare, transportation, and so on. It's hard for people to get involved in building tomorrow when they're trapped in a crisis or crises, struggling to survive today. That's where support comes in. But not just any old support. Support that has a political [00:50:00] analysis of the conditions that produce these crises. Support that targets systems, not people. Support that breaks stigma and isolation. Support that uplifts. Mutual Aid. 

Effective mutual aid exposes the system's failure and shows an alternative. It builds faith in the power of people to organize themselves, destroying apathy and hopelessness. And it also builds new transformative skills for collaboration, self determination, participation, decision making, conflict management, meeting facilitation, coordination, and so much more. A lot of organizers build these skills during the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, as far back as the Occupy movement. 

Skills share plays a very important role in mutual aid, and I'm not talking about that skill share sharing skills is a way to build autonomy by giving everyone opportunities to learn skills they can then go on to share with others. And although reciprocity is a key aspect of mutual aid, [00:51:00] that doesn't mean we're constantly measuring contributions. In some cases, you really can't pay back certain skill shares, because of how vastly valuable they may be. And that's okay. Shed the tit for tat transactional view of relationships, and just provide for the greater good because you can and want to. As indigenous anarchist Regan de Lugans put it, mutual aid is about community knowledge. Community knowledge is community strength we do not withhold. 

Cultivating community solidarity is essential, bringing people of all walks of life together. Mutual aid can also foster the community's ability to boldly defy the illegitimate limitations of rules and authorities. Here, I'll paint an example for you. 

Organizers from Mutual Aid Disaster Relief traveled to Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria to support in whatever way they could, and ended up discovering a government warehouse that was neglecting to distribute huge stockpiles of supplies.

They showed their [00:52:00] Mutual Aid Disaster Relief badges to the guards and said, "we are here for the 8am pick up." When the guards replied that their names were not on the list, they just insisted again, "we are here for the 8am pick up." They were eventually allowed in, told to take whatever they needed. After being let in once, aid workers were able to return repeatedly. They made more badges for local organizers, and this source continued to benefit local communities for months afterwards. 

In the face of disaster, We need to take bold actions, without waiting for permission, to save lives and communities, and to reimagine ways of interacting with the world. We need to break norms of individualism, passivity, and respect for private property above human need. And besides extreme cases of disaster, understand that mutual aid is more than survival or scraping by. It's how communities can thrive. However, as mutual aid has gained popularity, we have to recognize certain errors, pitfalls, and [00:53:00] challenges that mutual aid organizers have faced and will face. 

Mutual aid is not charity. First and foremost, we can't let the media machine turn mutual aid into a synonym for charity. We have to be able to protect radical ideas from assimilation into the status quo. Always ask yourself, "is it mutual? Is it aid? Because charity is not mutual aid, and mutual aid is not charity.

People default to the framework of charity because that's what dominates our mainstream understanding of what it means to support folks in crisis. It's a giver receiver relationship. One group, usually wealthy donors of the government gives, and another group, usually struggling to survive poor folks, receive.

Of course, there are projects that are more horizontal and collective, but if it's a giver-receiver relationship, it's not mutual aid, cuz it's not mutual. I'm not saying these projects are a bad thing, nor am I saying you shouldn't give to people. I'm just saying, don't [00:54:00] call it what it isn't. Charity constantly frames rich folks and corporations as benevolent and good for the community and generous, while the uphold and legitimized systems that cause such poverty. The massive charity industrial complex is one big operation freely donors to avoid taxation secure government grants, and decide what projects even get support without any say from the people they're supposedly helping. If we're talking about the charity model as a whole, it's often tainted by notions of Puritan morality.

Charity often has eligibility requirements like the means testing of government welfare. These requirements usually demand sobriety, clean records, piety, curfews, job training, course participation, cooperation with the police and so on. It's a big effort to determine the worthiness or unworthiness of those in need, pathologizing and criminalizing usually poor black people. Plus, there's so much effort in our culture to stigmatize those who receive aid, so a lot of people desperately try to avoid those conditions [00:55:00] by jumping into exploitative jobs and such. 

When we're organizing, we have to work against these forces, not with them. Remember, mutual aid must have a strong political analysis of the systems that produce these crises, expose these failures, and demonstrate an alternative. 

Mutual Aid is not saviourism. Mutual Aid projects must avoid saviourism and paternalism. That's that charity mindset playing up again. The benevolent, superior saviour swooping down in to save these desperate people by replacing their old ways of life with smarter, more moral, and more profitable ways of life. They "save" people with "innovations", that decimate housing, displace residents, privatize schools, destroy infrastructure and gentrify neighborhoods. It's just colonialism. Mutual aid projects have to resist those saviour narratives and support folks through a conscious analysis of savourism and a constant centering of self [00:56:00] determination for people in crisis.

Final comments on what you can do today to improve your social connections

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with the PBS NewsHour speaking with the surgeon general about the health implications of loneliness. Studio Leonardo explained why loneliness stems from our built infrastructure. The Happy Urbanist explained the planned socialization mindset. Grace Kim in a TEDTalk explained the benefits of co-housing. Changing Places looked at the concept of the 15 minute city. Strong Towns described how to build community to make change in your area. Vox explored why US public transit is so bad. And Not Just Bikes touted the benefits of third places. That's what everybody heard, but members also heard a bonus clip from Andrewism describing the concept of mutual aid. To hear that and have all of our bonus contents delivered seamlessly to the new members only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support, or shoot me an email requesting [00:57:00] a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information 

Now to wrap up, I have a quick bonus clip for you. This was sent in by one of our transcription volunteers, Brian. It just caught his attention. He thought we'd be interested in hearing it. And I was, and it turned out very coincidentally to fit very well with a show we were already working on.

mychal3ts on Instagram: A library grown up and library kid come up to me at the library desk and the library grown up says, Can you help us check out our books? I say, Yes, that's my job. So I start checking out the books and, as I do, the library kid waves at me. So I wave back and I say, Hi! And the library kid says, Hi! What's good in your life? And the library grown up chuckles and says, You're trying so hard to make that a thing, aren't you? And I love that they're trying to make that a thing. 'What's good in your life?' as part of a greeting to other human beings. We, as human beings, when we say, Hi! How are you? We're not ready to listen to how that person is. If I say, Hi, how are you? And you say, I'm crippled by anxiety. [00:58:00] I am unhinged. That is not part of the response that we're expecting. It's a five second greeting. Hi, how are you? We don't want to know how are you, how you're doing, but this library kid does by saying, What's good in your life? And I love the power behind that.

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: So, I definitely liked that idea, but, forgive me, I cannot bring the same level of, uh, energy that that guy was able to bring to Instagram. But I will talk about it in a slightly more subdued way. Now, we talked on the show today about the built infrastructure around us and how that impacts our interactions with each other. And I would say that our standard greetings, as he was describing the, you know, Hey, how are you?, it's sort of the verbal equivalent of built infrastructure. It's just, it's all around us. It's what we do. It's something we don't consciously think of. Right? If you wanted to take a really conscious approach, you could dramatically change your greeting, like the guy described in that video, and you could say [00:59:00] like, What's good in your life?, and you say it, you know, really earnestly and with emphasis while looking the person in the eye and letting them know you actually want to hear their response. But honestly, that's not what most people are going to do. But even making a modest change from How's it going? to What's good?, could make a subtle but profound impact by always framing the question in the positive rather than the neutral. You know, you may spark positive thoughts in the other person's mind, as opposed to the negative ones that may naturally come up when you ask that question slightly differently. And they might appreciate it, or they might put them in a slightly better mood, or it might very slightly improve your interaction with them. Any number of small positives that could happen that could compound over time. 

Now, the only note I would add on this is that we shouldn't stop there lest we add to toxic positivity. We shouldn't [01:00:00] only ever ask about the good, right? If we're actually connecting more deeply, it's definitely important to demonstrate that you're open to hearing about people's problems, their sadnesses, anything like that as well. So, small aside. 

Now, moving on, on the topic of third places, as we heard described today, I have some thoughts. I had a place like this in my, like, late teens-early twenties. It was just the pizza place where my friends and I, you know, most of us all worked in the same place. And it was like the habit of plenty of people to show up at that restaurant anytime we were bored, not just when we were working. So, if you, and some other people did that, then you'd just end up meeting spontaneously. And that's kind of the essence of a third place, right? You didn't have to make a plan. You just went to the place and allowed the socializing to happen to you. So I can [01:01:00] totally vouch for the statement made in the show today that once you've lived with a good third place in your life, you really don't want to go without it. 

Now, unfortunately for me and apparently most of society, that was really the only third place I've ever had and I have been lamenting the loss of it for 20 years. But I would argue that the third place problem goes beyond the lack of good third places themselves. There's also the lack of general free time and energy for so many of us, which is why I also love the point made in the show about the planned socialization mindset, that that way of socializing drains energy, because it's so much more work. And they point out that it affects everyone. Extroverts get exhausted from having to make plans all the time and introverts can't even muster the energy to make plans in the first place and so they default to staying in. 

Now I'm a pretty solid introvert, which does not mean I don't want to hang out with people, but [01:02:00] it does drain my energy. And so if just the process of getting the socializing started also takes energy. Then that's a real double whammy for someone like me. That's why having the third place at my old pizza job worked for me. Because you just show up and the socialization happens without extra effort and energy being expended. But, you know, let's just say that you're not 19 years old with hardly any responsibilities, as I was, and you and the people you know are all fully in the planned socialization mindset because your lives are busy and it doesn't feel like you have another choice, I actually do have some advice on pulling some of the benefits from third place spontaneity into our over-scheduled lives. And it doesn't even require building permits and urban planning experts. 

I heard this idea, you know, once a long time ago, about [01:03:00] how a particular individual likes to facilitate social gatherings for themselves. They would pick a window of time, maybe three to five hours, something like that on a weekend afternoon and plan to be in a specific place for that whole window, like, you know, a cafe. They would bring things to entertain themselves a book, a project to work on, and then they would tell everyone who they knew, who was sort of in the area, who they had any interest in hanging out with, where they were going to be and when, giving an open invitation with, you know, like, the clarity that, Hey, I'm inviting a bunch of people, if you can make it, come whenever you like, stay for as long or as short as you like. I'll be there. I'd love to see you. If you can't make it. No problem. Right? Just totally open, no pressure invitation. That way, other people could figure out for themselves what worked with their own schedule and [01:04:00] responsibilities. Can they make it or not? And at what time and for how long. These are the sorts of details that are the exhausting part of hashing out a planned socialization. But if there's just an open invitation during a window of time at a specific place. Then there's no need to go back and forth about details at all. Just show up if you can, stay until you need to leave, or if you can't make it, maybe I'll catch you next time. Right? Easy. No pressure. Semi-spontaneous socialization. And that's something that anyone could start doing today. 

So, try that out if you think it suits you. And then when someone does come to your semi-spontaneous social meetup, talk to them about the benefits of co-housing and how one of the biggest benefits is the endless supply of semi-spontaneous social gatherings with essentially no planning ever required. 

That is going to be it for today. As always keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about [01:05:00] this or anything else. You can leave a voicemail or send us a text to 202-999-3991, or simply email me to [email protected]. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to our Transcriptionist Trio, Ken, Brian, and Ben for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who already support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships. You can join them by signing up today at bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patrion page, or from right inside the Apple podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and often funny bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content, no ads, and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes, all through [01:06:00] your regular podcast player. You'll find that link in the show notes, along with a link to join our Discord community where you can also continue the discussion. 

So, coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show, from bestoftheleft.com. 

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