- The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation defines social capital "as human connections that make for healthier people, neighborhoods, communities and society."
-Those connections or relationships are considered part of what generates a sense of belonging, which fosters an entire list of options for building a strong community.
- Research indicates communities rich in social capital tend to have desirable attributes - higher achievements in education, better performances in government, faster economic growth and less crime and violence.
- Get out much? Residents in Brainerd-Baxter are less likely to have attended a community celebration or event compared to other locales in the lakes area.
- Participation in community events peaks in the 35 to 54 age range. The study found it declined slightly for older residents.
- Residents who don't plan to live here beyond five years are a little more isolated socially than people who plan to call the lakes area home for the long term.
- Single people, who are more often in the young adult or senior citizen years, are less likely to take part in a community celebrations.
- Children are a catalyst. Residents with children at home are more likely to be involved in a community project, celebration or event.
- Eight in 10 lakes area residents report attending a celebration, parade or local sports or art event. Fewer than two in 10 have donated blood or attended a political meeting or rally. (The survey was completed in October 2007). Residents in central Minnesota were much more likely to have attended a political rally or meeting or club or organization meeting.
- At 16 percent, lakes area residents were relatively close to the regional and national percentages for donating blood but far behind central Minnesota's 39 percent.
What can you do?
Plenty. The strategies for building social capital seem relatively easy.
- Assist with a community or organization's newsletter.
- Organize a neighborhood litter pick-up.
- Sing in a choir.
- Help someone in need.
- Open the doors for someone when their arms are full.
- Help the kids on your street construct a lemonade stand.
- Make an effort to meet new people.
- Attend your town meeting.
- Don't gossip.
- Attend home parties when invited.
- Donate blood.
- Join a service club.
- Attend your children's events.
- Join a gardening club.
- Attend, speak or host a brown bag lunch event.
- Get to know the names of clerks and salespeople at your area stores.
- Source: New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
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