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.
What can you do?
Plenty. The strategies for building social capital seem relatively easy.
About the series
Feb. 24: Trust and happiness.
March 2: Politics and community involvement. Are residents engaged politically? Do they think of themselves as liberal or conservative? Are they involved and active in the community?
March 9: Religious and charitable activity. What percentage of residents attend religious services weekly? How many donate to charitable causes?
March 16: Where do we go from here?
March 23: What role do fraternal organizations play in a community? How healthy are memberships today?
Form a neighborhood/town wide outdoor activity group.
Start a monthly afternoon tea group.
Attend a parent/teacher meeting.
Give to the food bank.
Join a carpool.
Walk, bike or ride to support a cause.
Join the walkers at the mall and stay for coffee.
Support area merchants.
Volunteer in a classroom.
Start a fix-it group with friends who are willing to help clean or garden or paint and help them in return.
Stop to make sure the person on the side of the road is OK.
Host a block party or open house.
Invite friends over for a movie night.
Organizations are challenged to:
Host a blood drive.
Provide release time to employees for volunteering.
Form a fitness/health group with co-workers.
Have a barbecue for staff and neighbors.
Schedule get togethers with co-workers.
Invite school groups to have a field trip at your site.
Source: New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
Comments on this series are welcome by mail to Social Capital, Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 974, Brainerd, MN 56401 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.