The Foundation for Social Connection released a new report discussing evidence-based solutions to address the public health crisis of loneliness and isolation. It focuses on the crucial role of community planning, design, and policy-making processes in fostering social connectedness. With studies consistently demonstrating the significant health consequences of prolonged social disconnection, the report explores the intricate link between our physical environment and social well-being, aiming to guide the creation of resilient and thriving communities.

"When neighborhoods and community spaces are thoughtfully designed, they can serve both as a remedy to and a preventative measure against loneliness and social isolation,” said Jillian Racoosin Kornmeier, MPH, Executive Director of the Foundation for Social Connection. “Our report reveals practical strategies to improve social connection and well-being through community design.”

Developed with the leadership of co-chairs Risa Wilkerson, Executive Director of Healthy Places by Design, and Erin Peavey, Architect and Health & Well-being Design Leader at HKS, the report marks the fourth installment in the Foundation's SOCIAL Framework series. Additional guidance was provided by experts from the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Council, 8/80 Cities, the National Parks and Recreation Association, and the University of Minnesota.

"The places we inhabit - our homes, workplaces, schools, and recreational areas - have a significant influence on health outcomes and how connected we feel as a society. Yet, despite their profound impact, our built environment is often overlooked in discussions about health, ” emphasized Erin Peavey, Architect and Health & Well-being Design Leader at HKS. “This report serves as a valuable resource, equipping individuals with the knowledge and tools needed to promote genuine connection."

The report offers actionable insights and serves as a vital roadmap for policymakers, urban planners, architects, and community leaders. It offers evidence-based interventions spanning transportation, housing, and environmental sectors. Some of the suggested interventions include zoning reforms to enable shared or mixed-use housing, cultivating walkable neighborhoods, establishing vibrant third places conducive to social interactions, advancing broadband services to bridge digital divides, and more.

"Social disconnection is not a personal choice or individual problem, but one that is rooted in community design, social norms, and systemic injustices. The built environment offers powerful opportunities in both the creation and operation of places to prioritize and catalyze social connection. I encourage everyone who cares about this issue to read this report for real-world, community-focused strategies,” said Risa Wilkerson, Executive Director of Healthy Places by Design.