Alone Together: Connecting in the City
Vancouver may often be cited as one of the most livable cities in the world, but it seems residents feel an increasing sense of isolation and disconnection. A recent study by the Vancouver Foundation reveals that many people find it hard to make friends here and that people are “retreating from community life.”
SFU Public Square is launching its first community summit in response to these growing feelings of loneliness. Alone Together: Connecting in the City will “explore civic isolation and disconnection in the cities of Metro Vancouver, and consider how we can come together to strengthen engagement and connection across community and cultural ties.”
SFU Public Square Executive Director Shauna Sylvester told the Georgia Straight in an interview:
“We don’t have public spaces anymore where people come together across class, across age, across all lines,” she adds. “We have libraries and community centres, and during the Olympics we had some public spaces. But there’s resurgence in this region to want that. There’s a gurgling up of people saying: ‘We want more intellectual engagement; we want to exchange ideas and we want a place and a space where we can substantively collect.’ The summit is a response to that.”
Running from September 18–23, the summit features a host of events designed to explore urban isolation together and come up with ways to take action. Opening Night at the Orpheum has SFU Chancellor Carole Taylor, international award-winning urban planner Larry Beasley, author and CBC Radio host, Nora Young, and other civic influencers guiding a discussion about overcoming isolation and disconnection in the urban environment. Other events include Our Voices: Youth Building a Connected City, Big Ideas for Libraries in Communities, Creating a Connected City: The Role of Business, City Conversations: Lonely in Vancouver, Urban Conspiracy Cabaret, Mayor’s Roundtable, Rain City Chronicles: Extra Ordinary, and the Alone Together Film Festival.