Rediscovering the Power of Community

2020. The year of the COVID-19 pandemic. A year so many of us couldn’t wait to be over.  A year that changed our lives.

It’s a rare occurrence for the entire world to share a common experience. However, regardless of where we lived in 2020, we were all most certainly affected by the coronavirus. Though each country, and even each individual state and city in the U.S., had their own methods of handling the pandemic, a universal tactic seemed to be some form of social isolation.

And it’s a theme that has stuck around. Now over three years after the virus’s initial outbreak and subsequent lockdowns, isolation remains a common thread though its focus has shifted. The concerns  are now more in regards to the adverse psychological effects the prolonged isolation had, and is still having, on many of us. Statistics are showing that rates of depression, loneliness, and mental illness in both children and adults have increased since the beginning of the pandemic.

So often during times of disaster and distress, whether personal or communal, we hear and speak of how such events brought people closer; about how communities came together and friends and strangers showed up for one another. Here in the Florida Keys, we often experience this after a hurricane. Undesirable events tend to remind us of the power and importance of community.

Of course, we don’t need tragedy to feel the benefits of being part of a social network or community, but if 2020 has shown us anything, it is just how impactful they truly are.

Having strong and close connections with others provides support, stability, and accountability. It offers a sense of connectedness and belonging, and can help us find purpose and feel grounded. We may experience more laughter and a relief of stress when we interact with others who are like minded or close to us. Such intimate connections not only enhance us emotionally, but also benefit our physical wellbeing.

Interestingly, there happen to be five distinct locations in the world, known as Blue Zones, where the area’s community members are living significantly longer and healthier lives than anywhere else on Earth and interconnectedness plays a key role. There are several factors that contribute to the distinguished health and longevity of these populations. According to Blue Zones researcher Dan Buettner, among those are having a sense of purpose and belonging, keeping family and loved ones close, and being part of a community.

Other contributing factors he cites are having routines that ease stress, moving naturally (i.e. walking), drinking moderate amounts of wine at dinner with friends, consuming a mostly plant-based diet, and filling up to only 80% full when eating.

The folks living in these regions are very interconnected; they live together, dine together, work and laugh together. They depend on each other physically and emotionally, and greatly benefit from their strong community connections. They are living proof of just how profound the impacts we have in each other’s lives can be.

Now, in the latter part of 2023, thankfully much has gotten back to normal since the start of the pandemic. Kids are back in school, interacting with their peers and developing crucial social skills. We can go out for dinner and a movie, attend concerts, birthday parties, and wedding celebrations again as we used to. We are able to be face-to-face and see each other’s smiles in person.

There has also been a shift to what we’ve referred to as a “new normal”. Many of us are still working from home and will continue to do so. We can now do most everything remotely, online, and through our phones like ordering groceries and having them delivered to our door, depositing checks into our bank accounts, and even attending museums virtually. While changes like these might be more efficient and convenient for some, they also limit our social interactions. On the heels of being socially distanced and isolated for so long, we might not easily notice the impacts that certain new norms may be having on our wellbeing.

It is important to be curious about how our altered habits affect our quality of life. Perhaps when taking more notice we discover that some of these changes are contributing to feelings of loneliness or disengagement. If we transitioned to working from home, we are likely not getting as much social interaction as we had while in the workplace. Even the smaller shifts, such as ordering groceries online or banking from our phones, can eventually add up to significant decreases in regular social interaction. It’s also possible that we’ve just gotten used to getting together less and haven’t been making as much of a priority to gather as we once did. 

Wherever you find yourself standing socially post-COVID, we invite you to spend more time with us at The Green Pineapple!

We are more than just a boutique and cafe; we’re a vibrant hub where connections thrive. We foster togetherness and embrace community. We’re a place to shop with friends, a place to enjoy a coffee and a pastry while working remotely, a place to have a business lunch with an associate, a place to pick up dinner and a bottle of wine to share with your family. We encourage you to join us at our cafe daily as well as at our upcoming events. We offer ongoing opportunities to gather and connect through our wine tastings, farm to table dinners, sip and shops, and more.

As we continue adapting to new norms, may we all be inspired by the distinguished quality of life of those in the Blue Zones and strive to integrate more of their ways of living into our own lives, together.