On March 30, 2022

Searching for happiness?

Thursday, March 31 at 6-8 p.m. — RUTLAND — A new nonprofit in the region is hitting the ground running with its cornerstone social connection event, Gather Together, Thursday, March 31, 6-8 p.m., free at Taso’s Event Space at 28 Center St. in downtown Rutland.

Social Tinkering began work in January 2020, just before we were sent into quarantine. That might have stopped some people from starting a social club, but that didn’t stop Jeanette Langston, their founder and director. She rolled up her sleeves and published a website anyway, writing on topics around social isolation and belonging throughout the pandemic and starting the first annual Light Up Rutland holiday lights competition. The topic of social isolation is very familiar to us all now, but before that Langston had a hard time explaining what it is she wants to do for people. Langston said, “It is one good thing that came of the pandemic for Social Tinkering – the ability the explain social isolation and belonging in a way that’s easy to understand.”

Langston says that social isolation was a problem long before the pandemic hit us, causing problems in our society for probably hundreds of years, if not longer. Cigna, a global health services company, produced the U.S. Loneliness Index report in 2018. They found that “Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46%) or left out (47%).” And that “Only around half of Americans (53%) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.” (newsroom.cigna.com/loneliness-in-america) Happiness, belonging, and social isolation have been studied all over the world and 2022 marks the 10th year anniversary of the World Happiness Report, revealing “a bright light in dark times.” (worldhappiness.report)

Langston started this work because of her own experience with loneliness and isolation. She wants to help break down the barriers that prevent us all from prioritizing healthy social connection. She follows the social science research, and believes meaningful connections build belonging, the feeling that really makes us truly happy people. The research shows that healthier and happier people make for successful communities.

Gather Together is just one of many opportunities that Social Tinkering plans to offer the greater Rutland region. It is a way for people to simply get together in one place, meet other people, connect with friends, and grow social connection and belonging. It is a way to help each other build thriving communities.

Social Tinkering will be hosting Gather Together every month. It is a free event and everyone and all ages are welcome from all around Rutland County. They also facilitate an LGBTQ+ collaborative called Rutland Plus, and will be hosting monthly socials for this group starting in May. To learn more about their work, visit their website at socialtinkering.org and follow them on Facebook and Instagram @socialtinkering.

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