Duing his freshman year at college my son, Caleb, started an activity he affectionately called “Elevator Time with Caleb.” This was in response to his casual observation that everyone seemed to be suffering from loneliness. He lived on the fifth floor of his dorm and whenever possible, he would simply ride the elevator up and down engaging residents with conversation, thoughtful questions, and a smile. In a matter of weeks, he found himself connected to most of the dorm inhabitants and happy to have turned the oft-isolated experience of riding the elevator into an experience of community.
In spite of his youth, he seemed to be on to something bigger. Regardless of our housing arrangement, we are increasingly living in isolation and its not good for us. Vivek Murthy, the former U.S. Surgeon General, has called isolation the most common health issue in the country. We are dying earlier because of isolation!
In the multifamily housing industry, we have the opportunity (obligation?) to create spaces for connection. This is more nuanced than we’ve seen in the past. With the convenience of handling online applications, payments, service request, and reviews we’ve often assumed that our residents are fine without personal interactions. Social science disagrees. While we enjoy certain tasks to be completed without having to leave our homes, we are no less dependent on community for emotional health. Now, more than ever, we need to be pioneers of creative connection across cultures, ages, personalities and the rest.
How are you addressing the tension of online vs. face-to-face interaction?