Connected Communities Live Healthier, Happier and Longer
by David Caswell
If there was a simple solution to living longer, healthier lives most people would go after it. In his book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell identified a unique population of Italian migrants that did exactly this. These migrants to America, in the 1960’s, lived longer lives, with less health concerns than neighbouring populations (and their relatives) living in similar environmental conditions. This group of individuals was studied intensely to identify just how they did it and the research could find only one explanation, community or “extended family.” The isolated population of Rosetan’s were connected, they knew those that lived and worked around them well and shared life with each other, in person (Gladwell, 2008). This display of community is very different from the digital world we live in today.
Building and connecting into communities around us normally happens based on a central theme or activity, such as work, sport and personal interests but we are often disconnected from those geographically closest to us, our neighbours. What impact would it have if you could meet your neighbours around a common interest, activity or green space like an edible verge/footpath garden or a community garden near you (Search up “ Verge Garden Buderim”)? What impact would it have on your neighbourly relationships if you planted a passionfruit vine and shared the spoils or if you put in a few extra tomato plants and shared the overflow with people in your street?
According to Gladwell and the team of researchers that followed the Rosetan population, developing community and being connected to those around you can positively impact your health and increase your lifespan. In every community the possibilities are endless and the platform for a healthy connected community starts with you. Whether it’s gardening, walking or even just popping next door to get to know your neighbours, be part of your community. Live healthier, live longer and live connected to others.
David Caswell runs a local service called The Vegetable Gardener which helps people establish their own edible gardens. He’s also passionate about seeing his community connect while working the soil together. www.thevegetablegardener.com.au
 Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers. New York, NY: Little Brown and Company