Loneliness & Cities
I’ve been knocking on doors throughout Ward 1 and having great conversations with many people. These encounters, however brief, confirm some things and teach me new things. I’d like to share some of these experiences to highlight what the door knocking might reveal about our neighbours, our city, and our circumstances.
I’ve met many elderly women at the door. Often, English is their second language. They live alone or with a family member. They tell me the heat keeps them indoors. Or something else keeps them indoors but they don’t elaborate. Either because they don’t know or they don’t wish to say. I respect their privacy and their pride but I wonder how long it has been since they were outside and since they last chatted with a friend or neighbour. They promise to pass along my campaign material to their son or their husband. In their minds, their experiences and their voices don’t seem to matter. I think of these older women at night while my brain is reviewing the experiences of the day.
I have written quite a bit about loneliness, health and cities. Social isolation is as deadly as many of the diseases we know about today.
These conversations have also confirmed for me that an intentional gender and public health lens is important to city building. When we (re)design our cities, our public programs, our transit and our housing choices we must look for and give voice to the experiences of all our neighbours