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Opioids! We need a Reconstruction of Community

Posted on September 26, 2018
By Paul Born

rawpixel-550991-unsplashTwo words we most often hear together in the negative, “people are dying in our community from opioids or we have a “community opioid crisis.”

But today, in the Globe and Mail, I, for the first time, heard the call that to fight the opioid crisis we need not a war on drugs but a reconstruction of community. In her column on September 24,  Margaret Wente shares, “the writer Andrew Sullivan talks about pain and trauma too.

Most of our social institutions – the ones that used to offer solace, structure, friendship, and support – are under threat. The churches collapsed a generation ago. Families are in bad shape too, especially among middle – and lower-income earners, where marriage is on the wane and many kids grow up in households without both parents. Economic change hits some people hard. Communities disintegrate. We’re living in an age where faith, family and community – the pillars that we used to count on – are all eroding. That’s the biggest reason why this war on opioids will be so hard to win. It’s not a war we need but a reconstruction of community. And we have no idea how to do that.

Well Margaret we actually do!

Yesterday, I also had an intimate conversation - 400 people had signed up for the webinar on Creating Abundant Community in Neighbourhoods -  with the author of the book Abundant Communities, Peter Block. The interview was focused around how we might build abundant neighbourhoods. Peter shared three ideas:

  • Social capital becomes the real value – the more we connect the safer we feel, the less stress we have because we learn to rely on our neighbours.
  • Neighbourhoods have a job to do – and that is to connect us, to make us feel valuable and provide a space to exchange our gifts.
  • We ask people to identify their gifts. When we ask people what they are good at – something always gets produced. When we ask people, what is needed – something always will be given.

Peter shared that the work of building abundant communities provides the possibilities for peace. Possibilities for wholeness. Communities caring for one another combats our loneliness and is the antidote to the violence of opioids.

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Paul Born

By Paul Born

Paul Born grew up as the son of Mennonite refugees. This is what has made him deeply curious about and engaged in ideas that cause people to work together for the common good. Paul is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Tamarack Institute and the Founder and Director of Vibrant Communities. He is the author of four books, including two Canadian best sellers. Paul is a global faculty member of the Asset Based Community Development Institute (ABCD) and a senior fellow of Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social innovators.

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