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Social Connection is Medicine

This morning as I drove into work I listened to House Calls, a podcast hosted by the US Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy.  I am a big fan of our Surgeon General and his podcast, but found this episode particularly intriguing because it was a conversation with two Broadway actors.  I will leave it to you to listen to their discussion of friendships and mental health, but will share a sentence I made sure to write down for further contemplation.  “Social connection is medicine.”

When I think about what draws me to the arts, one of the strongest reasons is the social connection.  As a theater kid (and adult), there was nothing like the feeling of being in a group working towards the common goal of a successful show.  The bittersweet joy and sorrow of walking away from a cast party knowing the time spent together at rehearsals and performances had come to an end.  A few years back I started a writing group with a friend from elementary school.  We all got together to write and share information about editing, publishing, and promoting our work.  But the real pleasure was gathering around a large table each week to share coffee, laughter, and stories of what was going on in our lives.  We came together with a shared interest in our art, a desire to make that art but left those spaces with a sense of belonging and not being alone in the world.

One of our goals with the Fitchburg Cultural Alliance is to build our creative community through social connection.  This is a way we can bring together people who share an interest and passion for the arts, but also a way we can build that sense of belonging and friendship amongst our members and supporters.

This happens once a month at Main Street Studios with Broadway Karaoke.  On a Friday evening each month, we have a group of performers join us to sing a favorite showtune as well as several people who enjoy just listening and being in the audience.  It is an opportunity to take a chance in front of a supportive group as well as hear songs that don’t often get performed on local stages.   

If Broadway isn’t your thing but you want to find a way to connect with other local creatives, I hope you will join us at a member meet up.  Starting in June, we will invite our members and anyone interested in learning about the FCA to join us on the second Wednesday of the month. Find a kindred spirit who shares a passion for local culture.  Our first meet up will be at Saima Park on Wednesday, June 12 from 4-6pm.  You can learn more about Saima Park and the Finnish history of Fitchburg, as well as hear some live music from the Fitchburg State Community Orchestra.  Future gatherings will take place at our other member locations, as well as our own.  Sometimes we will just invite you to come join us for a cup of coffee and some conversation.

But back to the idea of social connection as medicine.  It makes us feel good to connect with other people.  In 2023, the Surgeon General issued an advisory about the loneliness epidemic.  Being more social helps us manage stress and anxiety, sleep better, as well as improve habits that will lead to a longer life.  And all that leads to a greater appreciation for life and how we can relate better within our community. 

There are a lot of opportunities to connect, but if you like the arts I hope you will consider joining us at the Fitchburg Cultural Alliance, where you can be well and be creative.

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