cover image On Belonging: Finding Connection in an Age of Isolation

On Belonging: Finding Connection in an Age of Isolation

Kim Samuel. Abrams, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4197-5303-9

Samuel, the founder of the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness, debuts with an innovative program for fostering community. She explores what it means to belong and argues that readers should strive to bring “principles of wholeness and connectedness into the realms of public policy, urban planning, education, healthcare, and community organizing.” The author identifies people, place, power, and purpose as the “four dimensions of belonging” and interviews a Mi’kmaq elder in Canada who notes that having a sense of place nurtures a feeling of responsibility toward one’s environment. Analyzing the theme of reciprocity in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s medieval poem about Parzival and the Grail quest, Samuel outlines the “three core principles” of compassion: accepting difference in others, fostering connectedness with those different from oneself, and holding “everyone’s life in high regard.” She examines cultures that have successfully created a sense of belonging and details her trip to the Japanese village of Ōgimi, the residents of which live remarkably long and healthy lives while possessing “a strong sense of connectedness, rootedness in the natural world, self-reliance, and ongoing life purpose.” The author’s interviews with a diverse roster of interlocutors, including Syrian refugee Nujeen Mustafa and London architect Dominic Richards, offer captivating profiles of what connection and community look like in action and effectively model the kind of cross-cultural relationships she encourages readers to develop. This compassionate journalistic treatise on building more inclusive communities hits the mark. (Sept.)