‘Join Or Die’ screening, discussion to take place Tuesday at Forbes Library

Forbes Library building in Northampton

Forbes Library building in Northampton gazette file photo

By ALEXA LEWIS

Staff Writer

Published: 06-14-2024 4:34 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Loneliness impacts everyone, but the cure could be as simple as joining a local organization.

Trauma-Informed Hampshire County will host a screening of “Join Or Die,” a film chronicling the work of renowned social scientist Robert Putnam and his eye-opening work about the importance of community engagement in our civic and personal lives, on Tuesday night at Forbes Library from 5 to 7 p.m.

Trauma-Informed Hampshire County is a program by the Western Massachusetts Training Consortium, with a mission to promote systemic healing in Hampshire County by addressing trauma through education, advocacy, policy and resource sharing. The organization chose to screen “Join Or Die” because of the powerful message it conveys about the detrimental impacts of loneliness, and how we as a society can begin to heal.

“There’s actually a lot of overlap between loneliness and the decline of public engagement with trauma,” said Ruth Ever, program director for Trauma-Informed Hampshire County. “We’ve all experienced loneliness at some point in our lives.”

The award-winning documentary follows the unraveling of civic engagement in the United States over a half-century through the lens of Putnam’s groundbreaking research. Putnam, whose book “Bowling Alone” transformed understanding of community engagement and civic health, explains the link between a steep decline in interpersonal engagement and the present democratic crisis the United States finds itself struggling with.

In addition, the film provides valuable insight on the nature of loneliness, and the fundamental need for humankind to connect with one another and engage with our communities in meaningful ways. It attempts to show that feelings of isolation and disconnection are natural, and easily ameliorated.

“When people are engaged in their communities, they’re invested in their government and their lives,” said Ever.

The film features commentary from notable public figures such as Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Raj Chetty, Pete Buttigieg, and Hilary Rodham Clinton.

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Following the screening, there will be a discussion session designed to cultivate authentic, engaging discourse on the issues raised in the documentary. This post-film discussion will be hosted by Molly Keehn, who is the co-creator of CoJourn, a peer support and accountability framework that works to help build social connection in communities and aid individuals in taking meaningful steps toward their goals.

The event is made possible by sponsors including The Food Policy Council, CSO, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, The Hampshire Franklin Tobacco-free Community Partnership, CoJourn, and The Western Massachusetts Training Consortium.

The event is free and open to the public, and snacks will be provided. Those interested are encouraged to register ahead of time at wmtcinfo.kindful.com/e/tihc-film-screening-discussion-join-or-die-. All community members are invited to take this opportunity to learn and connect with others.

Alexa Lewis can be reached at alewis@gazettenet.com or on Instagram and Twitter at @alexamlewis.