NEW HAVEN–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) last week hosted the inaugural Creating Community Summit which convened non-profit leaders, state and local officials, community organizers, and other stakeholders for a conversation on the crisis of loneliness and social isolation and how Connecticut can work together to build connection. Bishop William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and founder of Yale Divinity School’s Center for Public Theology and Public Policy, delivered a keynote address, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy provided virtual remarks, and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, head of Connecticut’s social connection campaign, also addressed the audience. The half-day event also featured two panel discussions on how social isolation impacts young adults and how we can build healthy downtowns and third places. Panelists included representatives from libraries, non-profits, a local running club, community organizations and more.

News 8 - New Haven summit hopes to end loneliness

By Kent Pierce

[…] Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called the Creating Community Summit as a way to approach what he said is an epidemic of isolation.

“You see it in rising rates of self-harm, rising rates of addiction, rising rates of violence against other, rising rates of political instability,” Murphy said.

A big reason for that, advocates said, is social media, because people spend so much time by themselves scrolling through their screens. Studies show young people, especially, spend half the time they used to with other people.

“Ultimately, what loneliness does is it steals your hope,” said Bishop William Barber, the co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.

He gave the keynote speech and said that Jesus Christ preached that poverty itself can be lonely.

“To say to the poor among us: You are welcome, we are going to stand with you, we’re not going let society to continue to isolate you,” Barber said.

Another way Barber said we could deal with isolation as a country is to stop choosing to isolate ourselves. In other words, separating the country into “us” and “them.”

“At some point, people feel lonely because social injustice creates social isolation,” Barber said.

Whatever the reason, the summit hopes to start the process of fixing it.

“We can make a choice to build stronger communities,” Murphy said, “to help people come out of the cycle of withdrawal and isolation.”

WSHU - Summit looks for ways to bring CT together to overcome loneliness

By Molly Ingram

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) hosted the inaugural Creating Community Summit in New Haven on Tuesday.

It’s part of his campaign against loneliness, which he has touted as a public health crisis for over a year.

The CDC declared loneliness a public health epidemic after the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said rising rates of self-harm, addiction and violence are caused by social isolation, but it’s an issue that can be solved with stronger communities.

“We can make a choice to build stronger communities to help people come out of this cycle of withdrawal and isolation,” Murphy said. “And if we do so, it may simply be just as important as the work that we do in building economic power.”

Barber spoke about the connection between social injustice and social isolation.

“If you add the number of poor and low-income voters that didn't vote, it is 4 million. But why would people not vote? Is it voter suppression? Well, yes, but that's not the only reason. It's that nobody talks to them,” Barber said. “I've heard it out in the mountains of East Kentucky. I’ve heard it in the urban setup. People feel alone and isolated.”

Murphy admitted that the issue isn’t necessarily what one would expect a U.S. senator to focus on. But according to Barber, that makes it meaningful for lonely Americans.

“No matter how broken people are, their souls do have ears. And they can hear that someone cares, they can see their senator fighting for them, and they can see somebody trying to make a difference, and pull us together,” Barber said.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who provided virtual remarks, said he believes tackling loneliness is one of the most pressing issues of our time. He credited Murphy for drawing attention to the issue of loneliness.

New Haven Independent - Barber’s Loneliness RX: Start With Poverty

By Tom Breen

[…] U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy organized the morning-long gathering as part of his sustained public push to draw attention to what he sees as one of the most urgent problems facing our nation: that of loneliness, isolation and despair.

Such a fraying of connections and relationships all too often leads to real problems, personal and public alike, Murphy told the NXTHVN crowd of roughly 100 politicians, nonprofit leaders, and community organizers from across New Haven and Connecticut. 

Addiction, self-harm, violence towards others, political apathy and extremism seem to follow in the wake of ?“this crisis of connection, this crisis of identity and meaning that we see all across the country,” Murphy said.

Finding a way to ?“help people come out of this cycle of withdrawal and isolation” might prove to be even more effective than just ?“economic empowerment” at addressing some of the most deeply embedded problems in America today, he proposed. 

The rest of Murphy’s opening address and subsequent panels he moderated during the summit touched on how Americans don’t belong to churches and unions in the ways that they used to; how smart phones pull young people’s eyes downward and stunt their development of social skills; how parents who need to work multiple jobs to make ends meet simply don’t have time to take their kids to sports practices and other extracurricular activities; how communities needs to cultivate ?“third spaces” outside of work and home that foster human connection.