December 10, 2023

Strengthening town bonds with the power of community togetherness

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High levels of community engagement are a hallmark of healthy, happy societies. Recent research shows that strong social bonds can reduce the risk of anxiety and depression, improve general well-being, and boost resiliency.

Community bonds can also help people heal. For example, the recent “Reparations and Racial Healing Study Tour” announced in Bridgetown, Barbados brought people together from across the globe to discuss reparations, healing, and the Pan-African community. 

Strengthening town bonds with community togetherness needn’t break the bank, either. Community cooking workshops and backyard gatherings are cheap, easy to organize, and help folks feel like a part of their local town. 

Cooking Workshops

Nothing brings people together like a well-made meal. Serving up a hot dinner or barbecue to friends is a great way to bond over food while sharing secret recipes. Good food has a positive impact on the community, too. Food gives us a chance to represent ourselves and the culture we are a part of. The aroma of spices and sauces gives many people a sense of identity and recognition. 

Leaning into people’s love for cooking can empower community bonds, too. Educational classes can highlight regional specialties and community collaboration can improve cultural representation. This can even improve food literacy, which ensures that everyone in the town knows how to plate up a tasty dish for their own family. 

Community cookouts can give people a chance to meet and discuss their differences in a safe environment. Folks are far more likely to find common ground when they’re cooking for each other, and many may find it easier to talk through differences over a platter of coconut shrimp and jerk chicken. 


Gardens are many people’s pride and joy. Tending a garden is both relaxing and rewarding, as nothing can beat the smell of fresh-cut grass or roses in bloom. In Puerto Rico, First Lady Wilma Pastrana Jiménez is putting the healing properties of gardening to the test by opening a series of community gardens. 

Planting a vegetable garden can strengthen communities and improve resilience, too. Jiménez explains that “We import over 80 percent of what we consume,” and that the Caribbean has had food security issues for some time. A simple vegetable patch can teach people how to tend their own land and may empower some to start their own allotments. 

Opening community gardens can give people a place to relax, too. This is particularly important today, as many communities face a healthcare crisis. A community garden cannot replace a well-staffed hospital, but it may be able to help some people manage symptoms related to depression and anxiety.  

Mental Health Events

Strong communities know how to support one another. Many folks intuitively know how to support their neighbors and can provide care should their friends and family fall ill. Folks who are interested in finding ways to support mental health in the community should pursue further training as a psychological first-aider. 

Psychological first-aid training can be particularly helpful following a disaster. Folks who are trained to help following a weather event or wildfire can reduce the initial distress and put people in touch with important resources. 

Communities can provide psychological care by raising funds for seminars, panel discussions, and group meetings. Inviting well-informed guest speakers can give folks the tools they need to care for one another and can improve mental health literacy in the community. This helps folks feel supported by their town and can be a catalyst for other community-engagement events. 

Climate Change

The Caribbean is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Rising sea temperatures may result in more extreme weather events and undermine entire ecosystems. It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of global warming, too, as international cooperation is necessary to combat rising temperatures. 

Townspeople can come together in the fight against climate change by hosting community clean-ups and awareness-raising reports. Educating the community may even have an impact on governmental policy. Cayman Islands residents were recently able to give feedback on the Cayman Islands Climate Change Policy 2023-2040. This will help the islands become more resilient and can increase the strength of community bonds during a crisis. 

Folks who want to take a hands-on approach can create volunteer systems to combat climate change. Effective volunteer groups start at the community level by asking residents “What are you trying to achieve?” This helps local people identify a relevant mission statement and can improve recruitment in the community. Over time, this will create a new generation of leaders who are ready to represent the needs of the community to the higher levels of government. 


Strong community bonds are essential for the health and well-being of townspeople. Even simple engagement events, like hosting a community cookout, can bring people together and boost well-being. Folks who feel like part of a community are less likely to be depressed and more likely to take up leadership positions. This can help residents build more resilient societies and help folks feel represented. 

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