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Why Invest in Social Infrastructure?

The Sarnia Journal has partnered with the nuSarnia Foundation to feature a series of stories promoting active transportation and community wellness.

The essence of any city is a direct outcome of deliberate planning and design choices, shaped by the type of infrastructure it invests in. Cities dominated by the impersonal flow of traffic are the product of design priorities favouring vehicular movement. On the other hand, cities thriving with human vitality emerge when investments focus on social infrastructure — a framework that champions the movement, visibility, and interactions of individuals.

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Social infrastructure serves as the transformative element that elevates cities from mere conglomerations of buildings and roads to communities that inspire care. It is precisely this type of infrastructure investment that our cities urgently require.

While social infrastructure is sometimes regarded as the "icing on the cake" of a thriving city, it's time to recognize and prioritize it as a fundamental investment. Here are three compelling reasons why:

Enhanced Public Sphere: Social infrastructure contributes to a safe and inviting public sphere, fostering amiable coexistence. It facilitates the formation of loose ties between strangers, cultivating trust, collaboration, and peace within a community.

Leisure and Relaxation: Robust social infrastructure allows a city to adopt a leisurely and relaxed atmosphere, achieved through the provision of ample green spaces, plazas, and public areas.

Safe Coexistence with Strangers: Humans are inherently social beings, and while familiarity is preferred, we also need spaces that enable us to safely exist around strangers. These spaces provide an opportunity for sociality without the pressure to engage, fostering positive exposure and interactions across diverse groups based on socioeconomics, race, age, or gender.

Investing in social infrastructure is not merely a financial consideration; it's about cultivating a more profound and vibrant vision of human flourishing within the city. For too long, the American notion of a successful city has focused on connecting consumers from the privacy of their homes to the realms of work and consumption, epitomized by the strip mall. While these spheres are essential, they alone cannot sustain true public life. As social beings, we need spaces in our neighbourhoods, towns, and cities that remind us that, at the end of the day, what matters most are not the transactions shaping our lives, but the connections and relationships with the people around us.

nuSarnia is a passionate group of social entrepreneurs committed to making Sarnia the best it can be – a vibrant, lively city where people are excited to live, work, play and learn. We are committed to raising awareness, sharing knowledge, acquiring wisdom, fostering collaboration and attentively listing to create a more connected, active and healthy community.

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