Connecting with others is a fundamental part of human existence; from a friendly nod to
someone you barely know, to lifelong friendships formed in our earlier years. Without social
connection we can end up feeling isolated, resulting in a range of negative effects on our
lives. Social connections are therefore vitally important to us all, but far too often we don’t
take the time to explore the situations that can help create and sustain them.
There are many highly effective formal services and projects seeking to bring people
together and create social networks. This paper, Incidental Connections, is primarily interested in those ‘platforms’ -
events, groups, activities and/or spaces - at the other end of the spectrum: those that are
not explicitly aimed at connecting people but do so anyway. Community Links often use the
school gates to illustrate this idea. People primarily use this space to drop-off or pick-up
their children, but the connections that occur can result in lasting and valuable friendships.
This paper seeks to answer the following questions:
- What, if any, characteristics do these platforms share?
- Why and how are they valuable to those who participate in them?How can we encourage them to flourish without negating their incidental nature?