By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director
I can’t stop staring at The Villager front page. As we were putting the paper together, every time I passed by the proofing copy I stopped dead in my tracks. What is it about the faces that I find so captivating? I don’t personally know everyone on our front page, but still, every time I catch a glimpse I can’t suppress a grin.
I Googled that feeling and found that there is some hard science behind it. Personal connections are literally necessary for good health. Connected individuals have more positive health and social outcomes at all ages.
An MIT researcher found that babies are hardwired from birth to recognize faces. When newborns are shown a picture of three dots arranged as a face — two dots for eyes and one dot for a mouth– the babies look at it longer than they do when the dots were arranged in other ways. Babies will even be drawn to electrical outlets for the same reason! (Please don’t try this at home.)
So, I sit back and stare at this month’s front page of The Villager, and even though only 22 faces are smiling back at me, they represent hundreds of neighbors more right here, in our own backyard; neighbors with similar stories, residents and business owners alike, bringing similar gifts to our community.
I once traveled to Oakbrook to buy a fancy hat for a Kentucky Derby party, only to find out that the one hat that all the women at the party admired most came from a small shop a few blocks from my house. I had not been connected. There are over 700 businesses in Beverly/Morgan Park — that’s 700 more faces we can connect to the benefit of all our neighbors.
Looking at The Villager front page makes me proud of the work BAPA does creating community. The possibilities that exist when we connect person-to-person are endless. It’s a true case for showing up. Volunteer, attend neighborhood events, browse at local retail stores, meet friends and make friends at the local coffee shop.
You never know where the connection will lead you, but you will know, just like looking at the front page, it’s going to make you smile.