Social cohesion is the bonds that hold society together, usually through common values, beliefs and behaviors. It can be seen through cooperation by different community groups especially when working toward something that benefits the community at large. On the individual level it is expressed in how much an individual feels his behavior/work can influence the neighborhood/community around him as well as being recognized and appreciated for his work.
This sense of cohesion can come from participating in neighborhood groups, churches, running for political office, registering to vote and voting or being a volunteer. It means an individual can take their concerns to a body and know that they'll be listened to and respected. It creates protective factors for children as their families are more connected with public schools.
Two groups that are experiencing success organizing their neighborhoods include the Highlands Neighborhood Association and the South Kelso Neighborhood Association. Taking the concerns and needs of their neighbors, they’re able to organize activities and projects to meet those needs and support the individual family. In South Kelso the work of the Community Health Advocates is providing a different support for the neighborhood by taking neighborhood concerns on marijuana use by youth and immigration issues and connecting these families to support resources.
When we look at neighborhoods in Cowlitz County there are issues of concern. County residents
also face higher levels of domestic violence and child abuse and neglect than the State of Washington average. Successful programs like the Emergency Sporting Shelter provide both resident counseling as well as support the battered family. The cycle of violence, however, strains community resources, law enforcement and the courts, and the health and well-being of the community.
Participation in the community through voting provides an interesting paradox. On average, Cowlitz County does a better job than other communities in registering people to vote. On the other hand, Cowlitz County has one of the lowest rates, in the state, of those registered voters who actually vote.
- Join a parent/school activity
- Support efforts for social justice and health equity
- Discourage discrimination at all levels
- Support Love INC
- Participate and attend local cultural and community events
- Reach out to neighbors to reduce isolation
- Register to vote and vote
- Offer best practices parent education programs
- Build neighborhood coalitions to address problem solving and safety
- Encourage healthy lifestyles Support Block Watch programs throughout the county
- Ensure community activities are inclusive and accessible
- Celebrate diversity
- Reduce homelessness with expansion of public/private housing
- Fund suicide prevention programs
- Fund parenting skills programs to increase bonding and school readiness
- Ensure adequate funding and accessibility for behavioral health and substance abuse
- Include low-income, ethnically diverse, and neighborhood residents in advisory and policy making groups