This locally created app reminds us ‘how we’re supposed to live’

Real-world connections without all the negativity

Many of us are caught in a spiral of loneliness, social media toxicity, and an aversity to asking for help when we need it.

Now, there’s a locally developed app - minus all the negative clutter- that brings people together through asks, offers and events, and it’s already being embraced by a municipality in Alberta.

It’s called The Village App, with the tag line: Less Likes, More Life, that taps into a demand the creators feel has become more apparent in recent years.

Epidemic of loneliness

“We want to connect people in real life, to get people off the computer and not be stuck in a squirrel hole,” co-founder Ashley Stone, told Kelowna 10.

“We know there’s an epidemic of loneliness that is affecting our mental and physical wellbeing. Despite being more connected than ever, we’re actually more disconnected than ever,” she said, noting traditional digital platforms create a divide by giving a platform for negativity to grow.

The app does not have a comment section or ‘likes’ and offers users what Stone refers to as only positive interactions.

Since launching, she and co-founder Karen Olsson have refocused from connecting only individuals to collaborating with local nonprofit organizations. By fostering intention-based connections, she said the app empowers users to build stronger social ties, support networks, and allows for service coordination within communities.

For Stone it’s not just the toxic drain of social media that weighs on many of us. It’s a cultural problem too.

This is how we’re supposed to live

“There’s definitely a stigma in North America about asking for help, “she said. When she had her surprise third pregnancy with twins recently, she was forced to ask for help.

“I wasn’t in a position to be polite about asking for help; I had to, and it pushed me through this invisible threshold of being able to ask for help more easily,” the Kelowna mom of four and public health nurse for the last 14 years explained.

“I came out on the other side realizing this is how we’re supposed to live, and this is where we belong, together with each other.”

The app offers three key elements: a ‘friend-finder’, so you can explore other people in your local community, a way to explore local organizations, and a method of inviting your own circle of friends and to categorize them.

Their technology has now been taken up by a rural municipality in Alberta who are using it to connect newcomers with services, build a sense of belonging, and ultimately help with resident retention.

Stone said the technology, which currently employs four people locally, is making in-roads in other Canadian municipalities, including the Okanagan, and the aim is to get more people off the toxic virtual reality and into the realm of positive interconnectedness.

“In my work in public heath I had a mom from Venezuela that said she would have 30 people in and out of her house [back home] to help with her baby, but here she has nobody and she’s struggling,” she said.

“Community is so important, it’s the foundation of our wellbeing.”

Details about the app can be found here.

Published 2023-06-13 by Glenn Hicks

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