"They says it’s a phase, but a phase becomes a life"
April 20, 2019 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Toad, a 20-year-old Danish woman living in Copenhagen, has been lonely her whole life. She is autistic, and as a child, did not have any friends. When she moved from the country to the city, not much changed. “They says it’s a phase, but a phase becomes a life,” she says, surrounded by six other young adults in a cozy apartment in Copenhagen—all of whom are working on becoming less lonely. Toad is among the attendees of Ventilen, or “friend to one” in Danish, a 20-year-old organization set up to bring 15-to-25-year-olds together twice a week with two or three volunteers. Together, the people in the group play games, make meals, go to the cinema, and build the human connections that many feel they lack. (Jenny Anderson, Quartz)
posted by Johnny Wallflower (6 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
This makes me so sad. And so happy.
posted by evilDoug at 9:00 AM on April 20

Hell, some old people need this too.

It's difficult to find ways to socialize and connect where there's little or no embedded social ableism. Some folks can't/won't "graduate" to making close connections ... but it doesn't mean they can't have connection at all. Ventilen sounds like the kind of organization where people understand that.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 10:25 AM on April 20 [12 favorites]

This is relevant to my interests!

Firstly, because in the last few years I too became completely isolated, and had been living a monk-like existence with no contacts to other humans [except of my daughter].

More to the point, last week I decided to move back to Danmark, after living in the US for 35 years!

Heck - I'm a Danish citizen, after living there for 10 years during the 70's. I came to the states in 1984, and somehow stayed here, but for the longest time, I've been miserable: The politics, the materialism and now Trump. The last 3 years had been specially detrimental for my mental health. I was going mad.

It suddenly occurred to me that I can literally just pack up my bags & go back.

So you will probably find me volunteering for Ventilen in about 4 months.
posted by growabrain at 1:20 PM on April 20 [39 favorites]

This is intriguing. I've been toying with the idea, for a while, of starting a "Progressive Dinner," the idea of which would be to invite local progressives to my house one evening a month to socialize and eat a potluck and build community connections. My thinking was that, relaxing over food, in a family-friendly environment, that's open to all comers, would be a nice way to build community and to provide connections for people all up and down the age spectrum. Parents with young kids struggle to attend meetings (because kids), recent grads don't know many people in whatever area they end up in, almost everyone is starved for social connections (because capitalism). And people are more likely to go to meetings or events when they know some of the people who will be there. I figured I'd start with my local Indivisible, Democratic Socialists of America, and Climate Change Lobby. They share a lot in common but the groups seem to have only limited overlap, and I feel like it could really amplify political power if progressives active in different areas could get to know each other and turn out for each others' events.

Maybe this will kick me into actually trying it! Especially since summer is coming and I could host in the backyard and not have to clean my living room. Kids could run around wreaking havoc while everyone else eats and chats.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:41 PM on April 20 [15 favorites]

I would come to your potluck, Eyebrows McGee. It sounds amazing.

I wonder how an organization like this compares to something like Meetup. I really like that they focus on activity-oriented events. I find it so much easier to talk in awkward situations when I can do something at the same time.

I do kind of wonder about the vetting briefly mentioned in the article.
posted by bunderful at 5:54 AM on April 21

I often think that many people who participate in my local community theater (which I've been a part of for over 25 years now) may have less interest in theater and more interest in a structured way to meet people and have something in common to talk about. And for that, I think it's great! I'm all for anything that will help connect people in ways that are constructive and helpful.
posted by xingcat at 6:57 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]

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