On August 14, 2003, over 500 generating units at 265 power plants shut down plunging much of the Eastern seaboard into darkness. The power outage lasted anywhere from two to seven days and affected over 55 million North Americans. As people adapted to a period without television, telephones and refrigerators, they came together in their communities to share support and resources.

It’s this social connectedness that The Generator Project hopes to emulate. Founded in 2016 by Pete Bombaci, the project aims to educate people on the importance of face-to-face connections and inspire them to reach out to friends and neighbours.

“Social connections make us happier and healthier in this increasingly distracted world that we live in,” says Bombaci. “And, The Generator Project is thrilled to be one of several activities intended to bring Canadians together from coast to coast during our 150th birthday.”

To foster these connections, The Generator Project hosts two Generator Weekends each year, with the next weekend happening May 5th to 7th. Interested participants are encouraged to reach out to friends and neighbours, plan an activity during the weekend that promotes in-person interactions and powering down devices, and register their plans on The Generator Project’s website. The activity can be as involved as a weekend-long block party or as simple as a wine and cheese night.  

“The coolest [project] for me, last year, was somebody who registered two people—them and their neighbour—having coffee. The message is so important: it can be about big street parties or community BBQs but when we talk about social connectedness it’s really quality over quantity,” says Bombaci.

And certainly the research supports the benefits of connecting face-to-face. Harvard’s Grant and Glueck Study tracked the emotional and physical well-being of over 700 participants from 1939 to 2014 and found that good relationships keep people healthier. A sense of belonging can keep the brain functioning properly as well as reduce emotional and physical pain.  So, instead of scrolling through pal’s Instagram feed, give them a call and make a plan to connect in person. It’s good for you.

To register your Generator Project or find out more about The Generator Weekend visit generatorproject.org.