Prioritising Community in Disconnected Times
The past twelve months have been hard on Hong Kong. Our city is feeling the effects of things that WELL, we all know about and don’t need to mention right now. This article isn’t another piece on those things. This article is about how WELL, contributor, Adele Leung, has started a new series of community events for creatives and other individuals in Hong Kong. In this article, we spoke with Adele about connection, loneliness, and the steps we can take to stay strong, together.
Tell us about the events
Adele: Well, the events are new and seek to serve Hong Kong. We started them based upon the challenges that started last year as a result of the protests. People started staying home; businesses suffered, connections dwindled. In 2020, coronavirus added to this disconnection. Whilst very understandable, we (Leung’s husband) became concerned about the city’s creatives and their mental health. We wanted to create a safe and fun space for community events under a non-profit model. So here we are.
Who attended the first event?
Adele: Mostly our friends and colleagues, to be honest. Which reminded me of how valuable those connections are. As business people, creatives, and entrepreneurs, many of us seek curated events without first mining our personal networks. As an example, we contacted a friend and studio owner to rent his space for our first party. And for our upcoming White Day party we contacted a primary and secondary school friend to host at her amazing Italian restaurant with a bespoke menu. They say everyone is only six degrees of separation apart, in Hong Kong maybe just one or two? The event removed some of those links out and invited people to come together, not just for a gala dinner, business networking, brand launch or the other standard reasons, but for connection.
“As business people, creatives, and entrepreneurs, many of us seek curated networking events without first mining our personal networks.”
How did you get people on-board?
Adele: Okay, so we are aware that we’re asking people to come attend events in a time that they’re cautious about even seeing their friends. What we’re trying to advocate here is that we can make opportunity out of challenge. Yes, things are hard – but perhaps we can use the quiet as an opportunity to come together in a way we’d never usually have time to even entertain. The feedback was positive, even from those that were hyper-adverse to joining a “party full of strangers” alone. One guest said, “Great soirée at the sustainable party with zero emotional waste organized by beautiful Adele Liu. What was strange (in a good way!) is that I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all even I didn’t know the guests. I didn’t feel embarrassed. Strange but nice. This is something very important. No waste of emotion required, and mission was accomplished.”
What do you think is the secret to connection?
Adele: Nothing complex, just honesty with yourself about what you need. Try to avoid the urge to be insular or make pre-judgements. Be aware of your needs and reach out.
Why is connection important?
Adele: Being connected is the most natural feeling of all. Connection does not mean we have to run around and know a village of people, rather it starts with nurturing space and gentleness with ourselves. For me, I sit with myself, breathe or exercise gently and the feeling comes. It always starts with self-acceptance.
Any extreme emotion including elation, excitement, desire, anger, fear, sadness and others are all states of disconnection. That’s a big ouch to accept; or at least it was for me. Feelings are super important to be aware of, but emotion is just noise. Pretty harming noise.
“Being connected is the most natural feeling of all.”
What do you think of Hong Kong as a destination to find love?
Adele: Connection is the bridge to love. We can’t start truly feeling love without connection. So, if we embrace connection by finding our people, supporting them, actively participating in things we care about, Hong Kong is just as awesome as any other place for love.
Tell us what’s important to you and why you decided to move into events
Adele: I’ve always been very sensitive from a young age. My time in the fashion industry, as I have shared in my earlier articles at WELL, made me feel disconnected, overwhelmed, and like there was a lack of love. It felt for years like hectic swimming to keep my head above water; too busy, too preoccupied, too surface. After years of reflection, I have decided to not take a victimised stance and blame Hong Kong as a place lacking connection. I take accountability for creating my own connections. As soon as I started aligning my work and my life with that action, I knew I was headed in the right direction. I want others to experience the same relief from the loneliness that can easily happen in big cities, like Hong Kong.