Much research has been conducted on the positive influence of a good social network. In a nutshell, good friends are much more important to happiness than money, and even promote longevity. That is also one of the big messages we took away from our recent trip to Alaska.
We spoke to many non-indigenous people who had chosen to come live in this unforgiving territory for the love of nature and the majestic outdoors. Distances are enormous, the state is sparsely populated, it's nature over culture, and winters can be dark and lonely. Yet, the common thread in our conversations was community. Time and again people said that one of the reasons they loved living in Alaska was the strong sense of community.
Friends are so important when there are no restaurants around, no movie theatres, no libraries, no cultural events. You rely on friends and neighbors for entertainment, especially during the long dark winter months. So people get together for tea, for knitting, for story telling, for potlucks, for helping to repair things, to go shopping together, you name it - any excuse is good to get together.