Do you belong to a local club or organization? The answer may have far-reaching consequences – for your health, the quality of your community and the social fabric of our fragmented nation. The Prescott Film Festival presents Join or Die, a fascinating documentary about the power of social organizations and their potential to heal the national divide, Saturday, September 23 at 10 a.m., at the Jim & Linda Lee Performing Arts Center.

“Social capital” may sound like a wonky term, but it is a measure of personal connectivity; the degree of familiarity and trust each person feels across their neighborhoods and their communities. “It’s the number of people who know one another’s first names,” eminent Sociologist Robert Putnam says, “the number of people who take part in community organizations, the amount of trust and reciprocity in the community.” These are the building blocks, Putnam says, for relationships, cooperation and healthy societies.

Join or Die follows Putnam’s work as he tracks social capital across our national landscape. As the author of the groundbreaking 2000 book, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of the American Community” Putnam chronicled declining participation across all American organizations – social, civic, religious and political – and predicted growing social unrest as a result. His predictions read like prophecy 20 years later, as a polarized nation struggles to cooperate and communicate across deep-seated social and political divides.

Director Pete Davis pairs Putnam’s work with anecdotes, interviews and a convincing array of statistics to present the United States as a country – built on personal relationships – that now struggles with a frayed social fabric because its citizens have stopped reaching out to one another.

“Everything that reflects human connection is going down,” Putnam says. “How many times last year did you go to a dinner party? Down. How many times last year did you go to a club meeting? In barely a couple of decades, half the civic infrastructure in America had simply vanished.”

From its earliest days, the United States was a nation of “joiners” – praised by French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville as a country powered by social, religious, neighborhood and benevolent organizations. Together, they formed a dense social network. That tendency to join began to wither toward the end of the 20th Century.

“I happened to run into a friend who owned a bowling alley,” Putnam recalls. “He said although more Americans are bowling than ever before – bowling is up in America – bowling in leagues, bowling in teams is off by about sixty percent.”

Join or Die monitors the trend toward social isolation as it moves from statistical tables to our streets and neighborhoods. The film captures a ‘loneliness epidemic’ severe enough to affect our national health. And it finds communities where citizens are pushing back, through a variety of ways, to reconnect, break the isolation and build our communities back. In that spirit, the Prescott Film Festival will host several local groups at the Jim & Linda Lee PAC after the screening, to share information and sign up volunteers.

Join or Die screens at 10 a.m. Saturday, September 23, at the Jim & Linda Lee Performing Arts Center, on Yavapai College’s Prescott Campus at 1100 E. Sheldon Street. Tickets are $14 general admission, with a 50% discount for students, YC employees and OLLI members. The Prescott Film Festival also offers a variety of ticket packages online or at the Jim & Linda Lee Performing Arts Center Ticket Office. Film trailers and a full festival schedule is available on the PFF website,, and the Jim & Linda Lee Performing Arts Center site, For more information, please call: (928) 776.2000, or email: