A frequent theme in association management is building a sense of community within the association. But what exactly does this mean, and how is it accomplished? A sense of community is the feeling of belonging, that you and other members of the group matter to one another, and a shared agreement that everyone’s needs will be met through the commitment of the group. In a homeowners association, this is accomplished several ways.
Influence: People feel like they belong and that they matter when they feel like their opinions and ideas influence final outcomes. Remember that every homeowner has a say in their community, whether they choose to voice it constructively is a separate issue. We strongly encourage all residents to attend a minimum of two open meetings per year to stay up to date on what is happening in your community.
Shared emotional connection: A shared emotional connection is a major feature in building a sense of community within a homeowners association. This connection can be brought on in several ways. For example, people have an emotional connection with each other when they have a shared history, such as living in the same community for a number of years. One feature that connects to the physical features of a community is the fact that shared emotional connections are often experienced in public spaces. People want and need places to socially interact with each other on a non-commercial level. In many of our homeowners associations you can see groups of people gathered at a mailbox, around the pool, in the park, or at the clubhouse. During the beautiful spring and summer weather, many people are out walking in their neighborhood, which is a perfect time to strike up a conversation and get to know your neighbors.
Meeting goals: A sense of fulfillment also leads to a sense of community. When members band together to accomplish shared goals, the experience draws them closer together. This accomplishment is is a reward for participation, and pride in the final outcome creates a common sense of fulfillment. A prime example of this are communities with landscaping and gardening clubs that plant their own flowers at the community entrances, decorate around the holidays, or numerous other aesthetic improvements to the community.
A homeowners association is just a collection of people until they come together to become a community. Encourage the formation of a sense of community by providing ways to get involved and better the neighborhood. Social and landscaping committees, block and pool parties, and encouraging attendance to board an annual meetings make a difference – just like people can.