While the concept of fostering a community of citizens is simple, the actions required are so individualized that they are impossible to speak of in generic terms are are difficult to do well. Doing this well requires a sincere connection and relationships.
These concepts generally fall into a few broad categories that must be individualized to a specific community.
- Design and Relevant Programming
- Interaction. Bring them together. Casually and Civically
- Inform and Communicate.
- Engagement in community discussions and decisions.
- Provide Opportunities for Service
For a destination community to be truly successful, it must take an active role in shaping the development of the area that defines it. Too often, the policy plan for does not adequately address the long-term health of the community after growth begins. Your life extends beyond the confines of community jurisdiction. Redefining the function of the association is vital if the long-term quality of life and property values are to be maintained and the investment of the owners is to reach its full potential.
You can’t discern if a community is an extraordinary place by simply looking at the balance sheet.
Are people attracted to your community by the possibility of belonging to a vibrant mix of interesting people? Or did the come there in a fear based decision to keep “them” out? Do your visitors feel a sense of belonging or do they feel an outsider? Is your police or security department the first point of welcome or the first line of defense? Do your policies protect your tourism resources while fostering growth? Are you entrepreneur friendly? Do you have a structure to incubate entrepreneurial businesses?
Community associations have become another tier of government for 60 million Americans. The focus has been placed on creating government rather than community. After many years of dealing with associations, most can be categorized into one of 2 characters. One has a welcoming open environment that celebrates individuality and diversity of thought. The other is a fear based “us vs. them” mentality. I have found that to those that have the “us and them” mentality, nearly everyone who comes into contact is a “them.”
Reimagining the functions of our community association governing structures is vital for the success of a master planned community. Creating a place where citizens can thrive as individuals will allow a community system to evolve that is successful collectively.