Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Age of Vicarious

The hardest question raised by Board members is, “How do we get people involved in our community?”  Requests for volunteers often fall on deaf ears:  a scary and frustrating experience for the same few stepping up for the community.

One defining aspect of humanity is its need for connections.  Whether with tales told around the campfire or epitaphs carved in stone, people link themselves with events outside the space they inhabit.  Electronic communication and social media accentuate this immersion, ranging from “reality” TV shows, political radio, sports events, to any number of educational programs.  Vicarious living can consume a person’s time and alienate others, crowding out personal and regular interactions with one’s neighbors.

Breaching this barrier is a must for creating healthy community associations.  While written communications are a great tool, the Board of Directors must guard against a “means” becoming an “end”.  A Board can issue newsletters and emails detailing plans and goals, but sharing the same information at a personal level in an informal setting is far more effective in making it “real”, fostering a positive environment for neighbors to adjust their views.

The only step to growing healthy volunteerism is frequent social gatherings.  More meals together create space to form common goals with your neighbors.  Communities hosting events every two or three months for two or three years see higher committee involvement rates and lower levels of animosity:  Trust comes with time.

The key is persistence.  A Board that humanizes itself to the membership, creating a compelling narrative for connection, will see community involvement flourish.

1 comment:

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