A couple move into a high-rise condo. He soon declares “I hate it! I can’t shovel my snow, clean my car in the garage or cut my own lawn!” A number of years later his wife passes away. There were difficult days when the community rallied around him. Neighbours stopped by to offer condolences, deliver cards or food. Neighbours took care to ensure he attended activities and events, and that he did not feel alone or lost. That is community.
Buying a condo is to buy into a community, the cohesiveness of which can vary. One popular reason for purchasing a condo is to socialize.
A building is not automatically a community. Design, size and demographics may impact on community as do availability of amenities. Mostly, it has to do with how people interact.
Many residents choose their condo because of the social component that is offered. Condo communities that develop and enhance their social offerings remain appealing to more groups. Building and maintaining a sense of community, when so many are busy with work or other activities, is a challenge. This requires effort by the condo board, managers and residents.
People cannot be forced to participate in activities. They must have the desire and time to do so. Most of the people who choose to participate are retired and for good reason. When you are retired you have more time to put into the community. This means more time participating in activities, on committees and the board.
It can be challenging to get people younger than 55 to participate in activities, committees or the board. Getting retirees involved is easier because they tend to have more time.
Successful communities require getting people who are working and those with children more involved.
The single biggest factor in buildings with vibrant communities and those without may be the existence of a social committee. A group to plan activities and events, and to communicate them to the community, is essential to community building.
Welcome New Neighbours
Community begins with how new arrivals are treated. Welcome new neighbours with a bottle of wine or gift basket. Encourage them to get involved. Tell them about activities and committees in the building. Make it easy for them to participate and contribute.
Events that incorporate food and activities are most popular. If the swimming pool or BBQ area is popular with residents organize events around these amenities. Have a summer BBQ party or celebrate Canada Day. Lobby space can be used for gatherings when other space is unavailable. Give residents an opportunity to meet and get to know one another. Encouraging all generations to participate – young, old, children and retirees – is important to having a cohesive community.
Communication is Key
Effective communication is key. Utilize a combination of tools including bulletin boards, website, newsletter, e-mail and social media. Publicize activities and events many months in advance.