In the past condo residents and condo boards were mostly concerned with the physical building; safety, cleanliness, finances and repairs. These priorities were often evaluated in terms of risk and liability which is common for an emerging organizational structure or organization.
Now, after more than a quarter of a century and some level of maturity, condo living is evolving in what is a normal and predictable stage of development. Condos are now viewed as communities or vertical neighbourhoods. More condo residents seek more than basic safety and comfort as condo communities have evolved.
Condo residents now desire more luxurious amenities and to maintain social relationships through shared activities.
There has been much research on understanding healthy and sustainable communities and neighbourhoods. Most of this research is directly applicable to condo communities. The common theme is that people who share geographical and physical boundaries need to work together through member engagement to create a healthy shared environment.
People purchase or rent a condo, and pay fees, to be a part of these communities. Condo owners deserve, and demand, healthy communities that encompass quality physical infrastructure and services.
Maintaining a healthy community has become important because living in a healthy environment keeps one healthy. A healthy environment includes being active, socializing and participating in the community.
What is a Healthy Community
Condo residents should strive to maintain a healthy community both today and as they age. This means finding activities of interest. Some people like to participate in traditional social activities such as bingo, outings, BBQs, game nights, movie nights, book clubs and breakfast meetings. Others enjoy more physical activities such as yoga, aqua fitness and exercise classes. Yet others are interested in internal committees or shared volunteer activities.
Resident demographics drive the activities available in a condo building. Specific activities will depend on who is in the community and their individual interests.
Building a Healthy Community
The one constant in healthy communities is that people want a sense of belonging through trusting relationships, shared activities, positive communication and issues resolution. Condo communities that support these are healthier than those that do not.
Healthy communities require teamwork. Condo groups, boards and committees must all work together.
One approach is to establish committees for specific purposes such as preparing a newsletter, managing internal communications or addressing identified concerns. Such committees generally work independent of a condo board and can deal with everything from planning to communication and implementation.
An effective approach to addressing varied interests within a condo community is to employ a social director to organize programs, activities and events.
Engagement vs. Entitlement
Condo residents need to contribute to the community they want to live in. Living in a clean, safe and enjoyable community requires effort. Without the involvement of residents working to improve their community, the goal of a healthy community is unlikely to be reached.
A condo board or social committee cannot be solely responsible for creating a healthy environment. Each resident needs to feel some degree of responsibility for leading, supporting and/or participating in activities.
Get involved in your community!
Find something that suits your interests. Join a board. Sit on a committee. Start or join a social activity. Summer barbecues, holiday parties, discussion groups, book clubs and exercise classes are all popular. Anything that interests you and a small group of your neighbours is a great reason to get together.
Make it happen. Start small. Don’t leave it up to others to create your ideal community. And don’t allow others to prevent you from getting a group together.
It’s your home, your community and your responsibility. Create healthy relationships, activities and a deep sense of belonging. You will be healthier as will your vertical community.
Maureen Hennessy is a Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness Consultant. She works with large institutions such as hospitals and private corporations. Maureen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.