Resoundingly YES when it came to our Annual General Strata Meeting (a legal joint ownership of properties). Why was this meeting so intriguing? It bent the very definition of community, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals” into a shape that was absolutely unrecognizable.
To achieve a truly spirited and harmonious community, there has to be an interest in exploring each person’s “happy” ingredient and even in disagreement, supporting different methodologies, procedures and solutions to achieve a common “happiness”.
The meeting proceeded well, given new challenges facing the group in defining responsibility for various capital and annual operating expenses.
One gentleman kept loudly trying to discredit solutions that were being considered; always a waste of time. My experience is the cost/ benefit of most solutions, once given light, becomes very clear.
Another gentleman seemed to feel that even exploring the allocation of expenses was very unseemly, simply the “ask” was enough to define someone as lacking in community spirit. He suggested individuals asking for this evaluation were previous homeowners’ who obviously did not understand the complex relationships tied to community living. This gentleman did not stop there; he ridiculed an unnamed home owner for sending in multiple emails about various concerns. He continued the rant suggesting the persons who had hired lawyers to tackle the problem now had black marks against them. No one likes paying lawyers, but when discussion or conversation fails, the legal route often becomes the sensible one.
This community will journey on, but to become a caring, harmonious and inclusive group, requires a strong leader. The leadership needed must bring alignment of all the factions and reduce the negative banter. The leader would also have to act using change management techniques from time to time, to keep the strata on course. I am uncertain whether the president of this particular group has developed any of these skills.
I work within great communities who do share common goals and have wonderful community spirit and leadership. In meetings designed to create solutions to problems the leadership would often use a strategic thinking model. This model removes debate of an idea or offering within the meetings, partly as a time saver and as a method to foster innovation. Voting on which ideas or solutions to further explore reduces the need for debate while ensuring a greater pool of ideas is delivered. It presumes an individual should not be shut down, intimidated or ridiculed.
I am sure the challenges of this strata are common not only to strata communities, but to partnerships, shareholders, and other communal groups trying to operate in the best interests of themselves while being mindful of others.
My experience is that the foundation of a community is built on listening, sharing, giving and exploring ideas and solutions collectively. Conversation, inclusion, and transparency all work together to cement the community. I also think there must be the occasional fun times, a cocktail gathering, barbeque, or street party that kicks relationships into gear.
I will end with a thank you to all the communities and leaders I have had the privilege of working with. Being a member of many communities in both the private and public sector has given me opportunity to enjoy many amazing role models that have enhanced, guided and built communities that make a difference.