Re-Believing in Community Participation

Below is an article I wrote in 2008 in a series entitled “Community Building 101” (pdf file). “Re-Believing in Community Participation” is part 4 in this mini-essay series and I wanted to share it here on my real estate appraisal blog because life is not just about the value of our homes, but the quality and value of the relationships we have, even in our neighborhoods – and especially in this economy.

Re-Believing in Community Participation by Ryan Lundquist

I recently attended a funeral of a local man. He raised four kids, stayed married for fifty years, knew success in his career, and had many remarkable traits. His eulogy was full of all the great stuff we often hear, but there was something more mentioned that was a very high compliment: he was a good neighbor. Story after story was shared about how he was known to say hi to others, pay attention to people around him, find ways to care for folks next door, talk to passersby, befriend local teenagers, and even share his roses and vegetables with neighbors.

The notion of being a contributor to the health of a community is seldom on the radar in today’s society. Somewhere along the way we lost the value for connectedness and are now more isolated and self-reliant. If we can re-believe though that it really does matter to have residents involved in neighborhood life, then our communities will thrive.

Whose responsibility is it anyway to help a neighborhood grow in the right direction? Is it the City and its programs? Council members? An HOA? Apartment managers? Local Business? Police? Code Enforcement? The answer is all of the above, but most of all it is the privilege of residents to shape the values of their tract. Just as each of us needs to eat certain foods to yield a healthy body, in neighborhoods individual households help to nourish the overall well being of their area. Not everyone has a desire to be social or get to know others, and that is understandable, but as more and more residents choose to be intentional about their community, we will experience a vibrancy that no HOA fee could ever create.

When we begin to put effort into the stream of subdivision life we will see stronger relationships and a greater sense of communal vision, not to mention having a whole lot of fun. This is not about taking on big neighborhood projects, but instead buying into a belief that our individual contributions and giftedness are valuable for the soul of the neighborhood. Let’s begin to re-believe that each household has something to offer for the health of the community and then act accordingly.

You are important for your neighborhood. Do you believe that?

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