Participation vs Community Building

Posted by Jonathan Dietrich on August 7, 2008

I think it is easy for "community builders" to forget that the primary purpose of our cooperatives is to provide affordable housing by having the members pool their money together. The cooperative principles only include economic participation, and most cooperatives have a very detailed policy for dealing with arrears. Everything else is gravy.

By keeping a good attitude about those who are participating, and by becoming strong community builders, we can foster an environment where more people will see value in the community and thus more likely to become community builders.

See my lists detailing how to participate vs how to help build a community.

Participation in a housing cooperative means to me:

  • obey the bi-laws ( I know the next two are included in the bi-laws, but they are worth pulling out )
  • pay your housing fee on time
  • attend the general meetings and vote
  • do not prevent or discourage others from helping to build or maintain the community

Building the community means to me:

  • sitting on the board / committees
  • attending social events
  • helping to run an event (even if you don't sit on a committee)
  • helping to set up / put away chairs after a general meeting
  • helping a neighbour
  • smiling and saying "Hi"
  • mowing a neighbour's lawn
  • cleaning up a mess you didn't make
  • encouraging others to help build the community
  • being a good neighbour
  • writing an article for the newsletter
  • saying "Thank you"
  • being a happy, positive member
  • caring for a community flower bed
  • etc.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Beaver Creek Housing Co-operative or its Board of Directors.