Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"I" Number Two: Involvement

Announcements at the end...

For those of you lucky enough to have had a long weekend, let me bring you up to speed.  In recognition of summer, when neighbors are more likely to be spending time outside and daylight allows us to pack more activity into our days, we are spending the week celebrating and better understanding concepts of community.  Yesterday we focused on Introductions.  Essential to community is the idea that participants receive a formal introduction into the group.  What is it?, Why does it exist?, What is expected of you in community?  Similarly, introduction requires members to share basic information about themselves with other community members.  We did this and, if for some reason, you missed the chance, then PLEASE feel free introduce yourself today.  Inherent in community is the idea that it is inviting - meaning... it's never too late to jump in!

Today... Involvement.  You know what's great about this?  Just last week I was helping out Heather (a loyal reader and great friend) by scoping out Grapevine apartment complexes.  In and out Katie and I went snapping pictures and gathering information from Apartment Complex Directors.  While the amenities from one complex to another appeared to be the same - or very similar - it was the opportunity for involvement that seemed to most distinguish one location from another.  Not only was the experience perfectly timed, but it reinforced everything I know and intuitively believe about the essential role that opportunities for involvement play in building community.

So lets take a page from the Dove Park Apartment Complex, for example.  Placed squarely in their front office for any resident or visitor to see is a bulletin board and a newsletter announcing upcoming activities.  June 12... Kid's Club.  June 21... Hawaiian Luau Pool Party.  Every morning... free coffee in the internet cafe.  Every Friday... Popcorn Friday's.  The complex is chock full of opportunities for residents to involve themselves in the life of the community.  With such a spread of activity comes - as my friend, Katie O. would say, "the promise of fun."  With each of those activities comes the hope, that yes... I will be happy here and maybe even make some new friends.  Community.   

Let's face it... many college students pick schools based as much on catalog photographs (students on the quad and in the football stadium) as they do on course selection.  How involving is the community?  It's true.  We select fitness clubs based not only price and equipment, but in many cases, also on how thriving the community feels.  My neighborhood became more fun the day I learned they have a monthly Bunco group in which I could get involved.  Churches, who in many cases compete for members, don't grow congregations by showcasing sparsely filled pews and empty social calendars.  No.  We gauge the potential for fun and interest in a group by how involving it appears to be. 
Let's turn inward for a moment.  One strategy used to build community among highlowaha readers is to present opportunities for involvement.  Rather than having you simply join me each day for a creative idea (receive), I like to present ways for you to get involved.  Vote in Taste of USA; Whack an idea one Wednesday; Share your creativity on a Free For All Friday; Take the "Never Eat Alone Challenge";  Offer something Bigger or Better; or send a postcard in hopes of receiving a Random Act of Kindness (it's still not too late... 4012 Harvestwood Court, Grapevine, Texas 76051).

So take quick inventory of the groups to which you belong.  Are there opportunities for involvement or could the sense of community be enhanced by inviting participants to do more than simply share space, faith, or common goals?

Maybe you'll get involved today and share an observation or two about your communities.

  • The 38 words/phrases for the Altoid Tables have been selected.  They are... Hugs are Free; Dream; Authenticity; Imagine the Possibility; What if?; Wish on Stars; Smell the Roses; Give Freely; Treat others as you would like to be treated; Why Not?; Serendipity; Dream Big; It's never too late to be who you might have been; Believe in yourself; Imagine; Live, Love, Laugh; It's Magic; Smile; Wish; You are beautiful; Call your mom; Hope; Think Big; Inspire; Carpe Diem; Do a random act of kindness; We have all we need; You Matter; Deep Breaths, Happy Thoughts; Make a Wish; Hope; Listen hard; laugh; continue to learn; Do what you love; Got Milk?; Failure is inevitable, success is optional; Live for today; You're destined to do great things.  Thank you for the 69 entries!
  • Speaking of the Altoid Tables:  Yesterday we received two more packages of trinkets for the table and a Freebie for an upcoming Freebie Friday.  Thank you Peggy, Cassie P, and H.F. from Pennsylvania.  Keep the trinkets coming.  So far we have items such as... an hour glass, a calculator, lottery tickets, scrap booking trinkets, sea shells, and earrings.  The possibilities are endless, so get creative and get involved
Signing off until tomorrow...

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