President’s Corner – August 2023 – How to Build Community

I am resurrecting an old subject for this month’s President Corner. I wrote about this a few years ago, but, now that we have a lot more people living in Viera, I think it’s a great time to dive back in again.

For anyone who has attended my Viera Resident Orientation class, you know that I usually spend a little time on talking through the things that we can do to make our community a more happy and “neighborly” place. Like I always say, in recent years, we have gotten better at building fences than we have at building relationships. And that makes me sad. I see so many fights and neighbor-to-neighbor conflicts over the silliest issues. In this day and age of social media, it is so easy to become keyboard trolls and insult/criticize people without really thinking about the impacts and the real, psychological damage it can cause. Not to mention the discord it can cause in the neighborhood. We are so quick to jump on bandwagons that may not be true and we can end up causing a stir for no reason at all.

So, in my effort to “build a community” (Viera), I want to spread a word of kindness, cooperation, and collaboration. I want Viera to be a place where neighbors help each other and welcome newcomers into their neighborhood with open arms. I want to see people sitting out on their driveway with a cold beverage greeting and meeting the people who walk by. Have a block party or a progressive dinner. Keep dog biscuits handy when dogs and their owners pass by. Offer to teach an arts/crafts class for the neighborhood kids. Organize a cookie exchange. The opportunities to connect to one another are endless!! We all have busy lives. Family to take care of, jobs to pay attention to, hobbies, entertainment, friends, etc. However, when you think about what “community” means to you, isn’t it really about the people in your community and the fellowship you share? Would you have a community without your neighbors?

Actual scientific studies have shown that neighborhoods with dog walkers are safer!! Dog walkers observe activities around them, and they know their neighbors’ schedules. They recognize when something is wrong or out of place, which is the best Neighborhood Watch you can have. Get to know your dog walkers (and their furry friends)! Do you know your neighbors around you? What are their names, what do they do, what are their birthdays?

The following is a list of some of the recommended activities from a poster we have on the wall here in the office: “How to Build Community”. Pick something on the list and just do it!

Turn off your TV;
Leave your house;
Know your neighbors;
Look up when you are walking;
Greet people;
Sit on your stoop;
Plant flowers;
Play together;
Buy from local merchants;
Share what you have;
Help a lost dog;
Take children to the park;
Garden together;
Support neighborhood schools;
Fix it even if you didn’t break it;
Have potlucks;
Honor elders;
Pick up litter;
Read stories aloud;
Dance in the street;
Listen to the birds;
Help carry something heavy;
Barter for your goods;
Start a tradition;
Ask a question;
Hire young people for odd jobs;
Organize a block party;
Bake extra and share;
Ask for help when you need it;
Open your shades;
Sing together;
Share your skills;
Take back the night;
Turn up the music;
Turn down the music;
Listen before you react to anger;
Mediate a conflict;
Seek to understand;
Learn from new and uncomfortable angles;
Know that no one is silent although many are not heard – work to change this.

So, until next time, please remember … “Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment and openness. It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter and know the other.” –David Spangler

Eva M. Rey, President
Central Viera Community Association, Inc.

How to Build A community Meme