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Harvest Kindness: Community Building With Your Neighbors

While it’s true that in many cases good fences make good neighbors, there’s nothing quite like the goodwill that exists between them. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s a great time to plan a holiday gathering to keep the good feelings going during the winter months.

1. Throw a mixer/social

A social hour held in your dedicated common space can be a great way for new residents to mingle with more established ones and for neighbors to meet those who live a few streets over. You can build in activities that promote relationship-building like a business card exchange or a local recommendations activity (a kind of Angie’s List for the development). Keep the timing for the mixer loose and after hours, with an emphasis on neighbors walking to and from the event so they can both a) mingle longer and b) get home safely.

2. Have a potluck or barbecue

Invite neighbors to bring their specialty food item, a little something that will reflect their background, culture and tastes. Non-cooks can provide plates, napkins and utensils, while a small committee can devote themselves to organizing tables in your shared common area. This is a great way to invite people to get to know each other better by eating together, exchanging recipes and talking about their families and traditions. All ages are welcome at this kind of event.

3. Organize a community initiative or club

Community walking or biking clubs, babysitting shares, book clubs and even bands are great ways to create enthusiasm and goodwill among neighbors. Build a team to do additional upkeep throughout the development, or gather a group of dedicated green thumbs to make a community garden. This approach invites neighbors of all ages to get out and do something together, often on behalf of the community itself.

4. Rally around a charitable effort

Get everyone in the spirit for the holidays by introducing an optional charity or fundraising effort adopted by the community. The institution or organization can change each year and even work off of suggestions made by the community. Work together to raise funds or gather them, then offer them on behalf of your housing development.

HOAs and their boards have a unique opportunity in the fall to harvest some kindness among neighbors, setting everyone up for a wonderful holiday season and new year ahead.