Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Ground has Shifted



Spring has transitioned into summer and that is good. The stay at home order has given each of us the time to look inward and rethink what is important to us, our families, and community. It has also given me time to reflect on Columbia.

Columbia Association essentially locked down a vast array of fitness facilities, pools, and before/after school programs. I have learned how intertwined and interconnected each of these programs are to the financial stability of the organization. The profit margins of each of these activities is dependent on membership traffic, and with the health and welfare of our neighbors  at risk, so is CA's micro-economy. All of this will change us as a community, and that is o'k. What I am certain of is that we will emerge as a kinder, more resilient community. 

The ground has shifted on CA, and for the first time we applauded those who kept our community operating, from health care professionals to open space crews. In Jim Rouses's view, "we are best in small communities where there is a sense of responsibility to one's city and to one's neighbor...a garden for the growing of people." Essential to the transformation of CA into the new normal should be an open, honest, and transparent conversation with community leaders. 

Each of CA's villages have also suffered financial devastation as the neighborhood centers have been forced to close and village sponsored programs cancelled. The village managers along with with their respective Boards of Directors have been forced to layoff or furlough most of their staff. CA and the Villages must be consistently supportive of each other, adding value to each other, and looking for ways to serve the greater community.

CA and the Villages must learn to be flexible and agile, while cultivating an atmosphere of teamwork. Specifically, the Villages were a creation of the CA Charter, By-Laws, and Declaration which skillfully outline Columbia Association's responsibility for the continuity of essential services to its residents, including open space and maintaining village operations like covenant enforcement. CA and the Villages should go forward with a new commitment to mutual respect as we pare down and design a more viable plan for financial stability. 

Soon the CA Board will be faced with more choices to ensure the financial viability of the organization. This brings me to leadership. Leadership is not just about a title; it is about each of us taking responsibility for Columbia. Ask questions and participate.  Many of my neighbors have contacted me about the grass not being cut, the pools closed, or the gyms not open. These are questions that deserve a "why" answer; not to blame anyone, but for understanding and planning for a more stable financial future. Talk to me, I will listen. 

Reprinted in part from the June 1st Villager      

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