Angela Romeo

Building community? Spread kindness

By Angela Romeo

Co-op members respond to "culture of kindness" with positive engagement.

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Lately, I've been hearing this phrase regularly from one particular manufactured-housing co-op.

That sure is true. Building a sense of community is far from easy. It is downright long, hard work. However, it does get easier over time.

One of the groups I work with has been a co-op for over a decade. Since the day they bought their park and converted from investor- to resident-ownership, they have created remarkable improvements in their community. They updated many of the electrical units, purchased a new sign for the entrance, and have created a community bulletin space in the mail house. However, some still long for a community feeling.

Over the past year, some key players have dedicated themselves to using honey when communicating to members, about members, and, most importantly, about the cooperative as a whole. The change was sparked by a financial crisis: The co-op's bills weren't being paid and nearly no one in the community was aware of it until they read about it in the local newspaper. At the next annual meeting, the co-op's members voted in a new directors dedicated to a more-open, and more-friendly approach.

These members who see the importance of staying positive have started a new culture in their co-op—a culture of kindness. New faces have been seen at board meetings, more members are offering to help with co-op business and maintenance, and several members have planned social outings that resulted in great turnouts.

Cooperative living is about helping one another, communicating with one another, and being kind to one another. There will no doubt be hurdles and hiccups along the way. However, there will be far fewer if you use honey rather than vinegar!

Former ROC-NH cooperative conversion specialist Angela Romeo now works for ROC USA.

ROC-NH is a program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, Inc. and a ROC USA® Certified Technical Assistance Provider
ROC-NH is a registered service mark of ROC USA, LLC