Santa Claus can’t get to visit Children…

…in Syria. And not in Aleppo.

…and these children will probably never know what a “Merry Christmas” would be like.

With only a few days until Christmas 2016, those of us aware of the indescribable cruelty against humanity occurring in Syria can’t help but have an extremely heavy heart for these children whose lives teeter against the edge of a very uncertain and unimaginable future.

This agonizing perspective of life reduced to utter worthlessness is both a blessing and a curse. A curse because at a great distance, shielded from the stark reality of existence by the hour, we feel helpless. A blessing? It makes us realize that we are infinitely blessed by the abundance of idyllic living at Huntly Wynd.

It makes the issues we fiercely debate and discourse mute in comparison. Perhaps with this perspective, our outlook can change, promoting the spirit of cooperation, friendship, and hospitality. It will brighten up the prospects of the New Year 2017.

GIFT IDEAS?

 

 

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Making our Community Vibrant

Carrie Randolph is an outstanding woman-a true philanthropist. You can read about her here.

She wrote about “What Makes a Vibrant Community” in May, 2011. In that article she describes “vibrant communities as places where:

  1. Arts and cultural expression are encouraged and celebrated
  2. Living & dying with dignity are community values
  3. Lifelong learning is encouraged and available
  4. Safety is both a community and a personal responsibility
  5. Civic engagement is considered a duty
  6. Sustainable economic growth is cultivated
  7. Protection of our environment and historical places is a shared value that benefits human health and our local economies

ARTS and CULTURAL EXPRESSION

The seven (7) attributes above could easily be applied to our community. When we got together for our 1st International Festival last September, we were celebrating our culture and diversity. We came together in a spirit of community and sharing. We brought food and great enthusiasm to share. We enjoyed music and entertainment and came home that night feeling wonderful.

LIVING and DYING in DIGNITY

When someone in our community is ill and in need, we stand by to help however we can. When someone leaves us for a care home, or forever, we grieve and send out our thoughts and prayers.

SAFETY

When something goes wrong that threatens our safety, we are concerned.

…But to make our community vibrant requires more from each of us. 

RECOGNITION of COMMUNITY SERVICE

First and foremost, it is my opinion that it is important to recognize that those volunteering to serve our community freely are giving of themselves for the benefit of the community. When we do, it changes interpersonal dynamics. We become more understanding of the challenges they face and the enormous responsibilities they carry. With that mindset, we become more generous, offering to help them instead of always keeping an eye on what goes wrong.

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

We could choose not to do anything and let others carry on with what needs to be done in our community. But when we do, we abandon our right to experience community life. As Winston Churchill writes (above), “We make a life by what we give“! It is why “being involve” contributes to a vibrant community.

LIFELONG LEARNING

Imagine being able to share thoughts, ideas, and opinion. Imagine helping others solve problems. We could have community programs like  “yoga sessions”; morning “tai chi” exercises; community walks; seminars on “gardening”, internet surfing, fitness, landscaping; ballroom and line dancing; singing. Lifelong learning helps our minds and bodies stay strong and healthy. Imagine actively using our clubhouse facilities in a myriad of ways.

SUSTAINABLE GROWTH & PROTECTION of our ENVIRONMENT

Huntly Wynd is an incredible and unique place in the City of Richmond. The demand to maintain and enhance our infrastructures equates with the value of our homes and our community. When we care for our community the same way we care for our respective homes, we begin to have an open mind about the economic realities of the importance of assuring “sustainable growth”. We begin to see the significance of managing financial resources with the future in mind. We see our “monthly maintenance contributions” or “special levies” as our pledge to continue to build values to our homes.

SOWING SEEDS of DISCONTENT…

…negatively impacts community life. It hurts and fragments relationship. Please keep in mind that when we put our strata council or corporation in a legal bind for whatever reason, let us not forget that  it is us, owners, that are ultimately liable. Cost of legal proceedings or awards against the corporation ultimately depletes our resources.

Instead, let us strengthen and promote altruism and friendship. Our community deserves it. We deserve it. Perhaps one day, philanthropists in our community may consider a living legacy in their name for the benefit of the community they call home – Huntly Wynd.

A Community that plays (prays?) and works together……..

Yes, we all chose to have our home at Huntly Wynd because of wonderful things we see – the trees, ponds, wild life, serenity, security.

Did we see ourselves belonging to a community? Quite frankly, that was not a major initial consideration in our choice. Only later did it become clear that, like it or not, we belong to a community of people waving and smiling at each other. We discovered so many things we have in common.

So then, knowing this, it is easy to assume that “this is a great community!” Or is it?

To answer this question made me do a research and discovered “The Psychology of Communities”. I also read about Carrie Randolph, author of a post titled “What Makes a Vibrant Community?

One word stands out in describing a great community: CARING. Another word is Philanthropy, which author Randolph defines as, “altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement on a local and global level”.

In 1986, social psychologists (Dr. David) McMillan and Chavis formed this theory about “Sense of Community”:

“Sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.

Dr. Seymour Sarason adds: “A psychological sense of community is the perception of similarity to others, an acknowledged interdependence with others, a willingness to maintain this interdependence by giving to or doing for others what one expects from them, and the feeling that one is part of a larger dependable and stable structure.”

It is obvious that the opposite of “caring”  is “selfishness”.

And here is another powerful statement explaining interdependency and influence within a community:

“People who acknowledge that others’ needs, values, and opinions matter to them are often the most influential group members, while those who always push to influence, try to dominate others, and ignore the wishes and opinions of others are often the least powerful members.” (Psychology of Communities)

Answer these please:

  1. Do you have a strong feeling of altruism and desire to contribute to others?
  2. Do you celebrate cultural expression and value/appreciate diversity?
  3. Do you feel a sense of neglect, alienation, apathy, loneliness?
  4. Are you concerned with what you must “take from this community” or what you could “contribute to it”?

Next post: Making our Community Vibrant

Making things Right – deserves Respect and Admiration

 There was a big change in 2016: the property management company was replaced. Why? Because the new council wanted to “make things right”.

But why has the year 2016 been tumultuous? I bet there would be a lot of finger pointing to answer this question.

Perhaps what is most obvious is this. Owners want and expect “everything to be perfect”.

The new council was never given an opportunity to fulfil its objective – making things right. Having to unravel years of frustration with Bayside and Unger in addition to tackling challenges with management of infrastructures, routine maintenance, and the prospect of fulfilling engineering recommendations respecting the Depreciation Report are no ordinary responsibilities. Any strata council presented with so much on its plate in a single year deserves more than just respect and admiration; it deserves a medal for bravery and the guts to subject itself to incredible dispute and caustic antipathy by the people it volunteered to serve – owners.

Wake up people! Rome was not built in a day. Until respect, peace, and harmony returns to Huntly Wynd, you risk depreciating the value of a most wonderful place to live. Empower your  leaders to make changes rather than crucifying them every minute you believe they have made a mistake.

HUNTLY WYND – The BIG PICTURE

It has been nearly a year since this blog has been updated. It is not because “no news is good news”. However, there has not yet been a significant event that the writer considers significant enough to write about. Until Now.

The year 2016 at Huntly Wynd started with a promise of new and exciting things to come only to experience a “hurricane” in August.

From this…..

to this…….

What happened”

Greater objectivity and understanding are essential to resolving “growing issues” in this community.

Relevant Facts:

  1. Prior to the year-end 2015, an owner presented a motion/resolution to terminate the services of Scott Unger and Bayside Property Management Company.
  2. The then ruling strata council (2015) caused the motion to be defeated.
  3. A new council as well as new officers was formed in 2016.
  4. Before the end of the 1st quarter of 2016, the new council voted to allow Bayside’s contract to terminate and not renewed.
  5. Property Management transition for April 1, 2016 was announced on its Council Minutes of March 15, 2016.
  6. The new council worked feverishly to address many issues in the community.
    1. For the first time in years, owners were provided an update of events through its Community Updater, published monthly or as frequently as seen necessary.
    2. It introduced a “working session with owners” through a community gathering on March 4, 2016
    3. The new council president ended her updater with the following: “Council is better informed as to the wishes of members of our community”.
  7. On August 10, 2016, council announced a “Community Conversation” to take place August 26, 2016 to discuss several issues needing resolutions.
  8. Between April and July, an owner instigated a “revolt” against council by first circulating a long harshly written email to his neighbors, alleging misdeeds by the council, inferring a “dictatorial” nature of the March 4 “working session” (in 6.b above). The owner proceeded to make his case to any owner he met and illicitly added their names to his “petition” without actually having them affix their signatures to a written document.
    1. The “community conversation” of August 26, 2016 became a disgraceful and illegitimate confrontation led by that particular owner against the new council, demeaning and sabotaging all the efforts of the new council to govern the strata as efficiently as it endeavored.
    2. Consequently, the new council is plagued with discontent and there is a brewing unsavory and seedy environment at Huntly Wynd.
  9. A 1st International Festival on September 5, 2016 saved the community from having a year full of negativity.
  10. Finally, a website (https://huntlywynd.org) was formally established.

A PROGNOSIS of Current Events

Until the sequences of events above are understood and acknowledged, the strata council will have bleak chances of reversing a destructive trend that could worsen the situation for the community for the following year 2017.

What made the events of August 26, 2016 illegitimate?

Under Part 4 – Strata Corporation Governance of the Strata Property Act, sec 34.1 provides for handling of a problem or complaints by an owner, or group of owners.

The owner initiating the “revolt” against council did not follow legal procedures that required that:

  1. Any alleged conflicts or serious issues pertaining to “governance” of the strata corporation must be made in writing requesting a council hearing [Sec 34.1 (1)] to handle, arbitrate, manage, and resolve complaints.
  2. The owner presented his document (at the Aug 26 meeting) that did not contain original signatures of his co-petitioners.
  3. A few of the owners whose names appeared on the “petition” indicated that they have no knowledge of what was contained in that document.

Part of the problem is a complete lack of knowledge (by owners) of the Strata Property Act, in particular, the section that deals with GOVERNANCE.

It is clear from an evaluation of all the relevant events of 2016 that the brewing discontent at HW has to do with GOVERNANCE by the current strata council. This is either due to:

  • lack of appreciation for the genuine effort of council members to serve their community voluntarily
  • lack of understanding of administrative strategies it employed (study groups at the March meeting)
  • lack of credit (to the new council) for handling a challenging year of property management transition
  • prevailing general poor attitude of some owners against strata council management, regardless of serving members
  • lack of understanding of “legal resources” to handle complaints or crisis

 

HOW COULD ALL THIS BE RESOLVED? 

The new council continues to handle the pressure of governance by seeking volunteers pertaining to:

 

BYLAWS and RULES

GROUNDS and GARDENS

LANDSCAPING

DEPRECIATION REPORT

CLUBHOUSE and GUEST SUITE

WEB DESIGN

All who may volunteer to serve in any of these committees may need to have a vision of what would constitute

  • a community that is efficiently managed
  • a Strata Council that is appreciated and empowered to function well
  • a system of handling questions, requests for maintenance and services, conflict resolutions and follow ups

In particular, the BYLAWS and RULES committee must refer itself to the Strata Corporation Governance section of the Strata Property Act (Part 4). It must be prevented from proposing new bylaws that overrule, duplicates, or supersede the act; or anything that undermines the ability of a council to act judiciously. It must be able to distinguish between what constitute a “general governance” provision or article against a “specific rule” relating to common property or its use.

There are numerous significant issues that could very well take time to be resolved. Perhaps the most important factor that could help alleviate the general malaise has already started since the new council took office – EDUCATION and INFORMATION.

The Community Updater is essential in keeping every owner informed. The Web Page should be expanded to enable social interaction and exchange of information and ideas.