Social Distancing without Sacrificing Community

Tips for Community Managers on how to stay in touch with their communities during a time of social distancing:

When we look back at the calendars of our community events in February, we may wax nostalgic, seeing newsletters and event information advertising Valentine’s banquets at the club houses, HOA meetings, Chess Club, Sunrise Yoga, Sunset Hiking, the list goes on.

Sometimes it can feel as though Covid-19 has taken away the very identity of our communities, as our communities not only house people, but their ideals, values, as well as common interests. Communities are advertised, built and populated based off of the Developer’s ability to provide a certain lifestyle, a lifestyle which is supported by the best, most relevant social events, fitness calendars and exclusive amenities, all designed around the idea that residents will be participating in these lifestyles together.

With our gyms, clubhouses, 5-star, luxury restaurants closed, how do keep our communities connected and continue to instill the sense of membership and communal identity our residents have grown accustomed to? Here are some ideas to keep you and your community connected, while we all do our part to practice social distancing and flatten the curve.

  1. Look After Each Other
    1. Create on your community Webpages a way to centrally communicate important bulletins, elderly care requests as well as requests for grocery delivery. A lot of our residents can’t get out to do their regular shopping and aren’t able to have their prescriptions delivered. Find a way to follow the rules of social distancing and take care of your most vulnerable and valued seniors.
    2. Start and or update a Facebook page dedicated to your community – social media is a great way to centralize community communication.
    3. Post and eBlast links to free social technology such as, Google Hangouts, etc. with instructions on how to download and operate the apps. Make yourself available as “tech support” to help your Boards get online so you can still discuss and propagate HOA business. Your Quilting Club can get on Zoom for free and still have that sense of community and belonging they have come to rely on.
  2. Create Excitement
    1. Tennis Courts and Chess Club may be out for now, but you can organize a community car parade where people drive slowly around the neighborhood with a home-decorated car. You can urge folks who can’t drive to put decorations in their windows for that day to help cheer the parade. You would be surprised at what a little comradely can do for your HOA’s morale.
    2. Post links to free museum links, art classes, language classes, etc. There are a ton of museums who have opened their virtual doors to the public. DuoLingo is a language app which allows the user to learn a new language, a little bit at a time, for free.
    3. Post Zoom meetings for “At home banquets” – Mother’s Day is coming up, you can host a Zoom meeting for a Mother’s Day brunch at home.
  3. Stay Upbeat and Proactive
    1. Post and eBlast tips on how to keep morale up at home. Include advice for your residents to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, to reach out to at least 2 family members or friends per day, attach maps to your trails, local landmarks such as lakes or hiking areas and encourage people to get fresh air. Post links to free workout programs for different age groups.
    2. Talk about gardening tips for the spring/summer – gardens have mental longevity and provide your residents with short- and long-term planning goals. Talking about tomorrow helps to de-clutter the mind of the stresses of today.
    3. Offer tips on de-cluttering closet space, another great use of time that not only will keep your community busy but encourages movement and provides affirmation when the project is complete.

It is important we all continue to do our part, to not only reduce the spread of Covid-19, but to protect and continue to cultivate the very fabric of our communities, which is connectivity. With a little imagination and bravery to learn some new technology, we can all stay connected during a time when it matters the most.