How to Create a True Community in Your Condo Building

There’s no feeling quite like the one you get from knowing that you belong somewhere. There’s nothing like that feeling of pride, that passion of ownership – and the accompanying respect for where you live – that comes from the notion of truly identifying with where you live and where you lay your head down to sleep at night. It’s so real, it’s almost tangible, and when a condo community embodies this belief wholeheartedly, it can change the entire atmosphere of a building and the residents who live there.

This unique pride-of-ownership is really the gold standard that condo boards and Alberta condo management companies strive to reach and instill in residents. When residents truly feel like they belong to a community, this sense of ownership typically translates into a loving respect for the property as a whole, accompanied by a desire to see it improve and be the best that it can be.

As a direct result, maintenance and upkeep become less expensive – people take care of the place better, so there’s less wear-and-tear to account for. Security becomes less of a concern because residents are looking out for one another. All of this circles back to boost community morale as a whole, causing the building to become a more desirable place to live, resulting in fewer vacancies and more financial stability for the condo corporation as a whole.

You might be thinking “Sure, that all sounds great, but how do we make that happen in our building?” One word: placemaking.

What is Placemaking?

Placemaking is a unique, community-minded approach to planning and designing public spaces that have been around for decades, getting its start back in the 1960s. Now, more than half a century later, placemaking’s seeing a strong resurgence not just in urban planning, but in condo communities as well. The fundamental philosophy behind placemaking involves the simple task of designating a public space towards a unique vision or goal, and then building towards that goal through community-centric initiatives – driving investment not just in the space, but in the group and encompassing property as a whole.

Building a Successful Space

In order to find success in placemaking, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind:

  • First, give people a reason to gather.If you want people to come together, it’s important that they not only have a space to gather, but a reason, too. You won’t get anywhere by telling people what they want, though. Take the time to ask them what they need. Is your condo community in need of a place for kids to play? Are people looking for the opportunity to work their green thumbs in a community garden? Do you have a burgeoning cadre of artists just looking for a place to come together and create? The more you cater your placemaking towards your residents’ needs, the more success you’ll end up seeing.
  • Make it stand out. When it comes to placemaking, bigger and bolder is almost always going to be better. It’s important to create a space that’s not just for the community, but one that’s worthy of conversation. Get creative, have fun, and don’t be afraid to take risks!
  • Have a sub-committee spearhead the project. No matter how much your condo community might be craving a particular sort of space, it’s important to put some kind of organizational hierarchy behind your newly created placemaking project to ensure it takes off and doesn’t simply peter out. When starting a community garden, for example, it’s important to ensure that there’s a system in place for plants to be consistently watered, weeded, and cared for. If this isn’t in place, how will it get done? It’d be a shame to see months’ worth of hard work wither on the vine simply because everyone decided to go on summer vacation at the same time!
  • Patience is key. Placemaking is not something that happens overnight. It takes patience, perseverance, and persistence to build a community, and even more of the same to see that community then come together and find success pursuing a common cause or interest. The reward of seeing residents caring more for their condo complex, taking care of their yards, keeping common areas free of litter and mess, and investing in their building and community, though, makes it all worthwhile.

Going Beyond Your Condo Community

It might seem beyond the mandate of a condo management company to suggest putting a focus on community building outside the bounds of the condo complex, but in reality, this is an incredibly beneficial and constructive area to invest time in. By reaching beyond your own condo complex and into the surrounding area and neighbourhood, you can engage in building community without having to do any of the actual heavy lifting, planning, or organizational work yourself. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Just keep an eye on relevant activities happening within the neighbourhood, and then follow up by informing your residents about them. This essentially lets you piggyback on the community-building already happening in your area. Not bad!

Bringing up the community in your condo building can be a difficult job that requires plenty of time invested and even more patience. Through placemaking and subcommittees, and possibly a little extra help from the surrounding neighbourhood, it won’t be long before you start to see residents, little by little, beginning to invest themselves more and more in their condo community.

If you’ve got questions about how to kickstart your condo community, or are looking to learn about some successful examples of placemaking that other condo buildings have implemented here in Alberta, feel free to get in touch with us at Catalyst Condo Management today – we’ll be happy to help steer you in the right direction!