I saw the power of decay this month.
Our neighborhood is forty years old. It includes 80 homes that share a common water front-lot and entrance. Years ago the deed restrictions unraveled. The good news is that there are no neighborhood cops running around fining people for infringements. We all act as reasonable human beings with a vested interest in maintaining our curb value. If not, you get anonymous phone calls to take in your trashcans when you leave them out too long. Your neighbor will mow your lawn if it gets out of hand and let you know about it. Neighbors collect your papers and put them at your door, if you neglect to cancel them before a trip. Good community at work. Peer pressure at its best.
The bad news in that since dues are optional, recruiting board members for the neighborhood association is a struggle. People move in and are enthusiastic for about three to five years. After years of monthly meetings, the recruits tire and are ready to let someone else “do it.”
This exhaustion combined with steeply declining real estate value lead to the front entrance became an overgrown tangle. Yet, every day the residents saw it as they drove in. Seeing the entrance is a nasty condition lead to movement.
Last month, in one long-hour 30 people joined to rid our neighborhood of 3 years of Florida abundant growth. Seeing is believing. People had to see that their contribution was important. People had to see what lack of leadership meant before they were motivated to act. People needed to see the decay. At the event, Jim ran around collecting names and emails. He found a set of willing and enthusiastic board recruits.
One takeaway from this article is the excellent concept of creating a one-hour cleanup party at Sunday noon. Another is your thoughtful answer to this question: is there something you should intentionally let go of at your nonprofit to fire up your community to action?