What does building community mean? Where did the concept come from? How is it relevant to community associations today?

Answers to these questions, and many more, can be found in the third edition of Building Community from CAI Press.

Twenty-five years ago, CAI members were introduced to the concept of strengthening community with an article in Common Ground and sessions at CAI’s annual conference. They learned about how community associations should prioritize service and community building over the day-to-day efforts on rules enforcement, facilities maintenance, and assessment collection. At the time, it was a foreign philosophy. Community associations were focused solely on assets and the protection of property values.

The article and education sessions turned into a book, Community First!, in 1999. A subsequent edition, Building Community, debuted in 2004. Each edition featured a collection of essays from the brightest minds in community associations. Practical, strategy-oriented advice turned an idea into action. CAI and community associations haven’t looked back.

Today, building community principles are integral to how community associations are governed, operated, and managed. We’ve learned the value of thinking about community associations as a people-management business and the importance of customer service.

The new edition of Building Community again offers a collection of essays from more than a dozen leaders to introduce and further the concept of “building community” for the next generation of managers, board members, and business partners. The project, just like the first and second editions, was spearheaded by Bill Overton, PCAM, the executive director of Toscana Homeowners Association in Indian Wells, Calif.

Legendary jazz musician Miles Davis is quoted as saying, “The real music is between the notes.” Overton describes the concept of building community similarly.

“Our notes are the technical things we do such as meetings, financial statements, community maintenance, and such,” he says. “Our music, the beauty, lies in the extras we do and provide from a human perspective to serve our members and, in the process, bring our communities together. It is important to recognize and appreciate these spaces between the notes, the music, as that is where the magic happens.”

Overton helped introduce CAI to the concept 25 years ago and continues to champion the cause today.

Contributed by Vishnu Sharma, CPA, CFE. Sharma is president of CAI’s Board of Trustees and CEO of Enumerate Financial Services in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

>>Read portions of Overton’s new contribution to Building Community online and purchase the new edition of the book from CAI Press—now available in print and digital.

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