We started the year talking about recommitting to civility, and I suspect we’ll end it on the same subject.

When CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers released the Civility Pledge in January, the goal was to encourage community associations to have respectful and meaningful interactions despite differences of opinion on a particular issue, and to create an environment where residents have the opportunity to express their views openly. Despite all the challenges we’ve faced so far this year—from the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting economic impacts, and social unrest—and a contentious presidential election coming in November, we need to remain committed to that goal.

Community association board members, managers, and business partners have responded to unprecedented challenges in 2020 by working together to make difficult decisions to close (and, in some cases, reopen) pools and playgrounds, conduct business virtually, and determine new standards for cleaning. CAI has been here to help our members navigate these decisions and offer solutions through research, how-to guides, and free downloads. A webcast series delivered frequently asked questions and industry best practices.

We will need this kind of commitment from all community association stakeholders to continue the good work on civility. This year has been extraordinarily difficult and stressful, and the election has already been divisive. We may need to work even harder in coming months to build bridges, repair divides, and support each other.

Community associations comprise people with different ideals, preferences, and values. We need to talk, listen, understand, and respect each other. Civility starts with you. Civility starts with all of us. By recommitting to civility, our communities, and CAI, will be better for it.

>>Download and adopt the CAI Civility Pledge for your community today.

  • Ursula Burgess

    Ursula K. Burgess, a shareholder at Rees Broome in Tysons Corner, Va., is CAI's 2020 president. She has been practicing community association law for 15 years after working as a criminal defense lawyer in Alexandria, Va., for nearly five years. Burgess has served on CAI's Maryland Legislative Action Committee, the Washington Metropolitan Chapter Board, and the Business Partners Council. She also was a panel chair on the Montgomery County (Md.) Commission on Common Ownership Communities from 2007 to 2016 and became a fellow in CAI's College of Community Association Lawyers in 2019.

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