Earlier this month, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz and Civic Federation President Duke Banks, joined by the presidents of 55 separate civic and condo associations, held three roundtables to explore opportunities to improve communications between the two parties.
The small, intimate setting created an environment that was ripe for open and honest conversation on a broad range of topics. For some, this was a first opportunity for leaders to visit and share best practices on communicating with their neighbors, strategies for reaching new members, and opportunities for continuous improvement.
Though the civic and condo associations frequently noted that they serve very different neighborhoods (with widely varying sizes and demographics), they also shared a number of concerns, challenges, and areas of opportunity. Leaders expressed frustrations and challenges about how to recruit volunteers, build greater participation, and develop a pipeline for new leadership. Other discussions included the importance of creating partnerships and strategies for engaging with residents in multi-family buildings. In one session, presidents for two different condo associations had the chance to meet their civic association’s counterpart for the first time.
Civic and condo association volunteer leaders contribute a significant amount of time and energy to help neighbors feel connected. Throughout the sessions, there was a shared sentiment for having the opportunity to have regular neighborhood and peer exchanges for sharing best practices, turning up unknown resources, or simply having support of peers who are often having the similar challenges.
The energy of the meetings was vital, passionate, and positive. And there was a real sense that the groups were “in it together” and trying their hardest to create the best Arlington they could. Both the County Manager and Civic Federation will be following up with participants on potential next steps and action items while the collective energy is still high.
Learn more about the Arlington County Civic Federation.