Extraordinary Final Week of 2016!

On Dec. 26th and 27th, a two-part story on Manufactured (Mobile) Home Communities ran on National Public Radio. The first night showcased some of the financial and legal issues for homeowners in commercially-owned communities. Of course, it highlighted a really bad case, and those exist. But, I do feel badly for the many good community owners whose positive stories go untold. That’s unfair.

The second part of the story showcased the Park Plaza Co-op in Fridley, Minnesota. The piece was so touching that one of my daughter’s friends openly cried while listening to it!

The story featured Natividad Seefeld who Community Leadership Institute participants know as a fellow participant for many years now. She is the founding president of Park Plaza and the ROC Association. She’s twice been elected by ROCs in the Midwest to serve on ROC USA’s Board of Directors.

In the radio piece, Natividad spoke of her urgency and dedication as having a root in her personal background – her family was homeless for parts of her childhood and, this is big, she has carries the burden of a brain cancer diagnosis.

So, she wants to see things done; she wants to build community. And, she’s doing a whole lot of both!

Please listen to it, it’s really touching. After you do, you’ll understand why we’ll be holding a special fundraising campaign to raise money for a new playground at Park Plaza. More on that to follow!

And, then, on Dec. 29th, the Pammel Creek Estates, Inc. in La Crosse, Wisconsin became 195th ROC in ROC Association! Pammel Creek is the 16th new ROC in 2016, tying the number assisted in 2015.

They also helped us over a hump so we start 2017 saying, “We’re 12,000 homes strong and growing!”

Both Park Plaza and Pammel Creek are supported by the staff of the Northcountry Cooperative Foundation (NCF), a TA Provider in ROC USA Network that’s based in Minneapolis. NCF is a founding affiliate of ROC USA Network and a strong contributor to Network’s commitment to excellence and innovation. Thank you NCF staff and all TA Providers for all that you do to make resident ownership successful from coast to coast!

Both Park Plaza and Pammel Creek are also borrowers of ROC USA Capital. It was largely financing from ROC USA Capital that funded the $1 million of water and road improvements at Park Plaza that was referenced in the radio report.

It’s projects like that – and knowing so many ROCs have similar needs – that excites me about the Trump administration’s commitment to infrastructure. As local small businesses with capital improvement needs, your communities are ideal public-private partnerships. The Community Infrastructure Guides on myROCUSA.org (see ROC Guides in blue bar) offer some public programs that may have more money for community projects very soon!

While on the subject of presidential politics, I want to share a concern that the attack-based campaign we just watched could impact community relations if you and we are not careful.

Please take personal responsibility for your behavior and be the kind of neighbor you want others to be. Call it the Golden Rule for community relations! It’s never been more important than right now, I think.

When it comes to business, please listen to your fellow members and work toward solutions that build community. Don’t tear down community in the process of making decisions; what good does that do, really?

Rather, focus on the issue and be patient. It’s healthy to challenge an idea: Ask questions to learn things and advance the solution making process. That’s good. But, never attack a person. That’s unacceptable and only creates divisions that make group decision-making much harder.

The theme of the Community Leadership Institute is “Positive Leadership”. I have insisted on that theme because I firmly believe that people follow solution seekers who listen to member input in pursuit of positive solutions. Healthy people and organizations want to solve problems and move on. They don’t like getting mired in silliness or ugliness.

Our challenge as leaders is developing a problem-solving culture that doesn’t tear people down but rather includes people in the process of building forward progress as a group. Let’s continue to make forward progress by each being a contributor. Your community needs you!

Speaking of the Community Leadership Institute, we were happy to have 48 ROC leaders from 24 ROCs participate in last October’s event in Columbus. My favorite comment this year came from Donna in Barrington, NH who said, “After this, my faith in human-kind is reborn!”

Indeed, I am truly fortunate to work with such gifted and dedicated community leaders as Donna and so many other ROC leaders. I thank you and our affiliate TA providers, staff and Board for an outstanding year with steady forward progress on our Strategic Plan goals.

We’re 12,000 strong and growing!

On a personal note, blog readers know that one of those 12,000 is now especially important to me: In two blogs in October you read about my mother settling into her new home in Resident Owned Community (ROC) in Concord, NH. Well, my wife and two daughters had dinner on Christmas Eve at her new house. Dinner was very good but the location was perfect! It could not have been better!

Thank you for a record-tying 2016. Thank you for all that you do to make resident ownership successful. Thank you for contributing to forward progress in 2017! Paul