Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Everything is Great. Why Change?

I love Radburn. I love the street that I live on, which is next to our cozy little R-park. I love my neighbors and the amazing friendships that we've formed over the years. I love that my children are growing up believing that everyone lives by a park, walks (or gets driven) to school and has neighborhood pools with a swim team. I'm sure they believe that summertime play groups with night swims and camp outs exist everywhere, and a once-a-year blow-out block party weekend with tons of activities, dancing and music is just what people do. I am so proud to live in Radburn and be fortunate enough to raise our children in this incredible community that I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

So why change anything? Everything is wonderfully perfect. Why mess around with that?

Radburn, as a National Historic Landmark, is truly a gem. Radburn, as a supportive community where people of varied backgrounds choose to volunteer their time to run programs and events that benefit residents of all ages, is once again truly a gem. But Radburn has issues. When you peel back the layers one soon discovers that while there are differing views by those who live here about how the community should be run, where money should be invested, and what type of management should be in place, there are a select few who also wield considerable power to ensure that their ideas are never challenged, and that their "people" are always taken care of.

Wait, what? What does that even mean? How can some people always retain power and take care of their friends? Isn't that a form of cronyism?

Yes. Yes it is.

Ok, but so what? As long as people are happy and the amenities are maintained, what's the big deal if the board behaves in a somewhat secretive fashion and takes care of its own?

That's an interesting question. Would people really care about how the board of trustees functions and how Radburn is governed if everything was being run really well and residents' issues were being addressed swiftly and without prejudice? What if the manager and the office were truly proactive about communicating with residents honestly, and were sincerely concerned about fostering a service minded culture amongst their employees?

Would people really care about the nomination process and system of governance?

What if residents' input was taken seriously by the board and thoughtfully discussed, deliberated, and then decided by trustees who's mission it is to not only provide proper stewardship of the Association's affairs, but to also encourage residents to reach out to the board to discuss matters of importance, knowing that trustees will consider all input seriously and will respond to residents professionally and courteously? What if the board operated with full transparency and consulted with the community before making decisions that would dramatically impact people's lives? What if the board demanded that each trustee attend a workshop to learn about the responsibility, ethics, legality, and commitment of serving on a board? What if trustees actually held each other accountable so that any perceived abuse of power, conflict of interest, or favors for friends would be addressed and dealt with before becoming a problem?

Would people really care about the nomination process and system of governance?

What if the manager and office staff were consistently trained and held to high standards of service? What if the manager was approachable, honest, helpful, and truly had all residents' interests in mind, regardless of who they are? What if there was a way to solicit feedback from residents that would shed light on things being done well while also uncovering areas for improvement (like emptying dog poop cans more often in the summer)?

What if the parks, pools, tennis courts, gardens, pathways, baseball field, tot lots and playgrounds were maintained in impeccable condition all the time; and programs were constantly being introduced and made available to residents throughout the year? What if the Grange was the crown jewel of our community - a resident-only recreation center that was ADA compliant and was a center for activities that residents of all ages could enjoy year round?

What if things were so good, with so many top notch programs for residents of all ages; with high quality service and honest, consistent communication from the board and manager, that there was really nothing to complain about except not having enough time to enjoy all the amenities?

Would people really be so adamant about changing the governance structure and nomination procedure?

I can't answer for everyone. But I probably wouldn't have an issue with it.