“Be the change you want to see in this world”
- Mahatma Gandhi
This is a very powerful quote by Gandhiji, where he advocates taking responsibility for the changes that we wish to see in this world, rather than waiting passively for good to happen.
A housing society or an apartment complex is a microcosm of the entire country, where a group of people from different cultures, religions and ethnic backgrounds live together in harmony. They provide a support system to one another and work together towards a common goal of peaceful co-existence. Despite their busy lives, voluntary task groups are formed within these housing complexes, only because they want to bring about a change and make a difference to the existence of the residents. These people are always looking for ways to make their fellow housing inhabitants’ lives easier.
When a task force or a Resident Welfare Association (RWA) gets together and brainstorms for ideas, various initiatives or best practices are put forth, where progressive or innovative thoughts are produced.
Let us look at some best practices and ways to drive change and bring about a happy co-existence in apartment complexes.
It is most imperative to have a sound and a well-balanced representation of the entire housing complex, covering all aspects of demography; in terms of culture, religion, ethnicity and age.
A well-designed plan in place
What is the purpose of the managing committee? What are their goals and what do they want to achieve? Are there plans devised for the future? These questions could be answered with a well-thought-out and designed plan for the committee members, covering some points such as.
· Listing out goals in a well-defined manner
· Preparing a budget
· Fund collection and allocation
· Listing out roles and responsibilities
· Allocating people in charge
· Finding the right service providers
· Evaluating them
· Supervising them and getting the job done
· Tallying the accounts
· Encouraging sustainable living, being kind to birds and animals, recycling, cleanliness, rain-water harvesting and composting kitchen and waste management
· Empowering women and children
· Having a backup task force to take the community into the future
Do you know who your neighbours are?
Unfortunately, in today’s times, long working hours, social media and online lives have taken away such a huge chunk of our lives that we have forgotten to live in the real or the physical world. We have forgotten the simple pleasures of life, like saying hello or smiling at our neighbours and getting to know who they are. Organizing regular wellness programs and health check-ups would not only take care of the well-being of residents, but it would also increase social interactions and increase the dynamics of community living.
Programs for children after-school hours
Parents are always on the lookout for opportunities to ensure that their kids learn something new and creative each day. Though it might not be possible to have these programs on a daily basis, what with playtime and homework, it could be possible to design creative programs like dance, drama, cooking, hobby and art classes regularly. This could be a great way for children to make friends within their housing complexes and for parents to bond with each other.
Communication, Communication, Communication
Group Emails, Newsletters, Notice Boards and Whatsapp Groups can be created to update residents about the progress of various initiatives, upcoming events, CSR activities and other information. An interesting newsletter and engaging notice boards could keep the RWAs connected to its residents and to one another.
The website www.greencleanindia.com offers a dedicated webpage to all the housing societies that are registered on this website. They can display images and information about their society and can also put up information such as Notices, Circulars and News about the residents of their society. Fellow residents are free to visit the website at any given time and gather information about the happenings of their housing society.
Giving more than you get
When somebody said that “To find yourself is to lose yourself completely in the service of others”, they were not kidding. Adopting a local school, visiting senior citizens in an old-age home and bringing a smile to their faces, cleaning up a neighbourhood, painting a wall to bring cheer to a street are some ways that residents can give back to the community. It would be much easier to donate some money or get somebody else to do the job. But involving the residents to roll up their sleeves and get the job done themselves would be far more fun, satisfying and fulfilling. These kinds of activities bring residents together, help in getting to know each other better in a giving environment and in spending quality time with one another.
Formal or informal meetings on weekends
Most RWAs make the mistake of organizing formal or informal meetings on weekdays, when the participation of residents is low, due to being away at work or in trying to get back home in time for the meetings and getting stuck in traffic.
A fun way to do this would be to hold these meetings on a Saturday or a Sunday and combine it with lunch, dinner, high tea, entertainment, a show, a guest lecture or games. Ensure that each meet has something different and creative to offer and the interaction amongst residents is very high, so that people look forward to these programs, instead of groaning about attending such events.
There is no age for learning
As long as RWAs understand this adage in its complete entirety, it is a lesson well learnt. It is never easy to look after a housing society or a residential complex and it is often a challenge to keep up with the times and to learn new things such as new-age tools, maintenance software and communication portals. The task force members could look at updating their skills in maintenance management or identify other residents who could do a better job in picking up these skills. As long as there is learning all around and somebody is there who is up-to-date with the flow of things, everyone is sorted.
Great things can happen and even history can be altered when a group of like-minded souls, as in RWAs, get together with complete faith in their beliefs and a fire in their belly, to become influencers and opinion leaders, to bring about a change to their society, to their environment and eventually, to their country as well!
Green Clean India (www.greencleanindia.com) is an initiative to exhibit the collective power of Housing Societies, by providing a common platform across the country to interact and exchange thoughts that best suit community living. For any further query or suggestion on this subject you may write to the Green Clean India team by mailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org