What Values Do You and Your Community Live By?

Do you take the values you live by for granted? Do you ever discuss them? Or do you assume that you and the people you associate with agree?

And who is your community, anyway?  Your family? Your neighbors? Your clubs or special interest groups? Your living community?

In all likelihood, you have several communities. And the values that determine the way the people in each group function may be different from one of them to another.

But I’ve come to think that we don’t do anywhere near enough talking about underlying values that shape the way we function both separately and together.

Shaping Values of a Living Community

I live in a building in the South Bronx that contains 11 residential condominiums and two commercial spaces. I know all of my neighbors, but being a condo as opposed to a coop, we have no approval over who buys the units.

In this building, we all know one another in a way that you don’t always find in New York apartment buildings. In our last building, we didn’t know the names of the people on our floor despite having been there for nine years.

But in this building, we do.  We’re a mixed group. A doctor. A lawyer. A librarian. A garbage man. A ConEd employee. Several artists and a couple of singers. An artists’ rep. A playwright. Some young, and some retirees. Black, white and Asian.

We had a condo meeting last week and started a conversation about values.  Specifically, we talked about having a discussion about values. And that’s a good first step.

So at our next meeting or condo party, we’re going to structure a discussion in which everyone will be asked to give their thoughts about values they believe should be adopted for our community.  Once we come up with a collection of values we agree on, we’ll probably post them in the lobby — alongside the official building department notices.

I do love that idea. Imagine these hanging on the wall in the lobby:

certificate of occupancy
fire inspection certificate
Statement of Values — respect, inclusion, creativity, kindness

Ooo-wheee … it makes me smile. 🙂

What Values Does Your Community Live By?

Our conversation is still in its infancy. Will we include integrity? Diversity? Respect for privacy? Tolerance? Cooperation? Something about the environment? How about values to shape the way we as a community function with regard to the neighborhood around us?

I’m sure that as we discuss these issues we will find some areas in which we come together and other areas that we don’t agree on. But I think that having the conversation will help shape the future of our little community. And publicly posting what we come up with will help keep our community values alive.

Imagine that you were the next person to buy a condo in our building.  And in your package of information that includes financials and by-laws and insurance documents, you also get a statement of community values. What would you think?

What are the values you live by? What would you include in a statement of values that sets the standards for the communities that make up your life.

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Consider the Values Your Community Lives By

This week, have a discussion of values with one of your communities. Perhaps over a family dinner. Or maybe just with some friends when you sit together over a glass of wine. See if you can come up with a list of ten values you all agree on. And then create a little plan of to keep them in the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Share your ideas about values in the comments below. Or, head on over to Facebook and share your ideas there.

  • Lauren Kugler

    What a great idea for a condo building!

    We did something similar as a Valley-wide community a couple years ago through what we call the One Valley Prosperity Project. A wide variety of public input led to the identification of seven community values: http://onevalleyprosperity.com/document/community-values-summary-report

    The values served as a framework to develop priorities and action items. We now have a One Valley Prosperity Strategy in place. It’s not perfect, but we’ve seen increased collaboration and cooperation within our small, rural community: http://www.onevalleyprosperity.com/onevalleyprosperitystrategy

    -Lauren
    Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley

    • Andrea Kihlstedt

      HI Lauren. Thanks so much for sharing this with me. I’m going to send it to the people in my building as a great example. Warm regards to you and Pam! a