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The Beauty of Community Diversity

Living in common interest developments means that residents are able to enjoy communal living. With the choice to live in a community, there are so many benefits of the corporate structure, but also to embracing the best byproduct, which is the community that we inherit! By definition, a community means a group of people existing in a place that share a purpose, a sense of belonging and to communicate with each other. In our daily lives, we have many opportunities to build a sense of community, whether it be with families of our children's school, a congregation with religious affiliation, or a networking group. A community within our place of residence provides the ability to build a really tight and close relationship with those around us. We are afforded the opportunity to come home and see and speak with our neighbors, to discuss important issues with one another, and to find people who certainly share common goals and who become part of our lives. Often times, we see that neighbors of common interest developments become close friends and have much in common with one another. Homeowners Associations are usually comprised of residents that are multi-cultured and come from all walks of life. There are young families, as well as retired couples. Neighbors may be devout Christians or atheist. It’s interesting that often times, when we truly get to know someone for who they are, their racial, cultural or religious differences are embraced. My parents are originally from Iran, while I was born and raised in Los Angeles. My father is Jewish, and my mother is Muslim. My sister and I were raised in the Jewish faith. In elementary school, my sister and I attended a Christian private school, and it was wonderful to feel welcomed and embraced by the students and teachers despite our cultural and religious differences. I made great friendships that lasted through adulthood! Looking back, I know that I would have felt devastated if I was ostracized, bullied or felt unwelcome. I'm sure that I would be a very different person today if I had not had that experience. After elementary school, I went to a Jewish school and learned more about my Jewish background. At that school, we had a class about religious studies, where each week we would learn about a new religion and take field trips to temples or mosques for that particular religion. The experience was truly beautiful, allowing us to find similarities in other beliefs as in our own, permitting us to expand our knowledge and open our minds to other cultures and religions, and to learn the most important lesson of tolerance and acceptance. As I got older and started my career in community management, I felt that the opportunity for connection was so beautiful. The holidays were especially my favorite time of year, when people really wanted to beautify the complex and share their holiday spirit and joy. It was always disheartening to hear the few complaints about the chosen décor, indicating that the religion or holiday wasn’t representative of their own personal beliefs. I wish I could share my upbringing and experiences with people and share the beauty of acceptance and embracement, despite not having the same beliefs. Living in a common interest development requires collaboration and compromise. A single individual is not provided the opportunity to make decisions for the group, and the structure of common interest developments requires the input of its members in order to make decisions on behalf of, and for the betterment of the whole. In recent years, we have watched people become more self-centric and focus on their own preferences. Collaboration and compromise seem to be diminishing, which attacks the spirit and intention of community living in its basic form and intention. We see neighbor disputes with people who are unwilling to have civilized conversations with one another, or Board Members who argue and object to others' opinions. While this is not the common theme, this does happen often enough. This year has provided many unique challenges. The climate in our country has been tense, and the differences of people with varying backgrounds, opinions, and cultures have been highlighted. Yet, we all have experienced this pandemic and the incredible struggles that have come with it, together. We have found ways to support one another, connect with each other, and generally slow down to focus on what is important. The year is coming to a close, which means that our holidays are also approaching. We don't know if families will be able to celebrate in their traditional ways. Nonetheless, this time of year has always represented a time where many connect with family members, friends and loved ones. It's a time to reflect on goals for the following year and appreciate the people and circumstances of their current year. This year, there might be more people who are forced to remain at home during the holidays. It may be a Zoom family dinner, or even a get together with a small group of families, but I'll bet that more than ever, people across the country will be spending more time in their homes during the holidays than ever before. But most importantly, we are reminded that in community living, we have the opportunity to learn about and embrace our neighbors' differences and cultures. We can work together to uplift each other and the community in which we reside. And this is a great time to learn more about people who differ from us religiously or culturally by making others feel included and respected.

Living in common interest developments means that residents are able to enjoy communal living. With the chance to live in a community, there are so many benefits of the corporate structure, but let's embrace the best byproduct, which is the community that we inherit!

Many communities will spend a great deal of time, money and thought in capturing holiday decorations. The goal behind these efforts is usually to recreate the community that people often have outside of their homes and reflect, respect and celebrate everyone's individuality at home. Often times, communities, or the people who volunteer their time to create a beautiful and festive environment for the whole, will focus on decorating neutrally or with most prevalent representations of groups or religions. Sometimes they decorate with what they personally know or experience, not having experience with other cultures. We do occasionally hear disdain from a few community members who feel that their background is not represented. Most often, the Board or Committees who volunteer their time, would welcome input from community members and volunteers to help expand the representation of multiple ethnicities and religions! But to those people who don’t appreciate what the holidays, decorations and community represents, I welcome them to be open-minded and support people of other cultures or backgrounds. I welcome each of us to make an effort to say hello and get to know a neighbor that we have never chatted with during this holiday season. All in all, the holidays, and especially this year, is a time to embrace cultural differences and ethnic differences and support our neighbors in their beliefs. It's a time to volunteer and get involved for wider representation and inclusivity of all cultures and ethnicities rather than focusing on what may have been excluded. It's a time to be grateful for the people who expend their energy in trying to make home for the whole, a more welcoming place, even if their practices are different. It's a time to lean on our communities and spend time with one another. And for this year, it will most certainly be at home for many many people. After all, community living is just that! It's the opportunity to build bridges and commonalities with others as opposed to focusing on our differences. This year, I welcome people from all walks of life to embrace the differences of those in our communities, to be open to differences, and to uplift and collaborate with one another. For the last several months, the people who live around us have been more prevalently seen than any other groups, and this is a great reminder about the joys of community living! I wish everyone a very happy holiday season!

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