Good grief my head is spinning. There is so much going on in the world today, and I don’t mean this generation or 2017 – I mean TODAY. Within America’s borders and outside, I do not recall so much going on at one time. I know, I know, I am 35, but last night my 73-year-old father said the same thing, so I now cite an official source.

I wanted to list all the current events that I’ve been watching and reading about. I started to think outside the obvious and to events happening around the world, to remind readers of what the 24-hour news cycle is not covering. Perhaps it was to flex my level of informed by telling you of something you may not know. Perhaps it was for my own benefit, and to jot down all events whirling through my mind and attempt to connect or have some clarity of it all. That in part was the final point I reached. With all that is going on, I ask myself “how can I connect?”

My mind focused on a book I read my final year in school, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” by Robert D. Putnam. The author shows how influences like technology, work, and suburban life over time have disconnected us from family, friends, neighbors, and community. Personally, I would not call it a “great read”. It is massive and full of data stacked upon facts; fortunately, I was only assigned one chapter. However, it is an important and relevant read. One of its points is that with everything going on, a way we can (re)connect is through civic engagement. Did you know that joining and participating in one group cuts your odds of dying over the next year in half? Further, joining two groups cuts it by three-quarters.

The point brought me first to those living in community associations. Whether you know it or not (and I hope you do), you are under a private contract with your association. I mean this in a positive manner, as you have an extra layer of civic engagement accessible to you that others living outside an association do not. Sadly, not all take advantage, as we saw the reaction in 2013 of a bill enacted in Nevada addressing bullying within community associations. There is also a bill pre-filed for the 2018 session in Florida addressing bullying in 55-and-older communities. However, it is important that those living in a community association realize they have a separate, unique opportunity to have a focused relationship with their neighbors and improve their immediate community.

The point brought me second to CAI Members. My colleagues and I work on behalf a wonderful and broad membership base. I’ve attended local luncheons, statewide conferences, and internationally-attended seminars, and it is apparent at every level that a strong community exists within our membership. Like neighbors, not all have a strong relationship with another. Disputes exist and feelings get hurt. Despite these differences, members have a separate, and unique opportunity to focus on improving the communities they live in or serve.

Today CNN has an information box slapped in the middle of its landing page that features up-to-the-minute headlines. As I am writing this the most recent headlines are 6, 9, 12, and 18 minutes old, all on a different topic. In a sense, I am connected, but less so with my neighbors and more so with North Korea’s miniaturized nuclear warhead.

With all that is going on in the world, homeowners living in associations have a unique opportunity to connect with their neighbors and focus on serving their community. Participating in organizations like CAI or other civic associations will provide a specific purpose and a level of harmony that is unable to be achieved by sitting back and watching the nightly news. I encourage you to step back from the television and disconnect from the constant stream of headlines which surrounds us these days and try to reconnect with friends, family, neighbors and your community. It’s a scary world out there, but with a strong community at your side, there will always be light after the storm.

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