How Residents Shape Their Community

Reed BrowningBy Resident Reed Browning —

Kendal at Granville is a community. One of the reasons life at Kendal is good is that we want to maximize opportunities for all residents to shape their own lives, both as individuals and in groups. I’ll focus on the latter goal.

To realize the aim of creating a sense of community, the founding residents in 2005 created the Kendal at Granville Residents Association, inevitably called KAGRA for short. All residents of Kendal at Granville are members of KAGRA simply by virtue of living in the community. KAGRA’s task is to encourage, facilitate and financially enable collective resident enterprises.

What sorts of enterprises am I talking about? Well, for starters, here is a partial list of current resident organizations: the monthly newsletter (Tower Lines), the resident literary magazine, the genealogy club, the bridge club, the book club, the diversity club, the woodwork shop, the art studio, the Kendaliers (our resident singing group), the library, the computer users’ group, the fiber arts club, the Gallery (our art display space), Meet and Greet, and the committees that choose speakers and entertainment groups that come to Kendal.

How are these groups budgeted? Actually, it’s pretty simple. Each group submits a budget request to KAGRA each year. A draft budget is assembled and distributed to the general membership. Only after KAGRA gives its assent does the budget become official, setting the financial framework for the forthcoming fiscal year.

And where does the money thus budgeted come from? We have an annual fundraising drive. All residents are invited to contribute to the support of community activities. There is no suggested contribution. Instead, what is sought is widespread resident participation in the fundraising campaign. Happily, we have never fallen short of our budget goal.

How do new groups get started? Well, any time two or more people, perhaps newcomers to Kendal, come up with a proposal for a new resident organization and find that they might need financial help to launch and sustain the activity, they turn to KAGRA, where they will find an organization eager to assist in turning the hope into a reality.

Finally, how is KAGRA leadership chosen? By elections, of course. KAGRA Council has nine members, with each member serving a rotating three-year term. Council then chooses from its own ranks the KAGRA officers — President, President-Elect, Secretary, and Treasurer — for the coming fiscal year.

Speaking from 10 years of experience with this system, I can report that while we may not reach decisions as swiftly as some would wish, KAGRA does not fail the resident body it is designed to serve. We honor the Quaker principle of reaching decisions by consensus. We have cultivated the habit of listening attentively and sympathetically. When there are differences of opinion, we value the maintenance of comity and community. In short, the residents’ governance system balances civility, responsiveness, and openness. And that’s why it works.