In a wide-ranging discussion at last week's Northland Community Council meeting, members explored ways to increase involvement in the umbrella organization and in the civic associations it represents.
"How do we stay relevant?" President Emmanuel V. Remy asked in opening the conversation. "How do we offer the best to the community organizations that make up this organization?"
The monthly roundtable topic comes up at a time when several NCC members, some of long standing, have had voting privileges suspended and face expulsion for failing to have a representative at seven, eight, nine and even 12 consecutive meetings.
Remy said action to remove the associations that are in violation of the bylaws will not be taken at the Dec. 3 holiday dinner meeting, in keeping with the spirit of the season, but he asked Secretary Brandon L. Boos to reach out to those members one last time to notify them they could be expelled from the NCC as soon as January.
Lack of involvement is something that plagues all volunteer organizations these days, Remy pointed out.
"It's not always easy when we lead such busy lives," he said.
Representatives of member organizations talked about the ways they try to get residents of their communities to participate in neighborhood activities, with some frankly admitting they have had little success.
"There's a direct correlation to the health of a neighborhood when you've got strong civic associations," Remy said. "The stronger we can make our organizations, the better."
Several participants said they use Nextdoor.org, a free service that lets residents of specific neighborhoods who sign up exchange emails about events, concerns, developments and other issues. This service sometimes seems to work better than establishing a neighborhood page on Facebook or creating a website, Remy said.
NCC Vice President Gerry O'Neill, who is also president of the Westerville Woods Civic Association, said some members of his 150-home development go out of their way to welcome all new residents, including people renting homes. Reaching out to tenants in this way can make them feel more involved in the community, Remy suggested.
Boos said his Salem Civic Association began at monthly meetings of the 880-home subdivision two years ago to come up with tasks and projects that are then assigned to volunteers.
"Once people volunteered, stuff got done, and once stuff got done, more people volunteered," he said.
Minerva Park, with 562 homes, usually has all the board members of the civic association on hand for monthly meetings, but only a handful of residents, said Bob Gale, the association's NCC representative.
The 33 households that make up Rolling Ridge, a relatively recent member of the NCC, turn out about 11 at board meetings, representative Rick Cashman said. When an issue of concern to the condo association arises, he added, the board members seek 100 percent involvement of residents.
"It's just a matter of putting the time in," Cashman said.
Remy said he hopes to turn the community council's summer picnic meeting in August into an overall gathering where civic associations can recruit new residents to join by explaining the benefits of membership.
"That's what I'd like to see," he added.