When you plan your apartment parties or your resident retention program in general, you need to think about the psychological aspect to how your residents connect, and why they connect. One of these types of connection-builders are large, unique events that cause large groups of people to come together. Growing up, I always remembered how interesting it was to see how people came together in the neighborhood after a storm. This was a single family development, so it isn’t exactly apples to apples, but after a big storm, especially when the power went out, suddenly everybody would be in their front yards, chatting with their neighbors they hadn’t spoken to for years to discuss what had happened. Did anybody know when the power was coming back on? My roof was damaged, how did yours fare? These were people who literally hadn’t said a word to each other for 2 or 3 years, and suddenly they were pulled together by this common issue.
When it comes to creating common-threads among neighbors, there are both positive and negative types. The storm would be considered negative, obviously, as well as how an increase in crime will make people “huddle up” more. But obviously, we do not want to wish a storm upon our property to inspire some sort of connection building, so we need to think of positive elements that can inspire this type of activity.
I think some of the best events and situations that facilitate this type of connection building are competitive programs, such as sports. For example, this year the Texans football team is going to the playoffs for the very first time. People who would never talk to each other previously can now talk endlessly about player injuries, amazing rookie performances, and other nuances of the game. This experience brings people together and allows them to make connections where they otherwise might not be able to. Plus, sports creates somewhat of a defensive posture that requires everybody to become closer – kind of an “us versus them” mentality.
But also what could your community do specifically to create camaraderie? What about an intramural sports team? It doesn’t matter that they aren’t pros, they can represent your community, and you can hail their successes or pat them on the back in defeat. They are the community’s team, and everybody can rally around them. I also wrote an Olympic style apartment party that could definitely inspire the “us versus them” mentality.
In the end, however, you must remember that these are just building blocks that can easily topple. In my neighborhood, after the power came back on, after the roofs were all fixed, the “support beams” of this new community vibe disappeared, and just like before, we were alone in our bubbles.