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If you live in a planned unit community, such as a named development with a number of houses or townhouses that charges a monthly maintenance fee, chances are you have an HOA, or a homeowner association. HOAs are traditionally governed by residents and take charge of things like noise complaints, maintenance requests and publicizing changes to the community. Some HOAs use newsletters to communicate with their residents, sharing integral community news such as pest inspection timelines and siding painting schedules.
Man on the Street
Many people enjoy seeing their name (and face) in print, but few get the opportunity. Your newsletter has the opportunity to give a few people each issue their 15 minutes of fame with a man on the street section. Each issue, come up with a topic, such as What's your favorite thing about living here? What would you like to see improved?;How long have you lived here? Solicit answers at community meetings, public areas such as the on-site playground or from your community's website. If room permits, request or take a digital photo to add to the comments. Each newsletter can have a different question; you can even ask non-community questions, such as residents' plans for the holidays, favorite local restaurants or the last movies they saw.
Step Back in Time
Your administrative offices probably have stacks of blueprints, old photographs and records from when ground was first broken on the community. A single article or multi-part story on the creation of your community may serve as an interesting newsletter topic. Residents can compare their streets now to when your community first began. Statistics such as the cost to maintain a home when the community first opened compared to now, how many people originally moved in compared to your current resident total and photos of all of the construction and restoration can give readers a glimpse into what led up to the place they are living in. If possible, you can interview the original planners and construction workers, asking them to comment on the process, how long it took, any bumps in the road and whether the community appears similar to the original plan.
Feature a Profile
Whether your community spans multiple blocks or just one cul de sac, chances are your neighbors may not all be familiar with each other. An idea for a recurring newsletter column is to feature an in-depth profile of an HOA resident each issue. You can ask people who are interested to submit their names by email, or you can choose randomly from your HOA roster or stop by a public area such as the pool to generate interest. Arrange a selection of questions that span both the serious -- such as how long they have resided in the community, their favorite things about their home -- and fun -- hobbies, best vacation, collections, favorites such as ice cream flavor and television show. Include a few photos.
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