The Best Advice I Ever Got on Building Community Came From the Back of a Chipotle Cup

Posted by Andrea Drennen, CMCA on July 24, 2015


I have a confession to make. I am an obsessive reader. Not in the cute, 'I read a book a week' kind of way. No. It's more pathetic than that. I cannot open a container without first reading the package. I read the back of the shampoo bottle. I read every billboard I pass on the road, even the ones on the other side of the highway - through my rear-view mirror.

So when my husband and I went to Chipotle for lunch recently, I was thrilled to learn that they have combined fast food fare with literary Skittles - little bite-sized candies of short stories, poems and essays printed on the bags and the backs of our iced tea cups. After reading my own cup, I grabbed his and proceeded to read it too.

The essay was called "Two Minute Cheer for the Home Team" by Barbara Kingsolver.

The ancient human social construct that once was common in this land was called community. We lived among our villagers, depending on them for what we needed. If we had a problem, we did not discuss it over the phone with someone in Mumbai. We went to a neighbor. We acquired food from farmers. We listened to music in groups, in churches or on front porches. We danced. We participated. Even when there was no money in it. Community is our native state. You play hardest for a hometown crowd. You become your best self. You know joy. This is not a guess, there is evidence. The scholars who study social well-being can put it on charts and graphs.

In the last 30 years our material wealth has increased in this country, but our self-described happiness has steadily declined. Elsewhere, the people who consider themselves very happy are not in the very poorest nations, as you might guess, nor in the very richest. The winners are Mexico, Ireland, Puerto Rico, the kinds of places we identify with extended family, noisy villages, a lot of dancing. The happiest people are the ones with the most community."

You know that viral video Double Rainbow? I feel like I had one of those moments right there in the Chipotle. I mean, here were two of my favorite things - great reading and community, brought together in the most surreal way on the back of an iced tea cup. What does it mean?

Here's what I love about it. We preach every day that the core function of a community association is to build a sense of community. It is such an important aspect, that it is actually the very first thing taught in the M-100 class that new managers take to begin their certification track.

It's easy to say we intend to build a sense of community, and there's plenty of advice on how to do that, but to be truly successful at it, we need a model. We need to be able to look at something and say, 'That's community." In this simple little essay by Barbara Kingsolver, she gives us a model, something to aspire to. A picture of what true community is, perfectly encapsulated on the back of a Chipotle cup.

Community is our native state.
You play hardest for a hometown crowd.
You become your best self.
You know joy."
"The happiest people are the ones with the most community."

Building community isn't just for your association members. We have a community of CAM professionals right here. And to celebrate you, We will be hosting the next CAMfire Conference in Orlando, FL February 3-5th. This is a 3-day conference for community association professionals. In addition to some great keynotes, networking opportunities, and stellar entertainment, we will have over 40 different sessions covering a range of topics for management company executives, community association managers and CAM accountants.

Whether you are a management professional who wants to get fired up about CAM Management, a TOPS user who needs training, a decision maker who wants to see new technologies coming to the industry, or a management company exec who is looking for best practices to increase your company's profitability, the CAMfire Conference is for you!

Click the image below to sign up now and get $150 off your tickets. Hurry, space is limited and this special ends soon!


*Image credit: Pixabay user stina_magnus

Click here to see a what your community looks like in TOPS [ONE].