guest blog by Nila Ridings
I love phone calls like this one from an HOA/COA reform activist. She read Neighbors At War by Ward Lucas several months ago. And she has been doing more research and telling everybody about the CAI propaganda every chance she gets. She’s bought several boxes of Ward’s book and hands them to every legislator, city employee, and candidate she can shake hands with while sharing the plight of the suffering homeowners.
This activist reminds me of the movies; Norma Rae and the one about the environmental activist, Erin Brockovich. She’s professional, determined, and on a mission. We need 10,000 people just like her waking up the legislators!
Thinking there is a strong probability the CAI is contributing cash to political campaigns and knowing nobody can out money the CAI, she did something more effective. She marched into the campaign office of someone that will be very influential in helping her if he/she wins the seat. Lo and behold…who’s there? The candidate! Ms. Activist says, I’m here to help you with your campaign. I’m volunteering to work doing whatever you need, but I need to talk to you first. I have a serious problem in my HOA/COA and I am here to tell you the CAI is filling all of the candidates and legislators full of false information and it’s time for the homeowners’ side of the story to be heard. The office was small and intimate so they sat down for a nice long chat. It ended with Ms. Activist presenting this candidate with a copy of Neighbors At War! The candidate just happened to mention that tonight he/she was having dinner with a legislator with a title that starts with a “G” and Ms. Activist left feeling sure their conversation was going to be shared with others over dinner.
Anybody who has ever been involved with volunteering knows it’s much easier to write a check than it is to physically do the work. Ms. Activist can’t write a $50,000 check or take the candidate out to an upscale resort for a little “sweet talking” over a bottle of wine with a price tag equivalent to her house payment. But she’s willing to be a soldier with boots on the ground walking the campaign trail.
After our legislators passed the bill for the Kansas Uniform Common Interest Owners Bill Of Rights Act, I offered to help with the re-election campaigns for a senator and representative who truly were incredibly wonderful to work with throughout the entire legislative process. We went door to door in horrible heat and placed signs in the approved areas around the city. All signs had to be picked up within a day or two of the election.
After the results gathering at the hotel, I drove around picking up signs until daylight. They were both so exhausted, and boy did they ever appreciate my efforts to ease the additional demands of a campaign by pulling up the signs and delivering them to their homes. To be fair I should share, one of them was a Democrat and the other a Republican. I did it to show my gratitude. But all of us can do it to help the candidates who are gearing up now, just like Ms. Activist is planning to do.
Ask yourself, what would impress you the most? The check from the CAI? Or the HOA Reform Activist who walks with you for hours in the heat, talks with you over lunch, lightens your load when you’re weary, believed enough in you to sacrifice their personal time for no pay to help you achieve your goal, and gave you the opportunity to see with your own eyes the true character and grit of that once stranger who you have been told is either an apathetic homeowner that “should have read the CC&Rs” or possibly just another HOA “pariah?” Who would you remember and be willing to listen to?
This is a perfect time to recall the words of Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said.
People will forget what you did.
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”