Better Together in 2022!
I am hopeful the new year finds you, your family and community well.
The past year was trying, and while we enter 2022 coping with another surge, I am more optimistic this January than last because we know so much more, and we have so much more going for us.
Resident Owned Communities (ROCs) kept building and growing in 2021. We are pleased to welcome 21 new ROCs – who together have preserved a total of 1,633 homesites – in nine states. This includes the new co-ops in California and Missouri, both first-time ROC states! Congratulations to the new resident owners!
These communities are joining a national network of now 287 ROCs and 19,600 households in 20 states!
Every new co-op purchase represents one fewer community that can be traded in the speculative commercial real estate market; one more safe and secure community that is in the hands of the people who live there.
Taken as a whole, this national network of locally owned communities represents one of the largest community owners in the U.S. Of course, the others are corporate owners.
That said, we all remain mindful that we stand together. Small companies cannot operate entirely independent of others if they’re going to survive in today’s economy. That’s why we talk about Better Together and work to create connections among co-op communities. There’s so much to gain by being connected to other like communities and co-ops.
Better Together is meant to reflect this commitment, and several examples of it in 2021 inspired me:
- When the deep cold impacted Texas last spring, we saw ROCs in New Hampshire providing financial support to their peers in Texas. We saw that same spirit again this fall in Massachusetts when high winds took down trees in a co-op. More recently, the Sans Souci Co-op in Boulder County also sustained damage due to high winds. This GoFundMe page went right up to lend a hand.
Better Together is happening in co-ops and it is happening among co-ops. Indeed, no co-op is an island! We stand together!
- With infrastructure being discussed in Washington, D.C., ROC leaders on the ROC Association’s Policy & Advocacy Committee called their U.S. Representatives and Senators and got support for community infrastructure funds for ROCs into the Build Back Better bill! That bill is still being debated in Congress. It may be voted on in sections now so calls from ROC leaders for the $500 million ROC infrastructure bill is super critical. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit rocusa.org/bbb.
- The ROC Association’s Outreach & Education Committee made a historic number of presentations to new and established ROCs throughout the country this past year. They have a nifty request form online if you’d like to have them present at one of your meetings!
- The Association also has a monthly Better Together call if you’d like to join and ask this group of peers a question. There’s also a form online for that!
With so much going on in ROCs and by those who support ROCs – from Technical Assistance Providers to bankers to home manufacturers and beyond – we decided a podcast would help get some of these voices out to you directly. Please give it a listen, and if you have an idea for a guest or subject, be sure to let us know. It’s been a lot of fun and I love hearing from people who have listened. Thank you!
I began turning the page on 2021 long before the calendar turned because we needed to revamp some to better support ROCs and to serve more states more quickly. Announcing changes to kick-off 2022 meant planning beginning last Spring. A few of the changes are big ones:
- The much-loved Mary O’Hara is going to take on a new role at ROC USA – she’s going to provide support for the ROC Association in a new service unit called ROC Movement. This is huge! The Board of Directors placed “supporting ROC leaders as movement leaders” as the first goal in our current Strategic Plan. The goal is that prominent for two basic reasons:
- ROC leaders are the most persuasive advocates for your communities. We at ROC USA and those in the Network of Technical Assistance Providers serve important roles for sure, but as peers and advocates, your voices and opinions are very powerful. Our job is to ensure you have support to be the best advocates you can be.
- We want to ensure that ROC USA has and holds ROCs themselves at the center of everything we do, now and in the future. That only comes through investment in the capacity of ROC leaders to serve on the ROC USA Board of Directors, and take leadership roles in key areas of education, training, and peer networking as well as policy.
I am super excited to see what will be accomplished by ROC leaders over the next several years!
- Two new executive leaders joined ROC USA to make Mary’s move possible:
- Colleen Lindecker has been here nearly a year to take our traditionally in-person based training online. She and her team will be out of the gates this Spring with some excellent offerings. I can’t wait!
- Rob Wilson is just on to head up the Network of 11 nonprofit affiliates that provide training in 20 states today. No day goes by that we are not thankful for the partnership with our affiliated non-profits. We simply could not be in far-flung places without them and their talented and dedicated team members.
Rob is also overseeing the development of the new ROC USA Direct program which will provide new ROC development services in states not served by affiliates. The result: We can now provide development services in all U.S. states!
It will start slow – Missouri was our first state for ROC USA Direct – and Pennsylvania will be the second state. And as a national team, the size of the communities we can serve will be larger to start but it is a more agile approach, and everyone is excited about it.
There’s more to get into and we’ll do so in an upcoming podcast. Until then, thank you for all you do in support of Resident Owned Communities and for demonstrating that we are in fact Better Together. I feel that every day, all year-long. ROC on!
-Paul Bradley, President, ROC USA®