The Art of Building Community

“The Art of Building Community” is a series of posts exploring the process of rebuilding a neighborhood association known as Redwood Heights Neighborhood Association (RHNA).

In the previous post of this series, I mentioned that SCORE provides a plethora of resources for small businesses, which can easily be adapted for associations. The first section of the SCORE executive summary describes the company or business, and should address the following items:

  • When was the company formed?
  • Describe the venture’s purpose
  • Choose whether to develop a new product, or service, or combination

Sometimes it is hard to think of all-volunteer organizations as businesses; however, if you don’t, things can get away from you. To be successful, an association needs to have a clearly defined purpose.

In the case of RHNA, these items were relatively easy to address, as they were outlined in the current bylaws. However, looking at these items from a branding perspective, where we considered the association’s characteristics, values, and attributes, we realized the objectives required updating.

Therefore, the purpose of this post is to discuss the changes RHNA made and what it would include in its executive summary.


The association incorporated in 1944 as Redwood Heights Improvement Association. The DBA name, Redwood Heights Neighborhood Association, came into being sometime in the 80s.


Its objectives, before review, were as follows:

  1. To preserve, advance and protect the general social and civic welfare of Redwood Heights residents.
  2. To promote and cultivate a friendly, diverse and inclusive neighborhood.
  3. To obtain for said district superior school, recreational, and other civic facilities.
  4. To do all things lawful to be done in the accomplishment of the foregoing and generally to have and exert any and all other rights of nonprofit corporations of this class in the furtherance of the above stated objectives.

Over the last 72 years, bylaws revisions occurred occasionally to better reflect the community’s changing needs. They were last updated in 2006, thus a review and modifications were in order.  From this review, the Board of Directors determined two important facets were missing from the objectives – social justice and environment.

Social justice, as defined by is “the distribution of advantages and disadvantages within a society”, which can mean different things to different people. That being the case, for the association, the intent was to ensure the association strives to represent all residents justly. Our neighborhood is a beautiful mix of all kinds of people, so the association should be equally representative. It is really about doing the right thing for the neighborhood as a whole by considering all perspectives. 

Environment is another word with many meanings, so for RHNA’s purpose it means taking care of the area where we live. It includes activities such as gardening, Earth Day events, emergency preparedness, trash pickup events, working with city agencies to improve or maintain our city parks, and more.

Both of these items strengthen and support the brand image the association strives to build.


As an all-volunteer association, the association is a service organization designed to serve our community. In other words, it is all about finding ways to better the community in which we live.


With these items addressed, the foundation for moving forward with rebooting this association is in place. Changes to the bylaws’ objectives will occur early next year; however, the mission statement was revised and now reads:

Redwood Heights Neighborhood Association (RHNA), supported and guided by its membership, works to advance and protect the social, environmental, and civic welfare of our neighborhood by promoting sociability, safety, inclusivity, social justice, and environmental responsibility.

Having a clearly defined purpose is one of the most important things an organization can do to be successful. At this point in the game, I am feeling pretty good about our newly defined objectives and mission statement. The next section of the executive summary addresses the services RHNA provides, which I will cover in the next post of this series.

To learn more about the Redwood Heights Neighborhood Association, please visit

The Art of Building Community

Previous: Getting Started                                                Next: It’s A Service (coming soon)