Spring is finally here. And we are off to a great start! At a personal level, my family and I are looking forward to be able to spend time outside working around the house and continue projects we've placed on hold. And for the first time, I've had success in cultivating hellebores in our garden and enjoyed the blooms of this herbaceous plant. Small win! More importantly, Sara and I attended our first networking event, called EXPOnential at Harley-Davidson this past Thursday, April 13. Our goal was to socialize with various Monona East-Side businesses and raise visibility for LENA. Thanks to Sara, LENA now has a business cards which were handed out to almost all of the vendors at the event. Shout out to LENA Sponsor, Monona East Side Business Alliance for a wonderful time and the open-invite. We look forward to many more in the future. And the added bonus; we even ran into two Lake Edge neighbors! Unbeknownst to one of whom is a long time resident of LENA!
The surprised revelation reminded us that we have more work to do. At this month's meeting last week, we discussed the overall engagement from our membership as well as the neighborhood in a whole. Anecdotally we have seen some increase in neighborhood engagement through the various social activities and events held in the past year however, the overall membership to LENA is very low. We ended 2016 with 156 households of the possible ~1100 total and it was the most since LENA's inception in 1981. Last year, we ended with up at least two events per quarter and we are on track this year with at least the same number of events, if not more. At this rate, in order for LENA to be sustainable, one or more of the following will need to occur:
- Increase overall membership by at least double (to at least 300 households or ~27%)
- Decease the number of events held per year
- Reconsider the membership fees
- Increase business sponsorship
- Reconsider the event structure (e.g. from no fees to charging minimal fees to help with costs)
Before we dive into one or more of the options above, I'd like for us to learn about the perceived lack of engagement. It is interesting however to note that given a particular "charged" topic, we have seen neighbors turn out in large numbers and yet for the "day-to-day" or topics aimed to build and engage are perceived to be far less important. Well, we don't know and won't know unless we ask. Therefore, we would like to know the reasons for not becoming a LENA member or if you are, the reasons for not actively participating in meetings and/or events. We'd love to hear from you! Send us your thoughts and ideas via email.