That was a great read! I’ve had experience in a variety of community sizes, almost all of them starting at a negative point. The feeling wasn’t as cozy, the games were more competitive… but I have to say I agree with about everything here. I saw so many things I’ve been doing without giving it thought, you’ve expressed it well.
I’d like to drop a point on my experience: Even if you face negative players who may not take in your kindness, it does not matter. Be kind and understanding to all players. For negativity, just hearing them out and accepting real mistakes will go miles. As you said, it’s an effort and it takes time. But if you are genuine, people will turn around.
I think this all works similar to how to raise kids. If you treat them like kids, don’t take them seriously etc, there will be problems. If you treat them like adults (while keeping mind that they are kids and bring that flexibility) and set proper expectations and keep up to the rules you set, they adapt quickly and you grow not only a bond but also a good, respectful communication.