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Community: The Structure of Belonging
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Community: The Structure of Belonging

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  681 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
Modern society is plagued by fragmentation. The various sectors of our communities--businesses, schools, social service organizations, churches, government--do not work together. They exist in their own worlds. As do so many individual citizens, who long for connection but end up marginalized, their gifts overlooked, their potential contributions lost. This disconnection a ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers (first published 2008)
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The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. ChristensenFlawless Consulting by Peter BlockThe Secrets of Consulting by Gerald M. WeinbergThe Lords of Strategy by Walter Kiechel IIIBlue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim
Best on Consulting
34th out of 121 books — 26 voters
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale CarnegieThe Power of Habit by Charles DuhiggStumbling on Happiness by Daniel Todd GilbertWhere Good Ideas Come From by Steven JohnsonCultivating Communities of Practice by Etienne Wenger
Community Builder
12th out of 17 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,859)
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Two years ago I read this book for the first time and I keep returning to it. The questions it addresses are important: How does positive change take place in a complex social system? How is a collective created and transformed?

It is our custom to look at the life of organizations through the prism of problems and frictions. Our gaze is diagnostic, wants to understand what goes wrong in order to provide a remedy. And these remedies are often formulaic and lifeless and fail to live up to their p
Kristine Morris
Aug 07, 2012 Kristine Morris rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
I have read (and used) Peter Block’s book Flawless Consulting over the years and the epiphany it gave me when I first read it and one I like to think I strive towards is the concept of being authentic. Authenticity, vulnerability and compassion are big topics these days. Go to You Tube and search for Bréné Brown and Karen Armstrong. Block shifts the conversation that is normally aimed at the individual to that of the community.

In the last chapter, Block writes that he has lived on the margin mu
Oct 28, 2014 Matthew rated it really liked it
Whoof. This is a sociology text for jargon-slinging academics and professional community builders. Ironically, in a book where the asking or giving of advice is cautioned against, and speaking from a place of professionalism down to the consumerist audience is sneered at, we have a book that does exactly that. No practical ideas are offered (aside from a few bizarre tips on what sort of chair to use in community meetings), and there is only context that the author works from: a group of concerne ...more
Dec 20, 2009 Susan rated it liked it
I read this nonfiction book as part of Pikes Peak Library District's All Pikes Peak Reads program, and thought it would be interesting to me as a former leader of a small nonprofit community organization.

The book did have some good ideas about a different approach to creating better communities. Leaders need to change their roles, we need to stop looking at our communities as just problems to be solved, responsibility, accountability, and commitment have new nuances, and this book proposes a ge
Nov 02, 2009 Vicki rated it liked it
I had to read this book for class, and thus had something to which I needed to connect its contents: libraries. I think you do need an anchor for yourself while reading this book. A lot of the language is sort of out there. Somebody called it academic. I sort of feel like it's sort of new ageish, or progressive psychologistish. You know what I mean.

But there are some good things in here. You have to be patient, and stick with it, but there are lots of good ideas about getting unstuck. Or reason
Alex Lee
Dec 12, 2015 Alex Lee rated it really liked it
Because of the nature of how we organize (using money as a material group think, along with the economic apparatuses) community is destroy. Each individual is expected to be oriented to a hierarchical source as in all eyes on stage. So the lateral conversations that determine a sense of belonging, a sense of diversity coming together are no longer fostered by our incentive-agency. Peter Block presents this book not as a critique of the technical apparatuses that govern peoples living and politic ...more
Apr 03, 2015 James rated it it was ok
We should focus on possibility rather than problems. Yeah, message received. I was so thoroughly saturated with it by page 100 that I had to force myself to keep reading through to the end. For all the author's insistence that we focus on possibility, he clearly sees how we live as an enormous problem that few have any insight into, except him, of course. I definitely agree that leaders' work is to engage people to become involved in creating change and stay out of the way as much as possible. A ...more
Jul 17, 2014 Drick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: community-work
This is an excellent theoretical overview of how a neighborhood group or an organization can build true community among the people in their group. His theory revolves around 6 conversations that need to happen and he is careful to stress the importance of language. There are so many gems I have taken from this book for leadership, community organizing, leadership training and teaching.

If there is one criticism I have is that he writes somewhat as a professional consultant, and my experience wit
Charles Cohen
Jul 09, 2014 Charles Cohen rated it it was amazing
This is my new Bible - just like the original, it's a little hard to accomplish it all, it's a little corny, and it's written by a vengeful, jealous deity who demands total submission. Well, not that last part. But the rest is spot on.

Focusing the community's attention on possibility, on abundance, and on everyone's respective gifts creates a culture of meaning, and of interrelatedness that is essential for growth and health. This is an essential read for anyone involved in building or strengthe
Dec 14, 2015 Nada rated it really liked it
How can a community promote a sense of belonging in its citizens? Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block lays out an ideology for transforming communities and engaging citizens through conversation. The book is challenging to read and is more focused on philosophy than implementation. However, the ideas are worth reading and worth considering as communities continue to struggle with promoting a sense of belonging in all their citizens.

Read my complete review at: http://www.memories
May 17, 2015 Frank rated it liked it
For author Peter Block, Community is about the experience of belonging. His goal in writing is to give tools to anyone who wants to transform communities and systems in order to foster a sense of ownership and accountability. He is clear that this is about through a different mindset and is guided by provocative questions.

For example, ask why an organization is not naturally moving in a more desirable direction and then take modest steps that shape the relationships which are affecting the syst
May 14, 2014 Tom rated it really liked it
I find this to be a really difficult book to review. There's no question that I found this book to be powerful, provocative and inspiring. The author has an unshakeable faith in the power of communities of ordinary people to affect change. I read the book with a highlighter in hand, so I could underline passages like,

A community gathering doesn't spend time talking about people who are not in the room.


When people speak in a large group they need to be acknowledged for the courage it took to
Nov 16, 2008 Catherine rated it really liked it
This book is like a gateway into thinking about community organizing. The strongest takeaway for me was the idea that the role of a leader is to act as a convener. This is instead of the iron-fisted "strong" leader who makes "hard" decisions. I've since noticed around me all sort of apathy that results from "strong" leaders. But leaders unwilling to genuinely include and listen to the community and guide them to creating their own action plans are not good either. To convene you must be near fla ...more
Paul Goble
Nov 18, 2010 Paul Goble rated it did not like it
This book strikes me as covertly religious: addressing religious topics such as human suffering, transformation, personal fulfillment, and relational imperatives, all from a perspective which is superficially compatible with but fundamentally contrary to my own Christianity.

The book is based on the philosophical underpinnings of Werner Erhard, the founder of Est, the Forum, and Landmark Education. In the book, Block promotes the idea that human action can fulfill longings and eliminate sufferin
Apr 17, 2013 Lyndon rated it liked it
Block does a decent job of opening a way for communities of all stripes to discover a different path than that proposed through the 'common wisdom' of market economics and the logic of modern management that privileges efficiency, effectiveness, and predictability as the hallmarks of a properly organized community. His use of the principles and practices of restorative justice is key in setting this work as a constructive project that aims to introduce would be community organizers and establish ...more
Sep 24, 2012 Howard rated it did not like it
I think that there is a lot of genuine, practical wisdom delivered by the author, but for reasons that I'm struggling with, it did not translate well into audiobook format. Or, that is what I'm telling myself.

One of several annoyances that I encountered - having to do with style rather than actual content was that as the author referenced back-up and support for a given position, he felt compelled to name those sources in the body of the content, rather than perhaps referencing the work separate
Oct 15, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: phd-list
This book was very recently recommended by a colleague and perfectly timed for work I'm doing related to my dissertation project which, if described in the broadest terms, is about community-driven social norms change. Of late, I have been exploring notions of citizenship and mechanisms for collective agency, and Peter Block's writings are a thoughtful addition to this conversation. Most compelling is his definition of what a citizen is, he states: "...a citizen is one who is willing to be accou ...more
Jun 25, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people soaked up already too much landmark
Recommended to Elizabeth by: client
c2008 from the library ......finish this someday
mostly landmark speak
possibly useful with Landmark influenced people to broaden their horizen

Introduction: The Fragmented Community and Its Transformation Part One: The Fabric of Community
Insights into transformation
Shifting the Context for Community
The Stuck Community
The Restorative Community
Takign Back Our Projections
What It Means to a Citizen
The Transforming Community

Part Two: The Alchemy of Belonging
Leadership Is Convening
Alissa Nelson
Four stars for content, three stars for style. This was not the easiest to start, but once I got through the first chapter or two I thought this was a pretty great and actionable primer on how to build restorative community around change. Lots of discussion on how to elevate marginalized voices, working from a place of strength rather than needs, and also really practical tips on how to set up a meeting space to facilitate conversation. I'm really looking forward to using some of this in my work ...more
Sep 05, 2012 Tonya rated it it was amazing
Well, I spend a great deal of my work Facilitating groups of people through various types of journeys. Mostly business - Strategic Planning, Organizational Design and Development. This book was a refreshing look at the human side of facilitating significant community change. Coming from Peter Block, whom I regard as an expert in consulting and working with organizations, this was inspiring. I found much in this book I will use in my work and continue to explore creating communities of belonging. ...more
Silas White
Nov 01, 2012 Silas White rated it liked it
A lot of useful messages in this book, but I found the language Block purposefully uses to be too subdued and neutral. Ironically, he advocates that language itself is integral to change but I find his own interpretation of this to render language lifeless. He does manage to successfully stay away from business lingo, hyperbole, humour, academic language, storytelling (the only examples he provides are really dry) and the result is, unsurprisingly, flat. The best parts are when he (accidentally? ...more
Michael Pierce
Jan 24, 2014 Michael Pierce rated it really liked it
"Restorative community is created when we allow ourselves to use the language of healing and relatedness and belonging without embarrassment." First off, I believe everything that Peter Block says, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that though it took a long time for me to read this, finally over the last few days I just jumped in and devoured it. Lots of ideas for inviting diverse folks to the table to change lives. Block has the courage to shoot down current trendy thoughts on leadership and ...more
Marianne Broadgate
Mar 28, 2014 Marianne Broadgate rated it it was amazing
This was a tough read in places but well worth it. Peter Block presents some powerful ideas which I think are key to our society in the future, to reverse the damaging trends that are currently dividing our society and reducing our communities. I am going to recommend this book to everyone in our Transition network.
Mar 23, 2016 Vera rated it did not like it
Horribly trite, boring, vague, generalizing and simplistic. Completely discounts or ignores relationships of power and privilege, systemic oppression, microaggressions etc. Problematic, conversations re: police and gentrification (no critical analysis, pro gov, pro capitalism). Terrible read; don't.
Donnell Bailey
Jul 10, 2014 Donnell Bailey rated it it was amazing
As I get ready for another year of being involved in Student Government, through Block's emphasis on structure and how structure is as important as to what is happening in the room, this book has been very insightful and indeed helpful. Block is so brilliant because he demonstrates a common sense that acknowledges the gifts of people rather than the deficiencies that people have. To another point that Block makes, it is so important and critical to get people to realize that they possess a certa ...more
May 30, 2015 Tracy108 rated it really liked it
This is and outstanding read with important points of view on belonging and community. It is also poetic and chock full of wisdom about how we are with each other and how we can be better together. It is both idealistic and pragmatic. A perfect blend.
Jun 25, 2015 Kirsten rated it it was ok
Shelves: higher-education
Meh. There were some great ideas and concepts in here, but the organization was weak and I didn't always follow his train of thought. I think the content could be useful if presented in an different format, maybe as a video or a workshop.
Apr 04, 2014 Penny rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up
Did not finish. I was expecting popular press sociology, but this felt more like New Age, and so vague it didn't seem to say anything. Maybe it would get better if I made it past chapter 5, but life is short.
Nov 06, 2014 Robyn rated it it was amazing
Landmark Education distinctions applied to building a community of belonging and compassion. Excellent! I will read it more than once - and I plan to practice the ideas and put them to use.
Paul Signorelli
Apr 21, 2011 Paul Signorelli rated it it was amazing
Peter Block shows, in his work and his presentations, that it doesn’t take much effort to initiate the process of building and strengthening communities—just a few people willing to gather and cross barriers they don’t normally cross so that ideas flow freely and exchanges strengthen relationships. It's all about engagement—that moment when people are drawn together by a common interest or goal and, in the process, begin to build the sort of communities which result in long-lasting and productiv ...more
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Share This Book

“Invitation is not only a step in bringing people together, it is also a fundamental way of being in a community. It manifests the willingness to live in a collaborative way. This means that a future can be created without having to force or sell it or barter for it. When we believe that barter or subtle coercion is necessary, we are operating out of a context of scarcity and self-interest, the core currencies of the economist.” 3 likes
“The interest we have in problems is so intense that at some point we take our identity from those problems. Without them, it seems like we would not know who we are as a community. Many of the strongest advocates for change would lose their sense of identity if the change they desired ever occurred.” 2 likes
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