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Community: The Structure of Belonging

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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 and detachment makes it hard if not impossible to envision a common future and work towards it together. We know what healthy communities look like--there are many success stories out there, and they've been described in detail. What Block provides in this inspiring new book is an exploration of the exact way community can emerge from fragmentation: How is community built? How does the transformation occur? What fundamental shifts are involved? He explores a way of thinking about our places that creates an opening for authentic communities to exist and details what each of us can do to make that happen.

240 pages, Hardcover

Published May 1, 2008

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Peter Block

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 160 reviews
Profile Image for Kristine Morris.
561 reviews15 followers
August 7, 2012
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 much of his life, outside of the community and only in the last 10 years has cautiously and even reluctantly moved toward fuller membership and belonging in Cincinnati where he resides. This book is unlike a lot of leadership or self-help books you’ll read, as it pulls together what Block himself has researched in his quest. This is obvious in the literature review he provides that draws from many disciplines including architecture, social work, large group methodologies like Word Café, appreciative inquiry, learning and education, urban planners, and spiritual advisors among many others. I noticed many references to Zen and Buddhist values and a lot of what he writes on “being the conversation” echoes what Susan Scott writes in her book Fierce Conversations.

At the beginning of the book, Blocks describes many of the issues we face in our modern day predicament. “We have studied and reported for years on the problems of housing, health care, the environment, youth at risk, the disabled, poverty… We believe that defining, analyzing and studying problems are the way to make a better world.” He says that these urban problems are the symptoms of a breakdown in community. We have become isolated and disconnected. Studies have shown that a community’s well-being is not about its economic and political resources but instead it is the quality of the “social fabric” or the cohesion that exists among its citizens. This is an attractive concept. Why haven’t we been able to solve the issues facing our communities?

Block argues that by restoring community you can create transformational change. His advice on how to build community includes: letting go of fear marketing and a reliance on the experts—the solutions come from the citizens (which engages them and generates real solutions); talking about gifts and possibilities instead of problems; bringing those in the margins into the fold (people whose abilities are not generally recognized); committing to a future distinct from the past—breaking away from trying to solve problems over and over again with no real change.

Many of the things that Block writes about truly resonated with me. This is the first time I’ve read an explanation of why we seem, as a society, to want to live in suburbia. In his book Makeshift Metropolis, Witold Rrybczynski, tells us that urban planners and architects generally take their cues from the public and build what people want and apparently that is suburbia. Block explains that the suburbs and gated communities appease the fear we’ve been marketed by media, institutions and our own continued dialogue. It’s the first time I’ve read why many activists are unsuccessful. Activists are kept in perpetual reaction to the stances of others. It’s easy to identify what we don’t want but harder to commit and be accountable for creating new possibilities and a future we do want. I wonder what he thinks of the Occupy Movement? Certainly their refusal to select leaders reinforces his position that the future must come from citizens and the larger community.

Some other points that hit home:
• “The dominant narrative of our cities is that they are unsafe and troubled”. And yet crime rates keep heading downward. Certainly he talks about the influence of media but he also challenges us to think about what “story” we keep in our heads about an issue—do we need to reframe our story? Imagine sitting with a group of friends and not complaining or shaking your head in wonderment because you have no idea what needs to be done. Any coach will advise you to silence the inner critic and reframe things.
• Reconstructing leader as a social architect. Not leader as a special person, but leader as a citizen willing to do those things that have the capacity to initiate something new in the world. This idea supports what we see developing in the social business industry.
• Accountability is the willingness to care for the well-being of the whole – to make a promise with no expectation in return. I’ve never truly understood the purpose of meditation exercises that have you escalate meditative thoughts on kindness and love for yourself, your friends, family, neighbours, your enemies and finally the world. Yet, if it enables you to take ownership of the life we live and helps you understand that you are the cause and the enabler of whatever you find in society (including what’s happening on the other side of the world), then it’s an effective way to reframe your responsibility (is it just to yourself or the larger community?). Certainly developing compassion is a precursor to belonging and community-building.
• Letting go of blame and the belief that problems reside in others and that they have to change. This places accountability of the future on others. In this mindset we wait for them to change before the change we want in the world can come to pass. Michael Jackson comes to mind, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways”.
• When he says, “we must engage in a new conversation” he includes in his definition of conversation, the architecture of our buildings and public spaces, the way we inhabit and arrange a room when we come together and the space we give to the arts. Nice to hear someone combine some of my interests in one sentence!

This is a book that you must let sink in before reading it a second or third time.

Note: Block makes some attempt (through the difficult medium of a book) to practice the piece he writes about the importance of design. Never in a book have a seen a postscript where the book designer explains why and how she designed the layout of the book.
Profile Image for Philippe.
634 reviews526 followers
December 4, 2014
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 promise of providing a genuinely different future for the organization.

The core question around which Block’s argument revolves is this: What is the means through which those of us who care about the whole community can create a future for ourselves that is not just an improvement, but one of a different nature from what we now have?

In answering that question the author departs in multiple ways from standard ‚consultancy’ practice:

- Change is not in the first place a matter of blueprints but of building social fabric. The essential work is bringing to life a context for developing quality social relationships.

- A shift of focus is needed from problems to possibilities: „communities are built from the assets and gifts of their citizens, not from citizens’ needs and deficiencies.” A view of communities or organizations as sets of problems to be solved is profoundly disempowering.

- Openness to future possibilities is rooted in people’s coming to terms with their story of the past. Typically in change processes we are focused on the now, on what goes wrong in the present. We shirk from uprooting the past and the trauma associated with it. Obviously personal versions of the past may stand in our way when envisioning another future. There has to be a space in which these stories can be shared and reevaluated.

- There is a move from action plans littered with dos and don’ts to the slow, imperceptible and everyday process that community transformation really is: „The task of transformation is to operate so that what we create grows organically, more concerned with the ‚quality of aliveness’ that gives us the experience of wholeness than with a predictable destination and the speed with which we can reach it.”

- Language is not just an inert vehicle to push-button change. It is the very lifeblood of change. Sustainable improvements in community occur when citizens discover their own power to act. And that discovery is inescapably embedded in a shift in speaking and listening: „All transformation is linguistic”. Specifically, we need to become better at asking generative questions: „Questions are more transforming than answers”.

The big idea that underlies Block’s theory of change is that lasting positive change in social collectives is irrevocably bound up with a search for freedom: „… freedom being the choice to be a creator of our own experience and accept the unbearable responsibility that goes with that. Out of this insight grows the idea that perhaps the real task of leadership is to confront people with their freedom. This may be the ultimate act of love that is called from those who hold power over others. Choosing our freedom is also the source of our willingness to choose to be accountable. The insight is that freedom is what creates accountability.” It is this idea of ‚chosen accountability’ (that Block borrows from Peter Koestenbdaum who in turn borrowed it from existential philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Camus) that continues to resonate with me and which I haven’t ceased to contemplate since I read this book.

Practically Block’s approach derives a lot from appreciative-oriented large group methodologies: „if we can get people together in the room, in the right context and with a few simple ground rules, the wisdom to create a future or solve a problem is almost always in the room.” Groups do not have to be large though. Small groups (with 3 to 12 participants) are the engine of transformation. Every gathering of that group, in its composition and process, has to be an example of the future the community wants to create. If this is achieved then that future is occurring at that very moment and there is nothing to wait for. It is this experience that gives people confidence that they can create a new future.

Block suggests the outline of a playbook for organizing these kinds of gatherings. He discusses how an invitation to join will be instrumental in setting the scene. Then he proposes a typology of conversations for structuring belonging: conversations of possibility, ownership, dissent, commitment and gifts. For each a set of generative questions is provided as a starting point. Block stresses the importance of the physical space in which the gathering takes place and shares practical recommendations for creating welcoming spaces. That chimes with my own experience of how mundane things such as spaciousness, eye contact and light have a significant impact on the quality of a conversation.

Peter Block’s Community certainly made me sit up and reconsider my own practice. As someone who has been steeped in the (soft) systems approach to complex social problems I found his critique on the systems approach unsettling and inspiring. I have been aware of appreciative methods for a long time but considered them rather anecdotal. Block made me understand that they are but in a good way. What I saw as a deficiency is in fact a strength. I still think the diagnostic perspective can be an important contribution to enabling positive social change but everything depends, as the author confirms, on the delicacy with which this knowledge is shared. Ultimately I see Block’s appreciative approach as complementary to my soft systems-inspired practice. They play on two different ways of understanding complexity: through a lens of observable patterns and through lived experience of concrete situations. Bringing these two together in a productive synthesis is something worth aiming for.
Profile Image for Vicki.
702 reviews16 followers
November 2, 2009
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 reasons why we should all let go and become unstuck at least.
35 reviews
December 3, 2010
Read this for a pastoral leadership conference in which Peter Block was a facilitator. Block references a number of sociologists/theory and melds it into a helpful guide. This book is part manual part string of inspirational stories. It's full of great questions and is a quick read. The thesis is a helpful interpretation bridging the academy with the world...great nuggets for promoting meaningful civic engagement.
Profile Image for Paul Goble.
193 reviews4 followers
November 19, 2010
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 suffering completely. He believes we can fundamentally transform ourselves and our communities through the use of language. He hints at the essential goodness and omnipotence of humanity.

Key words include: narrative, conversation, possibility, and transformation. Careful readers might note that each of those words are given (or assumed to have) very rich meanings, far beyond their use in everyday language. Key ideas not present include: debate, enforcement, and falsehood.

The book is written in an academic style (artificially so at times), but is very accessible due to summaries, an outline, and a good index.

This book was one of 5 All Pikes Peak Reads picks for 2009 (www.ppld.org).
Profile Image for Sam Young.
88 reviews20 followers
January 5, 2021
A doozy!

this is a book that i’ve been reading for class, but have really enjoyed it. community is about just that—the place that we live and how we interact with it. the author redefines how we engage with one another as citizens rather than consumers. block gives strategies on how to transform the mindset of the community throughout the book which leads to local change.

it took me awhile to really get into this book because 1. it’s non-fiction/self-helpy and i have a VERY hard time reading books like that and 2. the first half of the book is all about theory and abstract ideas. when reading books like this, i really need something concrete to ground me or else i feel lost. but i think that’s one of the points he’s trying to make; we need to think in the abstract and imagine a new kind of community to build a better one. the second half was helpful in taking the theory of the first to give strategies and examples of how we can change our conversations to be community-minded. i took a lot of time underlining and trying to remember these things for future work discussions.

this is definitely a book that i will be taking off the shelf often to figure out how to create a sense of belonging in what feels like a deficient world. would recommend!!
Profile Image for Kristy.
110 reviews
February 1, 2018
Interesting ideas... some of this is great, but the book comes from a very specific point of view that can sometimes feel alienating. I think the advice is sound, though. Definitely worth reading.
Profile Image for Abu Shaikh.
18 reviews
September 30, 2020
Written with so much ease and with such quality! It comes across to me as a condensation of experience. To be read with pauses, to be thought through with action.
16 reviews2 followers
April 3, 2018
It is no secret that the catalyst of community is one’s sense of belonging. Whether it is a spiritual form of community or simply a gathering of friends with a common interest, community is accurately defined as a group of people that belong to one another. Peter Block has structured this text as a way for us to engage our understanding of how we gather as people in a neighborhood or town. While similar texts within this same discipline spend most of their texts pointing out the problems and issues that our communities face, Block introduces the ideas that need re-calibrated and proceeds with solutions and conversations that are helpful for leaders and laity. The most notable section of the text focuses on the idea that each person must see themselves as a citizen of their community and that we must work together for a common interest and not focus on the problems. This requires a change in perception of our surroundings and calls us to engage our neighbors’ gifts as a valued asset. And when we start with one another’s gifts and strengths we will build a community that is built on restoration rather than a problem-solving crisis mode.

One might then ask “how we fix the problems in our midst if we do not confront them?” Block argues that we do confront our problems but we do not approach them as problems. If we look for greater outcomes as the goal then we look for assets and skills to match those outcomes. An example of this would be if a town has many teens loitering on weekend evenings and the town council was approached about fixing the “problem”. In Block’s argument, the council should suggest that the dilemma at hand is the fact that there is no communal space for the teens to gather and find places that would be able to host teen events on the weekend. It would be easy for the town to highly restrict the teens’ activity and build up barriers to distance them from the “problem” but the council should find ways of engagement instead of exclusion.

While this text is not explicitly about faith, Block certainly introduces a lot of redefining statements that the Church needs to pay attention to. Somewhere in the past century, the mainline church has lost its ability to create spaces of belonging. Instead, we have built organizations of homogeneous demographics and have been entrenched in particular viewpoints with little conversation about others’ experiences. I see this in my own community where people constantly deconstruct the community by all the “bad” things and never looking for ways to unify or build upon what we have. While it seems like our judgments of other people lead us away from each other, I am inclined to say that we simply are afraid of difference. A different opinion might mean that we are wrong and have to change and maybe a different story reveals an injustice that we were blind to in the past.

For my context, Block’s text will be helpful in the ways in which we perceive our neighbors. To be honest, our town does not just have a “loitering teen problem” but we have been affected by the opioid epidemic and signs of a depressed middle class show itself to anyone that encounters our community. Through Block’s example, we need to find solutions of wholeness for the greater good. We need to support recovery ministries and programs, host job fairs, work with local development companies to bring industry to the area, etc. Focusing on the solutions and not the problems will change our mindset from seeing the “troublemakers” to seeing the helpers and leaders.

In the area of ministry, I find that engagement is the key to building “structures of belonging”. Judgment, stigmatizing, discrimination, etc. has no value in building community. But it is difficult to overcome these natural biases that have developed along with our sense of community. The Church’s role in this would be to allow for a space that gives voice to people that may not otherwise have the ability to do so. In chapter 14, Block outlines what a physical space would look like for hosting these conversations. I absolutely disagree with the idea of “designed” conversation space in the sense that it is presented here. For starters, conversations about community must be organic and authentic. A synthetic approach only creates a space for people to continue to dream and rarely execute their ideas. I feel that community conversations must happen on a personal level and in a community space. For instance, if I wanted to see the local churches do a better job at providing more worship experiences for the community I would not create a synthetic environment that pressures people into doing something they typically would not or make them defensive of their already established approach. For example, this conversation could best take place at our children’s dance recital social hour. No one is pressured or becomes defensive and it could lead to further conversations over a meal in our home. I feel that Block’s approach diminishes the power of a peer to peer relationship. Community should start with authentic relationships that encourage belonging and then as these relationships grow and flourish, groups of belonging can integrate with one another to build a system of inclusion.

As for practices that can be derived from this text, I would suggest that conversations need to happen more often than not. In our world of sound bites and social media we have lost the ability to speak to each other with rational regard. I find that one of the most productive and sacred conversations that I have in a month is when I meet with my various ministeriums. I belong to four ministeriums, two are ecumenical community groups and the other are regional-denomination-based gatherings. When we share a beverage or a meal we share concerns and joys and offer solidarity in our common work. Even though we may have differences, we find meaning and belonging when we gather for a conversation. This practice can be done at various levels in community and we should discern what places of listening and sharing are open in our communities and, if we identify gaps in this practice, open a space for this conversation.
Profile Image for Mitch Olson.
215 reviews4 followers
July 12, 2021
A pretty good framework for building a “structure of belonging”. I particularly appreciated his “6 conversations that matter” (Ref https://www.abundantcommunity.com/six...).

If there is one criticism I would make of this book is that It doesn’t touch much upon my own specific interest in community which is communities of practice and digitally mediated communities.
Profile Image for Jill.
801 reviews31 followers
August 28, 2023
Finally got round to reading Peter Block's Community after a number of people I know working in the fields of community building and organisational development recommended it. In Community, Block tries to answer the question of how we might build connection and community from a state of fragmentation, where our "business, schools, social service organizations, churches, and government operate mostly in their own worlds. Each piece is working hard on its own purpose, but parallel effort added together does not make a community. Our communities are separated into silos; they are a collection of institutions and programs operating near one another but not overlapping or touching". Electronic connections and other technologies may provide benefits such as diverse information, convenience and contact, but these "do not create the connection from which we can become grounded and experience the sense of safety that arises from a place where we are emotionally, spiritually and psychologically a member". (Just think of how ordering your groceries online saves you a trip to the store but reduces your contact with the butcher, cashier etc.).

I can see why so many people recommended the book to me; Block provides useful conceptual frames and techniques to build connection and community amongst individuals. But what made this more of a three and a half star rather than a four star read for me is that his slightly crunchy style, his way of using words, didn't resonate with me. (In the same way that I sometimes roll my eyes with the turns of phrase that Brene Brown uses). Phrases like "each step has to embody a quality of aliveness" (to be fair, Block was citing the work of Christopher Alexander here but the fact that he reproduced the phrase is noteworthy) made my high T brain wince slightly.

But there were many points that did resonate, or at least, provoke a rethinking of existing mental models on community building approaches?

First, that systems are not the right starting point to build community. Citing John McKnight's work, Block argues that "[organised, professionalised] systems are capable of service but not care'. He notes that in the "professional world of service providers, whole industries have been built on people's deficiencies. Social services and most of medicine, therapy, and psychology are organised around what is missing or broken in people." However, this view of people, as problems to be solved, diminishes their capacity; McKnight's work on Asset Based Community Development argues that in order to build community, we need to focus on people's assets and gifts, not their deficiencies.

Block notes that "the conventional approach to community building and development is to create programs, blueprints and funding to keep us safe, keep us working, keep us housed and healthy. Every city has thousands of institutions, programs, and agencies all committed to serving the public good." Yet, that fact that we still see fragmentation suggests that this approach isn't working.

Instead, it is what McKnight terms "associational life", where groups of people voluntarily choose to build connections for their own sake, that can build community and deliver care. And associational life stems from citizens themselves choosing to build connections for their own sake, sometimes for coffee, but sometimes for a common purpose. Whether in clubs, associations, informal gatherings, special events, or just on the street or at breakfast, neighborly contact constitutes "an uncounted and unnoticed glue and connection that makes good communities work". It is in associational life that "creating connectedness becomes both an end and a means", whereas for systems, building connection would be a means and not an end in itself. (Block notes that ironically, associations are under constant pressure to be more corporate: to merge, become more efficient, submit to greater accountability, etc.) Not that there isn't a role for systems like business, government and social services - Block notes that we do need systems to deliver certain outcomes. But they are "not essential to community transformation."

Referencing David Bornstein's work, Block argues that sustainable change in the community starts not via a government or large system sponsored programme, but from small scale, ground up efforts that slowly grow until they achieve a level of scale that touches large numbers of people. Top down efforts invariably start with clear outcomes, pre-determined steps to achieve those outcomes, and an emphasis on producing "quick wins". But these do not produce lasting results.

Instead, it is "the small group [that] is the unit of transformation." Block suggests that we can only create "social fabric [and social capital]… one room at a time." That community building "occurs in an infinite number of small steps, sometimes in quiet moments that we notice out of the corner of our eye. It calls for us to treat as important many things that we thought we incidental…The key to creating or transforming community, then, is to see the power in the small but important elements of being with others. The shift we seek needs to be embodied in each invitation we make, each relationship we encounter, and each meeting we attend."

Block argues that the challenges for community building is that while "visions, plans, and committed top leadership are important, even essential, no clear vision, nor detailed plan nor committed group leaders have the power to bring this image of the future into existence without the continued engagement and involvement of citizens. In most instances, citizen engagement ends when the plan is in place. The implementation is put in the hands of the professionals".

Building community therefore requires changing our context (i.e. our mental models) and structure of how we engage with each other. Shifting from a mindset of identifying problems to one of exploring possibilities, from a mindset that focusses on deficiencies to one that focusses on gifts and potential, shifting from a stuck, retributive community to a restorative one, from law and oversight to social capital and "chosen accountability", from the dominance of systems to the centrality of associational life.

In practical terms, this means not treating citizens like "cases" or passive followers but letting them drive the agenda. Block argues:

"The political agenda of the stuck community says that citizens and employees are incapable of monitoring themselves and controlling each other, and that more careful oversight, institutionally mandated and installed, will build community and provide for the common good. It is in fact an argument against building community. It ends up leaving us more dependent on security specialists and professionalized control.

…We speak endlessly, both in the public conversation and privately, about the rise and fall of leaders. The agenda this sustains is that leaders are cause and all others are effect. That all that counts is what leaders do. That leaders are the leverage point for building a better community. That they are foreground, while citizens, followers, players, and anyone else not in a leadership position are background. This is a deeply patriarchal agenda, and it is this love of leaders that limits our capacity to create an alternative future. It proposes that the only real accountability in the world is at the top. They are the only ones worth talking about. The effect of buying into this view of leadership is that it lets citizens off the hook and breeds citizen dependency and entitlement…If we keep engaging citizens in this traditional way, then no amount of involvement will make a difference. The way we currently gather has no transformational power."

The role of leaders, Block argues, is not, as we have traditionally conceived, to shape and drive the agenda. When it comes to the material world, Block acknowledges that our traditional notions of leadership and hierarchies work quite well. Civil servants are generally well trained at providing public services and delivering on public infrastructure like roads, economic development, master planning. But when it comes to human systems - like building the social fabric of the community, our traditional hierarchies and notions of leadership fare less well. Governments organise townhalls and meetings but these platforms fail to encourage citizens to connect with each other or "be engaged as productions of the future. Citizens [instead] show up as critics and consumers". Instead, leaders need to see their role as creating the conditions for civic or institutional engagement - to convene and design gatherings. Where these gatherings are not about "explanation, persuasion, and problem solving, rather than engagement", but on "creating the experience of belonging" and on "communal possibility". Block asks "how many conferences, summits, and events have we attended where the small group discussion is relegated to the breaks and thereby left to chance?"

Block notes that the conventional definition of citizenship, which focusses on the act of voting and the promise to uphold the laws of a country, is "narrow and limiting". When we think of citizens as just voters, "we reduce them to being consumers of elected officials and leaders". There is no power in this conception of a citizen. What if, Block asks, we were to invert this notion of the citizen and see citizens as the ones who create their leaders? Block gives an interesting example here:

"At the core, police get into a problem when they think they are responsible for public safety - and when this belief is matched by citizens. The police are not responsible for my safety. Citizens who believe that the police are responsible for safety are avoiding their own accountability. Citizens are responsible for public safety; citizens commit crimes, prevent crimes, and create the conditions where crime is high or low. As long as police take responsibility for safety, they are going to stay in a defensive stance, which moves nothing forward. Police are responsible for enforcing the law, apprehending criminals, and mediating or stopping violence. Police are not suppliers of safety to a passive citizenry….[One police chief observed that] for 80 percent of the calls [the police] received, people do not need a uniformed officer; they need a neighbour".

Block further argues that "all transformation is linguistic", which means that community building entails engaging in "a new conversation, one that we have not had before". (However, Block subsequently clarifies that his definition of conversation encompasses not only how we listen and speak but also how we communicate meaning to each other. It therefore includes "the architecture of our buildings and public spaces, the way we inhabit and arrange a room when we come together, and the space we give to the arts'). Instead of a retributive conversation, which breeds entitlement and centres around "what's in it for me"?, might we transform our conversation to one which focusses on creating relatedness and accountability?

Block identifies the kinds of conversation we need, where:
- We experience an intimate and authentic relatedness
- The world is shifted through invitation rather than mandate
- The focus is on the communal possibility
- There is a shift in ownership of this place, even though others are in charge
- Diversity of thinking and dissent are given space
- Commitments are made without barter
- The gifts of each person and our community are acknowledged and valued.

Specifically, Block identifies six different categories of conversation that can contribute to transformation (unlike conventional "just talk" conversations): Invitation, Possibility, Ownership, Dissent, Commitment and Gifts. We create the conditions for such conversation by asking powerful questions.

Block makes a distinction between questions with little power - familiar questions like "how do we get people to be more committed?", "how to we bring people on board?", "how do we get people to change?" - and those that have the power to create accountability and commitment by opening up a different kind of conversation. Like:
- What is the choice you made by being here (Invitation)
- How much risk do you plan to take and how participative do you plan to be in this gathering or project (Ownership)
- What are the crossroads you/we are at that are appropriate to the possibilities of the gathering (Possibilities)
- To what extent do you see yourself as cause of the problem you are trying to fix (Ownership)
- What are your doubts and reservations (Dissent)
- What promises are you willing to make to your peers. What promises are you unwilling to make. (Commitment)
- Why was it important for you to show up today?
- What is it about you or your team, group, neighbourhood that nobody knows (Gifts)

Block rounds off with some points on designing a gathering for connection. He clarifies that starting off a gathering with an ice breaker creates contact but not connection. He suggests max mix groupings to "give people the freedom to be who they truly are" and not who those familiar with them think they should be. Meanwhile, affinity groupings are helpful for planning actions and making promises. Create opportunities for connecting over food. Design the space thoughtfully to emphasise human connection - bringing people close to each other in circles, having movable chairs, finding spaces with windows, having roving mikes so that everyone who wants to speak can be heard (instead of making people line up behind a mike).
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alex Witkowski.
21 reviews2 followers
April 1, 2018
I was really excited to read this book because I'm passionate about community building. Firstly, one potentially helpful note: I'm a community manager at an educational technology company, and I was hoping this book could provide some theoretical foundation to help me in this role. This is not the fault of the book, and it in no way is playing into my review, but this book is much more about more traditional communities (neighborhoods, namely). Again, not a fault of the book, but if that's what you're looking for here, this probably isn't the best use of your time.

To Block's credit, there are a number of things this book does well. Firstly, he clearly knows his stuff. He provides a wealth of related readings and experts in the field throughout the book that I will definitely look into down the road. Secondly, I appreciate the majority of the points he makes from a philosophical standpoint. I think, in particular, he offers some insightful interpretations of some common practices that actually prohibit successful community building. There are a handful of valuable takeaways, some of them small and actionable, others more like ideological guiding lights. Finally, its length makes it relatively digestible. He provides little overviews before each chapter, and offers the "book at a glance" at the end. The chapters are generally brief, so it's pretty easy to pick up in small time windows.

All of that said, there are a number of things that prevented me from fully appreciating this:

1) The first half of the book is both exceedingly esoteric and exceedingly repetitive. The first 80 pages state the same few points over and over again. I understand that this is likely designed so that the ideas sink in, but it comes off as milking an essay's worth of content into half a book. The first half of the book also offers nothing actionable. It isn't even that it should offer tips, but sifting through pseudo-theory to figure out what he's saying doesn't really serve the purpose of welcoming the reader in.

2) I get the sense that Block is middle-right leaning politically. That's fine, of course, if that's your thing, but if you're more left-leaning (like I am) some of his points may be in opposition to the pillars of your political identity. There's a subtle religious bent throughout the book, and he periodically makes points that seem to underestimate the influence of systemic inequality. The crux of this book is that it's up to people to change their communities at a micro level, and that blaming elected officials or bureaucracy is just a way of passing responsibility. The problem with this is that I don't get the sense that this book is geared toward disenfranchised communities, so instead it serves as a convenient way to equip the reader to point the finger at people who express feelings of disenfranchisement. Pair that with a number of bizarre non-sequiturs (a glowing paragraph about law enforcement, a few mentions of teenagers being self-centered and arrogant, an allusion to black teens having entrepreneurial skills as drug dealers, a statement that developers in cities are no more evil than the residents, and a closing paragraph that seems to suggest we should not bother trying to reform healthcare), and the result is a book-length call to pull yourself up by your boot straps.

3) Block says early on that he does not intend to inundate the reader with examples because those are well publicized elsewhere. I'm not sure that's as true as he thinks it is. What would be helpful is to see these ideas in practice. He shares a few helpful examples, but most of them are either very micro (the application of a single piece of advice of his, like miking a room for a community meeting) or the result of the strategies he provides. It would be helpful to see what this looks like in practice, especially since he seems to believe that this should be an on-going strategy and not a one-off effort. At the very least, providing links to a supplemental resource that applied this framework to a concrete example would help contextualize what he's talking about. Every community is different, sure, but considering the point he makes over and over and over again at the beginning of the book that we need to publicize good news and stop covering tragedies around the world, he's surprisingly cagey about successful examples and spends a lot of time explaining why what we usually do is wrong.

I wouldn't say I *regret* reading this book, it was just a disappointing read. I was hoping to come away either with a more concrete framework or a feeling of energy and hope, but instead I was left with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I would recommend flipping through this in the library and looking at the "book at a glance" rather than diving into this.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Wallace.
29 reviews1 follower
November 15, 2020
I love the structure of this book with Block’s ability to see themes. I love the practical suggestions for applying what he sees.

This book will change your life if you let it!
Profile Image for Nafiseh Miraei.
46 reviews13 followers
August 31, 2017
برای این که بگویم چرا کتاب را دوست دارم باید گریزی بزنم به تجربه‌ام از زندگی در تهران. نگاه می‌کنم به خودم، به دوستانم، به خانواده‌هامان، به گفتگوهای این گوشه و آن گوشه‌ی شهر مردم و می‌بینم چقدر به سمت نفر حرکت می‌کنیم. دوستی برایم نوشته‌بود: «چیزی که از بین رفته برای من جوانی و شعف با هم ساختن‌های جمعی بود..هیچ دولت و اقتداری اگر بیشتر تحلیلش نبرد به ما بازش نخواهد‌داد. مثل همیشه حرف زدن با تو نتیجه فرح‌بخش است؛ بازپس گیری رؤیا، شادی، شعف، خیابان، دوستی و هرچیز دیگری با دست‌های ما.» باهم ساختن‌های جمعی... . اطراف من پر است از گروه‌های دو نفره. آشنایان پر تلاشی اطرافم هستند اما به هر دلیلی حالا شده‌اند فرد، دو نفری مؤسسه تأسیس می‌کنیم، دو نفری تفریح‌ می‌کنیم، دو نفری غر می‌زنیم، دو نفری.... . مؤسسه‌های با اهداف مشترک به زحمت با هم کار می‌کنند، دولت و دانشگاه و شرکت‌ها و نفرات و غیره و غیره همه از هم جداافتاده‌اند و ما شدیم تکه‌های منفصل. تکه‌های از هم دور افتاده. کم‌تر خودمان را متعلق به جایی حس می‌کنیم. کم‌تر خودمان را متعلق به جمعی حس می‌کنیم. و اگر جایی را می‌سازیم برای این که بمانیم دوام نمی‌آورد، دوام نمی‌آوریم یا به زحمت ادامه می‌دهیم و باز ختم می‌شویم به نفر. و این نفر شدن فرصت گفتگو را از ما گرفته طوری که کم‌کم برای هم غریبه می‌شویم. کم‌کم دنبال آدم‌های شبیه به خود می‌گردیم و گفتگو کردن با کسی که ادبیات‌ش با ما متفاوت است برای‌مان سخت می‌شود. خب ما در چه زمینه، با چه گفتمان، با چه دیدگاه و در چه ساختاری کار و زندگی و فکر می‌کنیم؟ آیا این شکل ما رو به سمت آینده‌ای متفاوت خواهد برد یا فقط گذشته را تکرار می‌کنیم؟
ما مدام مسئله‌ها رو می���بینیم، به ترس‌هامان دامن می‌زنیم، از گفتگو و از جمع به نفر پناه می‌بریم، دنبال اشتباهات و دنبال مقصر می‌گردیم و هی قانون و مجازات وضع می‌کنیم. این کتاب یک جامعه‌ی گیرافتاده و یک جامعه‌ی پویا را تصویر می‌کند و بعد برای گذار از اولی به دومی مشق می‌دهد. فارغ از این که چقدر در عمل از پس چنین تمرین‌هایی بر می‌آییم، فارغ از این که قسمت‌هایی از کتاب برایم مبهم است و تشنه‌ی شنیدن نظر دیگران هستم، کتاب می‌تواند بهانه‌ای باشد تا بر سر موضوع‌های هر فصل آن گفتگو کنیم و به وضع کنونی بیندیشیم
Profile Image for Caleb Leman.
43 reviews4 followers
July 15, 2020
This is the first book I have ever read that I truly think EVERYONE should read. It has completely transformed the way I view leadership, community, and activism—three concepts which Block almost implicitly makes one. If you're stuck in a rut, grappling with a muddled sense of calling, but are failing to see where living out your values meets the practical opportunities before you, I suggest reading this book. If you're leading social change and are feeling burnt out, read this book and be liberated. If you're feeling disgusted and disempowered with politics, read this book and rediscover your agency. If you're feeling alone, read this book and see the Beloved Community (MLK) which you can facilitate. Be transformed, and be renewed! No book will better prepare you for being an authentically transformative creative force in the world.
Profile Image for Susan (aka Just My Op).
1,126 reviews58 followers
December 20, 2009
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 generally different way of approaching community than has been the norm.

Unfortunately, I found the book to be fairly dry. I put it down for several weeks, and then picked it up again, but found myself skimming through parts of it quickly. Most interesting were some real-life examples of how people and organizations have put theory into practice. There is an entire section of specific role models and resources, and for those who don't want to read the whole book, a “book at a glance” section. I think this is a good book for organizations that need some new life, communities that need a new approach, but I believe it could have been better written.
2,146 reviews
July 20, 2017
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
Taking Back Our Projections
What It Means to a Citizen
The Transforming Community

Part Two: The Alchemy of Belonging
Leadership Is Convening
The Small Group Is the Unit of Transformation
Questions Are More Transforming Than Answers
Midterm Review
The Possibility, Ownership, Dissent, Commitment, and Gifts Conversations
Bringing Hospitality into the World
Designing Physical Space That Supports Community
The End of Unnecessary Suffering
Book at a Glance
Role Models and Resources

About the Author
About the Design
Profile Image for Izetta Autumn.
419 reviews
February 3, 2009
Overall, I found this book helpful, though at times it was a little too theory focused for me. I went into my reading, hoping to walk away with clear strategies - instead I have quotes and ideas, but also feel somewhat disappointed that at a certain point, its all too lofty to a.) really feel connected and b.) offered few real suggestions. The book was also in need of a good trimming - it didn't need to be as long as it was.

The appendix, as it happens, turned out to have some helpful resources. And for those who have less experience facilitating, I think it gives a great deal of helpful information.
Profile Image for Alissa.
192 reviews7 followers
February 5, 2015
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, and I think this should be required reading for people who want to work with marginalized communities.
935 reviews7 followers
June 18, 2020
One topic that has always captured my attention is the ever-present tension between the isolation of self-interest and the connectedness of a shared vision or common values. I see this tension throughout our world, both in local communities and across nations, and so I decided to look for a book on community. Peter Block’s 2008 publication Community: The Structure of Belonging addresses this tension by looking not only at what constitutes a community but how communities are formed and transformed. Much of his book revolves around the idea of “belonging,” as Block argues this is the critical ingredient necessary for individuals to move away from isolation and toward interconnectedness.

Block begins the book by making one key assertion that sets the groundwork for an effective argument: Our lives are fragmented by gaps between all of areas for social interaction. There are many places, organizations, or other social entities that serve as a social forum within themselves (schools, churches, governments, and businesses, for example), but as long as these entities do not become intimately intertwined, our social lives remain fragmented. As Block puts it, “each piece is working hard on its own purpose, but parallel effort added together does not make a community.” The irony, he adds, is that this fragmentation comes in the age where connection between individuals and information is practically instant. This may create a false sense of connectedness where individuals may technically have access to other groups or individuals across the globe yet have no real sense of belonging.

So, if our communities are generally fragmented into isolated sectors of self-interest and disconnect, what can be done? Block dedicates the majority of his book to answering this question, and his solutions were both surprising and intriguing. He does a great job of summarizing and incorporating insights of many other writers, thinkers, and advocates for community into his ideas. He sees the process as transformative, with the creation of a future that is distinct from the past. This transformation, he argues, must be centered on a creating a sense of belonging in individuals. This sense of belonging must appeal to people on the most basic emotional, mental, and spiritual level while instilling community members with a strong desire to benefit the group as a whole. In order to create this sense of belonging, Block suggests that we must boil the process down to smaller, primary steps. Ultimately, the question of creating a sense of belonging can be reduced to questions like “whom do I choose to invite into the room? What sort of conversation will we have? What vision will we create?” Block points out that this sort of communal transformation is much different from individual transformation as it happens much more gradually and organically.

I see Block’s approach as a grassroots way of looking at community building. In stark contrast to the way our governments usually try to address social problems from the top down, Block suggests we, as individuals, plug ourselves into our immediate surroundings to create a sense of belonging. As more people do this, the sense of belonging becomes increasingly interconnected and crystallizes. This is where a community begins.

While reading Block’s work I couldn’t help but constantly apply his insights to what’s going on here on the West Side in St. Paul. It is great to see the ways in which these ideas are already at work here, and it is a sound reminder of what needs to continue happening to strengthen the NLC. The benefits of utilizing organic, grassroots techniques in building communities are so vivid here, and Block’s work has been a wonderful encapsulation of this process. Anyone with an interest in community building methodology should check this book out!
Profile Image for Courtney Tobin.
11 reviews1 follower
March 7, 2020
This book provided a good overview of community as an easy read. It did a good job presenting complex psycho-social concepts, such as social capital and large group methodology, in ways that are easily accessible to most readers. I appreciated the discussion on different conversations to have when building community, and the discussion on inversion.

However, I wouldn't personally recommend it. I think other books do just a good job without some of this one's flaws.

It seems outdated and had a weird agenda against technology (from social media to Zoom). Even though this edition was published in 2018, it does not acknowledge the potential of online community. Instead, the author treats online interaction as a hurdle to creating community.

Additionally, the author spends a lot of time on "the breakdown of community" - which is important, but somewhat overstated here. He points to the Sandy Hook shooting and other mass shootings as an issue with community, and criticizes the idea of seeking solutions through legislation. He omits any discussion of corporate greed, income inequality, or other issues rising from unchecked capitalism (including fair-wage jobs and affordable housing) and attributes them to a breakdown in community - as if we would solve all the world's problems, if only the 1% would sit down and build community with everyone else. In an effort to make his point, the author goes to an unnecessary extreme.

All in all, I would skip the first half of the book and start with Part 2 (chapter 10). That's where the discussion of practical work of HOW to build community starts, and where the book feels most relevant and useful.
251 reviews
November 7, 2021
It was somewhat tough for me to get into the book - it took a few starts, before I jumped into it last month. I think the denseness of it and not quite having a particular "community" in mind when I started were some of the initial hurdles, but once I got past that I found the book to be quite eye opening. Very different than what I expected, especially since my only awareness of Peter Block before this book was Flawless Consulting, which I read back in grad school. It's quite cool to see how his thinking regarding relying on "experts" has changed and I his two key points in this book on Community really resonated with me, from page 61 - "The transformation we seek occurs when these two conditions are created: when we produce deeper relatedness across boundaries, and when we create new conversations that focus on the gifts and capabilities of others." I really started to see that he was talking about how we as individuals want to show up in the world and the concept of taking more ownership in how we connect and engaged with each other, basically our communities.

Although I started to read the book several times before, I guess now was the really the perfect time for me to understand the concepts. I've taken many notes and will try and incorporate not only the community mindset into my life, but also some of the questions and specific techniques highlighted into my role in facilitating gatherings.
Profile Image for Melanie.
631 reviews14 followers
September 2, 2018
Peter: ‘En? Wat vind je er van de concept-versie van Community?’
Uitgever: ‘Goed. Heel goed. Je geeft hele waardevolle adviezen, alleen..’
Peter: ‘Nou?’
Uitgever: ‘Tja, het is maar vijftig pagina’s. Hier kunnen we geen twintig euro voor vragen. Kun je het niet wat dikker maken?’
Peter: ‘Misschien zou ik de eerste paar hoofdstukken wat kunnen uitrekken?’
Uitgever: ‘Ja, als je nou telkens ongeveer hetzelfde vertelt en dan elke keer een klein beetje nieuwe informatie toevoegt per hoofdstuk’
Peter: ‘Ja, dat zou wel kunnen. Misschien kan ik ook nog per hoofdstuk een samenvatting van het hoofdstuk toevoegen. Dat is ook weer wat extra tekst.’
Uitgever: ‘Kunnen we ook nog wat met de bronnenlijst?’
Peter: ‘Als we elke bron apart beschrijven kan ik dat denk ik wel rekken tot 25 pagina’s.
Uitgever: ‘Dan komen we op 240 pagina’s uit.’
Peter: ‘Daar kunnen we wel 20 euro voor vragen, toch?’

Droog en langdradig. Qua stijl leek het op studieboeken van de universiteit en dan met een Amerikaanse ondertoon. Ik had moeite me te concentreren. Tussen de herhalende regels door stonden gelukkig wel goede tips verborgen. Ergens midden in het boek staan een stuk of vijf hoofdstukken die woord voor woord super-nuttig waren en die ik zo kan toepassen in de praktijk. Hoewel het soms doorzetten was, toch blij dat ik het heb gelezen dus :).
Profile Image for Jindřich Mynarz.
114 reviews13 followers
July 3, 2022
There's a lot of talk about "community-building" these days. You see it used by companies and non-governmental organizations alike, attempting to build pools of replaceable "resources" to serve as consumers or prospective employees. Many Meetup.com groups are like this. This book argues that communities are grown, not built. What we can build is the environment out of which a community can grow. We can design a hospitable space that welcomes active involvement and nourishes a community in its repeated interactions over time. The book suggests many ways how to go about this, for example:

Questions are the essential tools of engagement. They are the means by which we are all confronted with our freedom.

If the conversation is not set up clearly and intentionally, the old conversation will occur.

If I do not see my part in causing the past and the present, then there is no possible way I can participate usefully in being a coauthor of the future.

Most of it is highly practical, yet somewhat esoteric language appears too. It is a short book: you will likely spend more time thinking about it than reading it. It invites repeated reading and (difficult) thinking through its practical applications to communities in the world around you.
Profile Image for EL.
44 reviews17 followers
January 1, 2020
A big part of my appreciation for this book goes to the content that speaks to the work between interpersonal and group levels. This is terrain that most of my coaching clients find it mystifying if not challenging to navigate. What continually engaged me were the many connections the author presented; I found myself constantly affirming the group and system-levels content (with nods and “Mmm’s”) because they linked effortlessly and cogruently from the little I know about the intrapersonal and interpersonal levels work.

In most of my reviews I note how easy a book is to read, and this one ranks high on readability. And yet, it is packed with goodness. So many pithy lines.

I foresee myself returning to this book again and again, treating it as a textbook. One that is enjoyable and fascinating to read.
Profile Image for Fifi.
405 reviews17 followers
October 2, 2023
'How do we choose to be together?'
#DeZinVanHetBoek #TheEssenceOfTheBook

This is an important book, if only for the title and its purpose: to get readers to reconsider their position and role in society. We are constantly being tempted - by media, colleagues, peers, to improve ourselves, with the emphasis on said selves. But it is clear that such individualistic goals are in no way helpful to society, or the planet, or even to ourselves.
Peter Block explains why and how we had better focus on building communities.

Reasons why I appreciate this book:
- The method of large group gatherings with the purpose of building community. This brought to mind citizen engagement initiatives such as the citizen panels as organized by David van Reybrouck.
- Some of the inspirational sources Block refers to, such as Robert D. Putnam. Drawing on Putnams seminal work Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Block reinstates the importance of bridging and bonding, and of putting the community first.
- Block stresses the importance of accountability. To Block, and I cannot agree more, accountability is not something that only applies after the fact: acknowledging you did something wrong, offering apologies and explanations, and helping to repair damage done. More than that, it is about being mindful of one's responsibility to others ahead of acting, and to make sure that if your actions affect others, the outcome should be positive for them (not just on the short run). In other words: it is not about you first, it's about the community.
- Like David Bollier in Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons, Block offers positive, constructive and feasible examples of how we can move forward together. This is not just some idealistic, naive theorizing: building community is happening and successfully so. It does take effort, but it can be done.

However, I do also have a few qualms about the book. For one thing, while reading, a little voice constantly whispered in the back of my head: 'Landmark, be ware!' Block repeatedly pays tribute to Werner Erhard, building on Erhards method of large group gatherings and the use of transformative language. The reason I am wary of this is because I recall how, in the nineteen nineties, Erhards Landmark training sessions became very popular in The Netherlands. These sessions were aimed at self-improvement and agency - basically, at constructing many strong individuals rather than building community. The participation, or growth, scheme had a setup similar to that of Scientology: after completing one course, the participant was not yet done and was pushed to pursue advanced courses, having to paying large fees. At least, this is how I remember it from reading articles about it at the time, and from the experience of a friend who attended a few sessions after which she wisely stepped away from it. The psychological methods and substantiations were considered shaky at best and the institute was highly criticised, and even considered a cult in some countries.
To my knowledge, Landmark trainings are still offered worldwide, and I am at odds to see how the individualistic self improvement approach where participants follow the directions of a leader match with a community approach where a group works collaboratively towards a common purpose.

Also, I wondered why there is so little mention of authors who publish about the Commons and Commoning. Peter Block does touch upon the idea of the Commons, and he refers to Elinor Ostrom once or twice, but he hardly names other contemporary thinkers on this subject. For instance, I would have expected some references to David Bollier, one of the leading authors on commoning. To me, there is an obvious relationship between commoning on the one hand and citizen engagement and community building on the other.
Truth be told, I don't think Bollier mentions Block in his work either. Perhaps this is a case of rivals mutually ignoring one another?
Either way, it strikes me as odd that these fairly well known authors/thinkers/changemakers seem to move around in parallel worlds.

One last I struggle with is that the book didn't answer one of my most pressing questions: would this method work to mitigate extremism? Block elaborates quite specifically on how to bring citizens together in concrete and practical terms - even giving advice about the recommended ambiance of the gathering spaces (use round tables rather than rectangular ones, make sure there are plants, and that the space has windows so participants can look out). The cases he uses to illustrate how to bring people together all do touch on issues that people have conflicting ideas about, or involve people who have up until the gatherings rarely interacted with each other previously. So some strong relationship building certainly was needed.
But in these instances, some form of equality was assumed by the participants: they acknowledged each other's role in community building. But how to get people who hold racist and fascist views, and who consider themselves superior to others, who seek to destroy rather than build community in the first place - how to get them to reconsider their positions, and to return to society?

Still a recommended read.
Profile Image for Pam.
446 reviews
September 26, 2023
This is a very interesting book. Each chapter seems to repeat many of the premises of structuring community but in different ways. In later chapters, the author gives more examples. However, I wish there had more concrete explanations of how to actually put this concept into practice. I agree that too much effort, too many laws and too much money have been directed at 'fixing' problems that have not previously been fixed using the same methodology. A new way of bringing people together who don't usually hear or listen to what others say, is a good beginning. I would like to feel I could take this concept and run with it but don't feel well-informed enough to do so. I do agree with his assessment of the media and the over-whelming influence that it has on everyday life.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
29 reviews1 follower
November 18, 2017
I can't say enough good things about this book. I began reading it because I have been drawn lately to concepts surrounding community. I can say that it exceeded my expectations because it gets you thinking in a different way and looks at community from a "non-traditional" perspective (although I think one could argue what "non-traditional means as I feel this book goes back to community concepts that have been lost over the ages). I also loved that it provided a very refreshing perspective on leadership, and one that I believe is much needed in the world many of us want to move forward in creating. Great read for anyone interested in or working with community as well as leadership.
Profile Image for Candace.
10 reviews4 followers
July 9, 2019
I would rate this 6 stars if I could. Incredible resource for anyone interested in nonformal education, organizational development, nonprofit and civil society work; equally useful to millennials, philosophers, socially conscious, artistic or simply concerned; and a gem to be discovered for absolutely everyone else no matter what their interests or engagements.

I particularly love and find useful the sections on reframing our relationship to problem solving, assets and resource based appreciation, retributive vs reformative communities, inverting the question, and the series of discussions.

I think this is a lifelong top shelf book.
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