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

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,369 ratings  ·  142 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
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  1,369 ratings  ·  142 reviews

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Kristine Morris
Aug 03, 2012 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
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
Oct 26, 2014 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
Nov 02, 2009 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
Jul 29, 2010 added it
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. ...more
Paul Goble
Oct 31, 2009 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
Sam Young
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
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 boo
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
First half of the book really transformed my thinking -- extremely useful for all people concerned with community engagement.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it
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.
Abu Shaikh
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.
Ryan Lucas
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 iss ...more
Mitch Olson
Jul 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
A pretty good framework for building a “structure of belonging”. I particularly appreciated his “6 conversations that matter” (Ref

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.
Alex Witkowski
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Elizabeth Wallace
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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!
Caleb Leman
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 liber ...more
Susan (aka Just My Op)
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
Jun 25, 2009 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
Taking Back Our Projections
What It Means to a Citizen
The Transforming Community

Part Two: The Alchemy of Belonging
Leadership Is Convening
Izetta Autumn
Sep 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 23, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Jun 18, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2010-11
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 transforme ...more
Courtney Tobin
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 weir
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 i ...more
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 l ...more
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 appreciatio
Larkin Tackett
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has really influenced how I think about creating change through community building. Instead of vision statements and strategic priorities, Peter Block argues we should pay much closer attention to how a small group of people choose to come together, develop relationships, ask each other powerful questions, and begin to take accountability for their collective well-being. Two questions Block poses that resonate the most for helping a community envision possibilities in the face of intra ...more
Ronnie Smith
Mar 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Winson Law
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Community made me think differently about how to create engaged, committed, generous communities. Block challenged me to break down notions of scale and efficiency that are endemic in the spaces I work in (startups and entrepreneurship). It was refreshing to learn that communities can come together and that conversations themselves drive a sense of possibility rather than solutions for problems. This possibility is achieved from decentralized, bottom-up, accountable, and engaged individuals.

Andraya Parenteau
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are many awesome concepts in this book such as accountability, leadership, transformation and the power of being an active citizen. It has great anecdotes and Block writes in a way that can easily be understood. I will say the book can be a little dry at points and kind of hammers the same concepts over and over again. It could have been shorter and I would have gotten just as much out of it
Bernard Sia
May 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Good topic, the 3 star is because of the jumpy nature of each chapter.
within one chapter it tends to jump into one citations into another.
Would advice
1) the chapters be isolated into specific topics
2) carry the topics over with a sense of flow.

In summary, would have been better rearranged into 3 key parts.
- possibilities versus liability and blame
- joint accountability
- social capital generated from the community
Finally finished!!! There are sections of it that seemed like verbose fluff, but other parts I kept shouting at (out of excitement) and would like to read again and again and againnnn. Where can I find more books on this topic???
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84 likes · 20 comments
“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. For at the most operational and practical level, after all the thinking about policy, strategy, mission, and milestones, it gets down to this: How are we going to be when we gather together?” 8 likes
“• We are a community of possibilities, not a community of problems. • Community exists for the sake of belonging and takes its identity from the gifts, generosity, and accountability of its citizens. It is not defined by its fears, its isolation, or its penchant for retribution. • We currently have all the capacity, expertise, programs, leaders, regulations, and wealth required to end unnecessary suffering and create an alternative future.” 7 likes
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