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

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,048 ratings  ·  118 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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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
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.
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
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.
Nafiseh Miraei
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... ...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
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
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
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
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
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, d
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
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book about creating and developing community. Importance of asking good questions - what will you gain or lose by changing/staying the same? Can your community thrive if you don't make some changes and if you are not part of the change?
Raechel Guest
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although portions of the book are a little bit abstract, overall it is a fantastic guide to community building, community organizing, and the various ways in which people can effect positive change in their communities.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
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???
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book. I plan on using many of the techniques and approaches in an upcoming theater project.
Chuck Cova
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. So much insight and gave me so many ideas...
Inspiring and informative. Clearly presented with appropriate examples. A great reference.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I listened to the audiobook. Many interesting ideas and jumping off points. I will purchase a hard copy for future reference.
Mar 24, 2015 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
Mar 21, 2014 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
Sep 15, 2012 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
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting approach to community building with lots of examples.
Nov 16, 2008 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
Alex Lee
Dec 12, 2015 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
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“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?” 5 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.” 4 likes
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