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The Art of Community: Seven Principles for Belonging

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  405 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Create a Culture of Belonging!

Strong cultures help people support one another, share their passions, and achieve big goals. And such cultures of belonging aren't just happy accidents - they can be purposefully cultivated, whether they're in a company, a faith institution or among friends and enthusiasts. Drawing on 3,000 years of history and his personal experience, Charl
Paperback, 216 pages
Published September 12th 2016 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers
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Nov 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great food for thought. However, I found the most value not in the meat of the book -- where the author breaks down seven "principles" or hallmarks of a community -- but rather in the storytelling portions of his introduction and appendix, where he describes how he struggled to fit in throughout most of his life and then, in graduate school, learned to build a new community from scratch by hosting weekly dinners in his home. His discussion of "principles" is sensible and includes helpful modern- ...more
William Anderson
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I had a hard time getting past how religion focused this book is. The author by no means preaches or converts but the lens through which everything is taught is very much that of someone who is deeply involved with some religious affiliation.

The most valuable lesson (still taught through a religious lens) is that of novice community members being concerned about their gains and the most experienced caring about the world as a whole. This is largely explained through a rather lengthy summarizatio
Sandy H
Having read a lot of books on community, coming at it from a variety of perspectives, I found this book to be a good overview but didn’t particularly add to my own body of knowledge. That being said, if you haven’t done much study on community yet this might be a good place to start. It it, as I said, a good overview with some solid principles and “real-life” examples.
Ashley Price
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is an excellent introduction to creating a functional community and understanding group dynamics. While the author has the most experience in religious communities, he makes sure to feature online and informal communities, discussing the principles present there in depth.

I read this at the suggestion of a member of my church, and it's definitely helped me understand part of why my church is struggling. The leadership of ADF would benefit from reading and discussing this book.
Mar 23, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. By far the best book I've read for our office bookclub so far. Interesting way of looking at communities as intentionally built groups that goes far beyond the traditional understanding of communities. Interesting and I've already discussed some of the 7 principles in social contexts. ...more
Josh Karnowski
The value of this book comes from its simplicity. It does a good job of defining what does and does not constitute "a community" and what one should consider when creating or joining a community as a participant/member.

This was the first book I've read about the topic and I think it's a good introduction because of how general it is. As other reviewers have pointed out, there are other books (which I will read) that cover ideas in this book more comprehensively and from alternate angles.

The aut
Oana Filip
Dec 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I guess I had big expectations from this book because I heard of it a couple of times from people who run communities in a way or another. If this was the first lecture in community building, I think the impact would have been different. Being one of the many books I came across since wearing the community builder hat (since 2011), the value I got is thinner. While I resonate with most of the author's general principles, I wanted so depth, going the extra mile if you wish.

I recommend it mostly f
Elena Astilleros
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading about people being on a quest to make it into an inner circle, and there always being a more inner circle helped me see individuals I thought were elitist in a whole new way. I have a little more compassion for their strife, and also realized I needed to restructure work groups with the principles laid out here.
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it
If you want to start your own religion, these are the 7 steps to make it happen.
Kira Thebookbella
This book is a frame work for how to build a community around you and what all communities need to thrive and do well. This book really only had actual information up until page 143. After that, the rest was supplemental material.

I really expected more from this. This really had a ton of abstract applications and I understand that all community building is an art and that it will be different for everyone, but somehow I feel cheated I did not get more from this. I found the ideas very interesti
May 10, 2020 added it
Shelves: non-fiction
I was asked to work on creating a campaign centered around loneliness and so I began to look up books on community to see if it cold help me frame the campaign. I guzzled Art of Community like a sailor during fleet week.

I love Charle's stories about how he found community and his step by step process of designing a community. I download his free worksheets from his webpage and worked through them all to design a campus club and it was well worth the effort.

If you care about designing a communi
I loved the book because it was succinct and yet seemed quite complete when it comes to group structures and dynamics. I thoroughly enjoyed that the author talks about communities in a general context that can be applied to many different group settings, be it hobby groups, neighbourhood groups, online communities as well as corporate teams.

Some examples are taken from religious communities, related to the author's background and experience, however he manages to draw general principles from th
Zetsubou Sensei
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I feel like it's a handy guide for community leaders.
The book is a good guideline and a great facilitator for discussion in a book club.

The principles are pretty straight-forward and I like the example he used regarding his dinner parties.

As I read the book, I kept drawing and relating the principles back to my own experience with communities and groups. I think I would review this book if I am interested in becoming a new community leader or to improve a community.
Jeremy Winaker
Short introduction

This book is short. It compiles a number of keys to building community with an eye to lessons from religious practices. O far prefer The Art of Gathering as a source for building community, though Vogl's inner rings and guardians are important reminders on how to maintain community.
Kevin Dieu
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a must read for me to understand communities. The crisis of belonging, although a short section in the book, stood out to me. Imposter syndrome is something everyone goes through and Charle’s example of how it can be defeated through the power of invitations is just - wow. Must read for anyone looking to build communities!!
This book is integral to online community management. This book helped me clearly architect and evaluate a couple of communities I was managing and was really nice to have an "official" resource to direct stakeholders and senior leadership into the "why" we were (or weren't) doing certain actions. It was a great way to be mindful while also keeping humans at the center of our important work. ...more
Cleydyr Albuquerque
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
There are interesting insights on this book on how to build a community using a variety of principles, academic references and examples. I read this in order to build communities around volunteering and open source software and I think I've made the right choice. It's so rich that I'm sure to keep this on my reference list in order to appreciate it. ...more
Peter Poutiatine
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent short read on the characteristics of strong communities of all kinds. In a way, it is a reverse engineering of community building. Vogl deconstructs everything from clubs to cults to large organizations. Apt, pithy, and illuminating.
Zak Schmoll
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
In my never ending quest to study the development of community, I came across this book. It can be applied in both secular and religious contexts, and the author draws examples from both. The most striking thing I took from this book is that community is not hard to build. All it takes to begin a community is a group of people who care about each other's well-being. Of course communities grow and evolve from there, but often times the overcomplicate what we need to start a new community. All it ...more
Nov 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Some interesting points, but the insistence that the reader is going to apply this knowledge to be a (better) community leader feels like a PowerPoint presentation at an assistant managers' conference. ...more
Ric Raftis
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting insights

Thought provoking book on developing community. Some good ideas and online resources to download for free. You will need to think outside the square to apply the lessons in the book to your particular situation.
Sue Ronnenkamp
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of my research books for an upcoming work project. Some interesting new ideas to ponder.
Miko Lee
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Great handbook for community organizing. Comes with worksheets and great story examples.
Margie Kuzminski
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
A really valuable professional development resource for teachers and administrators, with great ideas for formation activities for student leaders as well as faculty.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good introduction to community building principles. I would have liked more depth though.
Christian Hanson

I'd recommend this to anyone who is a manager or does any type of creative work. The amount of information in here is extraordinary.
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm giving this four stars for the author. I heard him speak and loved his ideas. The book was very similar to his talk, and is full of really good ideas. ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting concepts around the building blocks of community.
Jennifer Allen
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. (summer reading book for school)

I liked the “Beginning with Acknowledgment” chapter most. I loved the way the author celebrates his birthday each year. So cool!
Zvi Band
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the better books I’ve read about community building. Well structured, very tactical, and cites good examples.
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