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Rekindling Democracy: A Professional's Guide to Working in Citizen Space

4.91  ·  Rating details ·  68 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Finally, a book that offers a practical yet well-researched guide for practitioners seeking to hone the way they show up in citizen space.
At a time when public trust in institutions is at its lowest, expectations of those institutions to make people well, knowledgeable, and secure are rapidly increasing. These expectations are unrealistic, causing disenchantment and diseng
Paperback, First, 290 pages
Published June 1st 2020 by Wipf and Stock
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Joop Hofman
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
And then finally there is thé book by Cormac Russell. Many people know his TedTalk, others hung on his lips during a speech, still others have experienced his ABCD training. And everything, really everything Cormac has told, experienced, gained insights and especially heard from hundreds of communities all over the world is now packed in 253pages in this book.
It is the future standard work for professionals in community building.
And then it is so beautiful as a citizen of Deventer (Netherlands)t
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Most discussions about community speak on platitudes; instead Cormac dives deep into the sociology of what it takes to actually create community. He introduces us to Connectors, Conductors, Circuit Breakers and Dynamos. For all those familiar with Malcolm Gladwell and his seminal book, The Tipping Point, and his definitions of Mavens, Connectors and Salespeople – Cormac’s philosophy will be easy to grab hold of. Aside from Gladwell and Russell though, few burrow down into the mechanics of how co ...more
Paul Wright
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Since my first encounter with Cormac he has become a source of inspiration, wisdom, encouragement, and challenge for me in my community building with my neighbours. But deeper than that he has become a companion on a journey of discovery assisting me, and many others, to find the hidden treasure in the abundance of our communities. This book is another wonderful encounter with Cormac offering deep insight, knowledge, stories, theory, wisdom, experiences, and good examples.

As always with all my e
Al Etmanski
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Attending a Cormac Russell presentation always leaves me wanting more. More stories, more lessons and more revelations. Rekindling Community is that more. It's the complete Cormac. A guide to rethinking, refreshing and reversing the current course of our democracies in favour of nurturing the caring actions of so called ordinary citizens. And of course as Cormac nicely illustrates this is not a pipe dream. Everyday, everywhere people are stepping up and doing their bit – caring for each other as ...more
Nick Gardham
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Cormac is an inspirational author and academic who challenges the mainstream through his authentic and credible arguments for the importance of citizen centred approaches.

Through this book, Cormac pulls no punches in holding up the mirror to those in power presenting to those who operate in the civic realm to be mindful when then show up in communities through programmes and outside interventions. This book constructively challenges the current state of our society through a carefully interwove
Mandy Cowden
Jul 17, 2020 marked it as to-read
This is a magnificent book. If like myself you are a professional it will cause you to think, to reconsider and to be inspired to do better. It is at times both uncomfortable and thought provoking.I read it, and wanted to talk to Cormac about it! Always the sign of a good book when it sets you off on a train of thinking and ideas.
Mandy Cowden.
Jess Steele
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is time to reboot democracy by rekindling community. Cormac Russell subtly weaponises this seemingly benign and fluffy thought with an argument that hits hard if you let it. It is not institutions or the state that help people survive or thrive. In every instance – from heat waves to healthcare – the solution is Community. Connectedness and active citizenship are shown to be foundational for wellbeing yet systematically undervalued and undermined.

Neighbourhoods are places in need of recovery
Jim Diers
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the face of racism, climate change, the erosion of democracy, a growing gap between rich and poor, and epidemics ranging from loneliness to COVID-19, Cormac Russell reminds us that there is no substitute for the power of the people. Rekindling Democracy demonstrates that these overwhelming global problems can best be addressed at the scale of our neighborhoods and that the key agents of change are our neighbors working together as a community. Citing examples from all over the world, Russell ...more
Mark Gilman
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
All of my professional life, and all my life before that, I have watched as professionals of all kinds have made their careers by trying to help people who are 'marginalised'. Sometimes, this work and these interventions have been life saving. Other times, these interventions have made bad situations worse. This book is essential reading for anyone in the health and social care sector who plies their trade in communities that they do not live in and, to be brutal, do not understand. Reading this ...more
Neal Gorenflo
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rekindling Community is a timely reminder of what's essential to a healthy democratic societies -- the ability to mobilize community assets for the common good, the daily practice of democracy with neighbors, and strong local economies that share wealth. There's no more relevant book today as we suffer so deeply from social isolation, political polarization, and widening inequalities. To heal as a nation and meet daunting 21st century challenges like climate change, we must first restore our abi ...more
Steve Phaure
Cormac Russell puts right the absence of a coherent political narrative that places citizens at the centre of democracy by creating it here with a wonderful cast of conspirators who join him in questioning certainties, in challenging the masters of maintaining the status quo and in seeing through the masks of love worn by progressives and professional helpers. We’re invited on a voyage of discovery towards a citizen-centred democracy that starts small with neighbourhoods as primary units of chan ...more
Jean-Louis Lamboray
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Our postman, a man from Niger once told me: “I am surprised that you Belgians tend to turn to the
administration for issues which you could easily resolve on your own. If you only spoke with your
neighbors …”
Why do we need to recover our ability to act for the common good with our neighbors?
And how shall we do it?
As I work with my own village, Rekindling Community gives me the words to answer the former and criteria to put in place the latter. The book does not stop there, as it opens pathways f
Shaun McBride
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book pulls together all the currently available literature and themes that surround the Asset-Based Community Development movement, combined with his own experiences, into one, easy-to-read and accessible tome of the field. It's a must-read for anyone interested in ABCD, and all future theoretical development will be standing on the shoulders of this giant. ...more
Mrs E
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Having heard Cormac talk about communities previously, I was intrigued as to how his ability to inspire an audience would translate to text. This book definitely provides the combination of inspiration and challenge that we’d expect from him. Cormac challenges us to consider our position personally and professionally within society, and even if we think we are attempting to facilitate change alongside communities – are we really doing that? His Seven Habits of Institutional Radicals and Seven Ha ...more
Mervyn Eastman
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From the 19th Century Charities attempting to augment public sector intervention in addressing pauperism, through to the professionalization of community development, we have in recent times, been forced to critique community engagement strategies which by and large have become exclusionary, impoverishing, patronizing, paternalistic and homogenising.

"Rekindling Democracy" moves us from colonial and post-colonial models which disempower ( and still do) towards, and this is the genius of Cormac Ru
Mick Hanratty
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Cormac has provided us with nothing less than a manifesto on how to live well and how we all need to act to provide this good life. His great talent of getting a message across with easy to understand thoughts and stories allows the reader to engage and feel that they are part of the narrative. The subjects covered are abundant and the depth of Cormac's knowledge and experience comes very much to the fore.

As he says in the book

"...we are human, fallible, finite, and fabulous. Gloriously interd
C Murnin
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rekindling Democracy offers information, evidence, self-reflection & challenging questions that are relevant anytime but invaluable during this pandemic! With a mix of practical learning points, shared examples of community stories from around the world & a call to action, this book has encouraged me to understand the mistakes that I’ve made in labelling communities & trying to ‘fix’ things but has fired me up to develop my thinking & connections in my professional & personal work. A Fire Soul!
Tom Dewar
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a welcome and clarifying contribution to contemporary community building. Cormac places Asset Based Community Development into historical and comparative context. He looks back to founding ideas and integrates them into an overall understanding of where we are and how we got here. Here he carefully reviews a wide range of influences on ABCD and applies their insights in clear and memorable ways.

An insightful ABCD practitioner himself, he is always on the lookout for rich and clarify
Zizi Charida
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
More than just a critique of the dysfunction of the current social, economic and political system, Rekindling Democracy: A Professional’s Guide to Working in Citizen Space is an invitation, a call to action, to re-ignite and re-imagine our communities. A must read.
Ian Wilson
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rekindling Democracy is one of those books that repay more than one reading especially if, like me, you keep finding yourself nodding along and agreeing. A part of the pleasure is thinking of who to gift a copy to, whilst remembering to keep your own note filled copy. Releasing nuggets and the every present turn of phrase inviting to be shared. To find your core ideas and beliefs so eloquently summarised and then developed and taken to new places is comforting and also on reflection part of the ...more
Rupert Suckling
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the tradition of Ivan Illich, Cormac Russell brings to life heartfelt stories of honesty, provocation and hope that reclaim health for communities and the commons. The habits and tools described within these pages demonstrate a different form of public service one based on assets and assent not deficits and dependency. Not only essential reading but essential practice for professionals tasked to stand alongside communities.
John Nickson
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I warmly recommend Conrad Russell's timely book about the threat to democracy and how to secure it by community action.. Democracy is morphing into plutocracy. We see the signs all around us, not least in the rise of extremist politics and societal challenges posed by marginalised communities ravaged by recession, austerity and now, a pandemic.

What to do? In Rekindling Democracy, Cormac Russell shines a brilliant light upon the problem. The solution is to rekindle our communities, not by top d
Paul Rogers
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In Rekindlindling Democracy: A Professional’s Guide to Working in Citizen Space, Cormac brings insights from years of experience at the coal face of civic and community life. He shares with us a breadth of experience that sheds light on many of the key challenges facing society and highlights how we might shift our thinking to reveal the true power and potential of community in addressing those challenges. It is a timely book in the current global context and presents an alternative view that is ...more
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Cormac’s book Rekindling Community is a valuable antidote to professional and service-led ‘solutions’ which can often get in the way of the very outcomes they seek. In the spirit of ABCD he weaves theory with the many stories he has gathered from his own extensive practice to build a compelling argument for change.

Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good work goes on in every community, in every place on earth. Cormac gives us a philosophy and framework for encouraging us to build on the best that is within and all around us. To enter the world in this way makes us a better, stronger people.
Rich Jones
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved the book. I read this while on retreat to the Abbey of Gethsemane. Which is appropriate as it gave me time to digest so much!

It is hard to be critical of this book. I have read, listened, watched, and have been blessed to be around Cormac in different settings for a few years now, and have enjoyed our friendship. So, much of what I read resonated with my experience of you, along with John McKnight, Peter Block, Walter Brueggemann, and so many others. Great company and simply notes the r
Philip Booth
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
At last a book that brings together in one place all those ideas that support and build on Asset Based Community Development practice. It was great to see some of Cormac Russells' blogs reworked - and to see a host of new stuff that I had not come across like Stan Hallett. Even though I was familiar with many of the stories, it was good to see the way they are used to deepen our understanding of community building. As a former Social Worker, District councillor and Community Builder, I got lots ...more
H Northall
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
In many cases communities are an untapped resource to provide the support systems needed to ensure the sustainability of services and the population itself. Well intended professional support can cut across these embryonic networks and associations. The trick is to know when to leave communities alone to provide support to their members and when, with permission, from the community to provide external support. Cormac captures these important themes and outlines the risks of well –intended suppor ...more
John OBrien
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
In this significant contribution to explaining the “why: of ABCD in depth, Cormac Russell puts ABCD in context by accounting the costs and causes of delegating the irreplaceable functions of community life to systems and services that reduce citizens to deficient clients and needy consumers. He offers an accessible critique of the cultural forces that ABCD confronts and tells memorable stories that illuminate the small, local, relational alternatives to colonization by expert institutions that A ...more
Ralph Peake
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Cormac Russell’s understanding of successful marketing techniques and the “Institutional Assumption” Cormac has highlighted the grip professional care services has on our society.
‘Rekindling Community’ helps us understand that if we want to regain autonomy over our own lives and share a sustainable future we would do well to build stronger communities rather than expect Government to meet your needs and turn us into service users.
Ralph Peake MHK
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