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.
|Publisher:||Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)|
Table of Contents
Introduction The Fragmented Community and Its Transformation 1
Part 1 The Fabric of Community
Chapter 1 Insights into Transformation 11
Chapter 2 Shifting the Context for Community 29
Chapter 3 The Stuck Community 37
Chapter 4 The Restorative Community 47
Chapter 5 Taking Back Our Projections 55
Chapter 6 What It Means to Be a Citizen 63
Chapter 7 The Transforming Community 73
Part 2 The Alchemy of Belonging
Chapter 8 Leadership is Convening 85
Chapter 9 The Small Group is the Unit of Transformation 93
Chapter 10 Questions Are More Transforming than Answers 101
Midterm Review 111
Chapter 11 Invitation 113
Chapter 12 The Possibility, Ownership, Dissent, Commitment, and Gifts Conversations 123
Chapter 13 Bringing Hospitality into the World 145
Chapter 14 Designing Physical Space that Supports Community 151
Chapter 15 The End of Unnecessary Suffering 163
More Book at a Glance 177
Role Models and Resources 187
About the Author 237
About the Design 239
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"The future is created one room at a time, one gathering at a time." In an effort to expand my own knowledge and to become better connected to the concepts that power the field of planning, I read a respectable amount of planning related literature. Most of the literature takes a concept, explains it, provides some examples of how that concept is being used in other places, and then provides a stepping off point for others interested in integrating that concept into the planning efforts within their own jurisdiction. Community is not that book. The author, Peter Block, attempts to create a more transformative dialog related to the concept of community engagement. Rather than tossing out some tried and true ideas that the reader might be looking for more information on, Block presents a more revolutionary narrative. With an extremely calm, collected demeanor Block explains the current situation as it relates to community and then shows how community can become more open, more engaging, and more inclusive. Block's model moves away from the more standard approaches that inevitably fuel the dichotomies often present in our communities today toward a model structured around understanding and belonging. Block also moves away from illustrating a cookie-cutter technique and instead illustrates the broad concepts that we can employee to create this dialog. The reader is granted an opportunity to fill in the appropriate gaps in order to make Block's ideas fit their needs. Block's ideas of communities lend power to the individuals that occupy them. Citizens have control of their own future and aren't represented by "leaders" in a traditional sense. "In communal transformation, leadership is about intention, convening, valuing relatedness, and presenting choices." Block advocates for leaders that create opportunities to bring people together. Those individuals are "conveners" of meetings and aren't there to direct the conversations taking place, but instead they are there to ensure that the conditions are optimized for the conversations that need to take place. I was intrigued by the concepts of questions and answers that Block presents. Instead of centering meetings around providing answers to questions, meetings can focus on presenting the right questions. Block theorizes that questions provide more openness and potential than answers which often doom us to repeat the past. Block also examines advice under a similar light pointing out that advice only limits our potential to the techniques that have been explored by those giving the advice. Block presents his case in a format that allows the reader to incorporate his model into their community meetings. He gives vivid examples of areas where similar ideas have been employed and he shows how his ideas can be merged into our system of community engagement. Community: the Structure of Belonging is a great companion to the Organizer's Handbook. Block reaches a much greater level of detail and provides a graphic explanation as to why each concept is important (down to seemingly minute details such as room arrangement). Block's writing style is approachable, interesting, and extremely motivational. Block provides the information possible to enable us to "shift our conversations from the problems of community to the possibility of community".
EVERYONE should read this book. It provides an overwhelming rationalization of the importance of the vitality and structure of our communities. For an understanding of how this vision can be put in place - I suggest you google the Westchester, New York Department of Senior Programs and Services and read about their Livable Communities Initiative and their Livable Communities Caregiver Coaching program. Thoughts and words put in to action to make a difference around us.
I am in a small church community that is in transition. to that end, a group of us have decided to read books about building community and discuss them on a weekly basis. If you are looking for a book in the hope of finding ideas for practical activities to build a community, I do not believe this book does it. Block takes easy pot shots at traditional social structures, but does not demonstrate that he has the knowledge or practical skill to build something lasting to replace them. Broad sweeping unsupported generalizations do not constitute insight.