Peter Block is a partner in Designed Learning, a training company that offers workshops on building skills. There is a widespread yearning for community in our culture of individualism and self-absorption. Isolation, fragmentation, and disconnection are rampant in all segments of society from the walled-in enclaves of the wealthy to the ghettos of poor people to the displacement of the unemployed and the homeless. In this timely and cogent paperback, Block presents ways we can transform communities and create a meaningful and richer sense of belonging and interdependence.
This shift can take place when we change our ideas. For example:
• "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."
Block assesses the challenges faced by those in communities stuck in a rut and those in restorative communities where citizen activism and trusting conversations take place. In his discussion of what he calls "the alchemy of belonging," the author covers these topics: leadership that values choices and relatedness, the small group as the unit of transformation, questions as being more important than answers, an emphasis upon the welcoming of strangers, and six kinds of conversation that promote communal accountability and commitment (invitation, possibility, ownership, dissent, commitment, and gifts)). Throughout the book Block presents examples of transformative communities that are working.