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Community: The Structure of Belonging

Peter Block

Retail Price: $18.95
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Format: Paperback, 264pp.
ISBN: 9781605092775
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Pub. Date: September 1, 2009

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

Most of our communities are fragmented and at odds within themselves. Businesses, social services, education, and health care each live within their own worlds. The same is true of individual citizens, who long for connection but end up marginalized, their gifts overlooked, their potential contributions lost. What keeps this from changing is that we are trapped in an old and tired conversation about who we are. If this narrative does not shift, we will never truly create a common future and work toward it together.

What Peter 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? What can individuals and formal leaders do to create a place they want to inhabit? We know what healthy communities look like--there are many success stories out there. The challenge is how to create one in our own place.

Block helps us see how we can change the existing context of community from one of deficiencies, interests, and entitlement to one of possibility, generosity, and gifts. Questions are more important than answers in this effort, which means leadership is not a matter of style or vision but is about getting the right people together in the right way: convening is a more critical skill than commanding. As he explores the nature of community and the dynamics of transformation, Block outlines six kinds of conversation that will create communal accountability and commitment and describes how we can design physical spaces and structures that will themselves foster a sense of belonging.

In Community, Peter Block 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.


"From the person who gave us the best book written on business stewardship comes the best book on how to transform the places where we live, work, and play into authentic, effective communities. Some of Peter Block's conclusions may surprise you, but this compelling book is a must for all who love the places we call home enough to rethink our approach to building and maintaining community."
—Dennis Bakke, CEO, Imagine Schools, Cofounder and CEO Emeritus, AES Corporation, and author of Joy at Work

"Every earnest public servant, every volunteer, every disillusioned citizen, every civic leader, and every community activist or businessperson who truly want to make their communities better should read this book. It can serve as a guide or manual, but Community at its heart is a book of questions, and Peter gently and persistently reminds us that we are the answers."
—James Keene, President, Alliance for Innovation and Western Director, International City/County Management Association

"In this wonderfully practical book, Peter Block defines the nature of a community with manageable dimensions, creative directions, and hopeful possibilities. His methods lead us to a restoration of the joy of a genuine common life."
—John McKnight, Professor of Education and Social Policy, and Codirector, Asset-Based Community Development Institute, Northwestern University

"Peter Block clearly identifies the essential ingredients, qualities, questions, atmosphere. and actions needed to create and build vital communities filled with possibility, generosity, accountability, and deep engagement. Outstanding in its relevance, practicality, and clarity."
—Angeles Arrien, PhD, cultural anthropologist and author of The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom

"This book is more than practical advice on execution of theory; it is a spiritual primer for the building up of community and transforming hope that we so desperately need in today's world. Peter has touched us once again in that place we call `soul'".
—Clint Kemp, Founding Pastor, New Providence Community Church

"Peter's work has become the cornerstone of how our police department has developed over the years. What we have pleasantly discovered is that the more our capacity grows to work in partnership with each other, the more our capacity to serve our community is enhanced."
—Michael Butler, Chief of Police, Longmont, Colorado

"After being engaged for many years with transformations in the U.S., Latin America, and Africa, it is exciting to find a practical and deep methodology that integrates great ideas and points at new applications. Peter's book is critical for anyone concerned about reenergizing the quality of life in our workplaces and in our communities."
—Steve Zaffron, CEO, the Vanto Group, a Landmark Education Company

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About the Author

Peter Block is a citizen of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a partner in Designed Learning, a training company that offers workshops designed by Block to build the skills outlined in his books. He is the author of Flawless Consulting, Stewardship, The Empowered Manager, and The Answer to How Is Yes. He is the recipient of the American Society for Training and Development Award for Distinguished Contribution to Workplace Learning and Performance and the Association for Quality and Participation President's Award. He is also a member of Training magazine's HRD Hall of Fame.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Fragmented Community and Its Transformation1
The Fabric of Community
Insights into Transformation11
Shifting the Context for Community29
The Stuck Community37
The Restorative Community47
Taking Back Our Projections55
What It Means to Be a Citizen63
The Transforming Community73
The Alchemy of Belonging
Leadership Is Convening85
The Small Group Is the Unit of Transformation93
Questions Are More Transforming Than Answers101
Midterm Review111
The Possibility, Ownership, Dissent, Commitment, and Gifts Conversations123
Bringing Hospitality into the World145
Designing Physical Space That Supports Community151
The End of Unnecessary Suffering163
More: Book at a Glance177
Role Models and Resources187
About the Author237
About the Design239

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