The Structure of Belonging

Book - 2008
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Training and development consultant Block discusses how to foster community in organizations. His ideas are based on the following principles: that the essential work is to build social fabric for its own sake and to enable accountability, strong associational life is essential and central, citizens who use their power to convene other citizens are what create an alternative future, the small group is the unit of transformation, and all transformation is linguistic and community is therefore essentially a conversation. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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We need our neighbors and community to stay healthy, produce jobs, raise our children, and care for those on the margin. Institutions and professional services have reached their limit of their ability to help us.

The consumer society tells us that we are insufficient and that we must purchase what we need from specialists and systems outside the community. We have become consumers and clients, not citizens and neighbors. John McKnight and Peter Block show that we have the capacity to find real and sustainable satisfaction right in our neighborhood and community.

This book reports on voluntary, self-organizing structures that focus on gifts and value hospitality, the welcoming of strangers. It shows how to reweave our social fabric, especially in our neighborhoods. In this way we collectively have enough to create a future that works for all.
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: San Francisco : Berrett-Koehler Publishers, c2008
Edition: 1st ed
Description: xiii, 240 p. ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9781576754870
Branch Call Number: 307 Blo


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Jul 12, 2016

Anyone involved in community building work needs to read this book. Peter Block gets it. My copy is filled with highlighter markings and I have referred back to it many times.

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