June 14, 2010
We are discovering that it takes a village to do more than raise a child. It is the key to a satisfying life. It turns out we need our neighbors in the community to be healthy, produce jobs, protect the land, and care for the elderly and those on the margin.
Our consumer society constantly tells us that we are insufficient and that we must purchase what we need from specialists and systems outside the community. We outsource our healthcare, childcare, recreation, safety, and satisfaction. We are trained to become consumers and clients, not citizens and neighbors. John McKnight and Peter Block take a thoughtful look at how this situation came about, what maintains it, and the crippling effect it has had on our families, our communities, and our environment.
Right in our neighborhood we have the capacity to address our human needs in ways that systems, which see us only as interchangeable units, as problems to be solved, never can. We all have gifts to offer, even the most seemingly marginal among us. This book suggests how to nurture voluntary, self-organizing structures that will reveal these gifts and allow them to be shared to the greatest mutual benefit. Block and McKnight recommend roles we can assume and actions we can take to reweave the social fabric that has been unraveled by consumerism and its belief that however much we have, it is not enough.
Each neighborhood has people with the gifts and talents needed to provide for our prosperity and peace of mind – this book offers practical ways to discover them. It reminds us of our power to create a hope-filled life. It assures us that ultimately we can be the architects of the future where we want to live.
John McKnight is emeritus professor of education and social policy and codirector of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University. He is the co-author of Building Communities from the Inside Out and the author of The Careless Society. He has been a community organizer and serves on the boards of several national organizations that support neighbourhood development.
Peter Block 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 Answer to How Is Yes, and Community. He is the recipient of numerous awards, most recently the Organization Development Network’s 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award.