Peter Block’s Community offers an excellent overview of the nature of community and how ordinary people can join together for new conversations and transformation.

In his “Welcome,” Block writes that his book is for:

anyone who wants to be a part of creating an organization, neighborhood, city, or country that works for all.

Block presents his ideas in a helpful, user-friendly format. Each chapter begins with an short overview. At the end of the book, Block provides a reference guide to the book that he encourages readers to “copy and use at will.” This “Book at a Glance” brings together all the key ideas and questions of the text. By providing these helpful and practical features, Block is ensuring that his book will be used a a handbook and guide by individuals looking to make a difference where they live and work.

One of Block’s goals in discussing community is to help people understand how they can get involved in creating a new future in which “communities create a wider sense of belonging among their citizens.” Block is not interested in the transformation of individuals; he asserts that the transformation of individuals does not result in the transformation of community.

In this book, Block admits that community building is complex:

(Community buidling) occurs in an infinite number of small steps, sometimes in quiet moments that we notice out of the corner of our eye.

While community building may be slow and small scale, Block offers concrete suggestions of how to get started. He draws on the wisdom of other scholars and real life examples to define and illustrate community.

His view of leadership in community building moves away from the idea of positional leadership. In communal transformation,

leadership is about intention, convening, valuing relatedness, and presenting choices…Not leader as a special person, but leader as a citizen willing to do those things that have the capacity to initiate something new in the world.

He outlines three leadership tasks for community transformation. Leaders:

  • Create a context that nutures an alternative future based on gifts, generosity, accountability, and commitment.
  • Initiate and convene conversations that shift people’s experiences.
  • Listen and pay attention.

In my next post, I will share more ideas from Block’s book. In the meantime, if you are interested in building community in your workplace, neighborhood, or city, I encourage you to get a copy of this book and read along with me to be challenged and inspired.

This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission.