Synopses & Reviews
Sharing Our Gifts
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.
“This book challenges the conventional wisdom about what you and I can do as citizens to shape our future. It offers concrete examples of what citizens can do and have done by drawing on resources in their families and communities.”
—David Mathews, President, Kettering Foundation
“This book is the basis for health and happiness in any society. A must-read.”
—Quentin Young, Chairman, Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, and former President, American Public Health Association
“‘What we need is here.’ That line from a Wendell Berry poem sums up the theme that runs through this vital and timely book. This book is a treasure. And it can help us recover the treasures hidden in plain sight within and among us, renewing ourselves and our democracy as we go.”
—Parker J. Palmer, founder of the Center for Courage and Renewal and author of A Hidden Wholeness, Let Your Life Speak, and The Courage to Teach
“Don’t wait for a politician, scientist, infomercial, or lottery ticket to come to the rescue. Read this powerful book and help yourself, your neighbors, and your planet to satisfying and sustainable solutions found only in community.”
—Jim Diers, former Director, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, and author of Neighbor Power
There is a growing movement of people with a different vision for their local communities. They know that real satisfaction and the good life are not provided by organizations, institutions, or systems. No number of great CEOs, central offices, or long range plans produce what a community can produce. People are discovering a new possibility for their lives. They have a calling. They are called. And together they call upon themselves.
This possibility is idealistic, and yet it is an ideal within our grasp. It is a possibility that is both idealistic and realistic. Our culture leads us to believe that a satisfying life can be purchased. It tells us that in the place where we live, we don't have the resources to create a good life. This book reminds us that a neighborhood that can raise a child, provide security, sustain our health, secure our income, and care for our vulnerable people is within the power of our community.
This book gives voice to our ideal of a beloved community. It reminds us of our power to create a hope-filled life. It assures us that when we join together with our neighbors we are the architects of the future where we want to live.
About the Author
John McKnight is emeritus professor of education and social policy at Northwestern University and is cofounder and codirector of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. He is the coauthor of Building Communities from the Inside Out and the author of The Careless Society. John serves on the Board of Directors of numerous community organizations including the Gamaliel Foundation and The National Training and Information Center.
Peter Block is an author and consultant. His work is about empowerment, stewardship, chosen accountability, and the reconciliation of community. He’s the author of Flawless Consulting, Stewardship, The Answer to How is Yes, and Community.
The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization with over 43,000 members that provides leadesrhip in the development of vital communities.
Table of Contents
The Elements of Satisfaction
The Universal Properties
PART I: THE SHIFT FROM CITIZEN TO CONSUMER
Chapter One: The Limits of Consumption
Chapter Two: What Did We Lose and Where Did It Go?
Chapter Three: The Effects of Living in a Consumer World
PART II: CHOOSING A SATISFIED LIFE
Chapter Four: The Abundant Community
Chapter Five: Community Abundance in Action
PART III: CREATING ABUNDANCE
Chapter Six: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods