Creating Change through Consent and Connectedness with Peter Block

Submitted by Community Animator on September 22, 2015 - 5:10pm

Circle of hands in the sandIn this podcast, Paul Born speaks with Peter Block about the emerging narrative of community that results when we shift our thinking from reforming what is to focusing upon the alternative we want to create.  This is done in small groups through conversations that emphasize one another's gifts. 

Learning Objectives:

  • To explore the power of community in these times
  • To highlight the distinction between reform and change
  • To consider elements of the new narrative for community
  • To describe the actions that support community

Access Podcast Highlights...

What Time Is It?

Peter opens by sharing his perspective of what's happening in the world. Acknowledging that opposites always co-exist, Peter describes the dominant view of the past thirty years being primarily one of centralization and fundamentalism...a world filled with certainty. However, at the same time, he is witnessing a newer alternative now beginning to emerge. In the following clip, Peter describes that there are countless "little things" that are part of a new pattern that signals this new alternative.

What We Need More Of?

Before answering this question, Peter offers listeners a caution: "Don't avoid seeing what is." It is important that we see the reality of what's going on around us and acknowledge it but then avoid putting your energy into "reforming" it. In fact, Peter states clearly that he does not believe that "reform efforts" have any power. Listen in the clip below as Peter offers his thoughts about where our energy and emphasis should be focused.

Shifting the Paradigm

The work of embracing the new reality that is emerging is a lot about shifting our own thinking rather than trying to reform what and how things currently are in small ways. At the core, this requires us to give voice to an alternative future, shifting our narrative towards one that is a communal narrative. This shift will also invite us to change our relationship to things and to each other. In the following clip, Peter describes this shift in narrative.
Accelerating the Opportunity of Community

Peter understands that conversations are central to any effort to change the world's dominant narrative. This is done by asking questions in small groups, focusing on what's working and emphasizing "gift-mindedness". Peter also acknowledges that part of this work involves "making visible and central what was invisible and peripheral." Ultimately this is work that requires a focus on details and a willingness to go slow. Listen here as Peter describes these various elements and envisions them being put into action.

Overcoming Isolation

Peter is clear that individual change in isolation won't generate a change in the dominant narrative that we are seeking. A central element of this work is to help people overcome their feelings of isolation because when we feel alone we feel powerless. The essence of these ideas is outlined by Peter in the following clip:
Writings to Ground This Work

Peter shares that his own thinking is expanded when he "goes into unfamiliar places" and reads the work of others whose world view and/or field of study is quite different from his own. Citing authors from the fields of religion, economics, new journalism, art, health care and education, he provides listeners with a diverse list of recommended readings to ground in as they unfold this work. Listen in the following clip as Peter outlines some of his favourite recommended readings.

Youth, Communiy and Social Media

Today's youth, with their ease and access to technology and social media, seem to view community globally rather than locally. In response to a question about how to engage youth in deep and rich conversations through social media, Peter shares his thoughts and ideas about engaging youth. Listen in the following clip as Peter describes what he believes youth are longing for and what he believes is the best question to ask them.

Revitalizing Neighbourhoods

In response to a question about the work of revitalizing neighbourhoods, Peter makes a distinction between meeting your neighbours and getting to know them. Ultimately building strong neighbourhoods is about helping neighbours to understand how to share their gifts with one another and work together to care for the space where they live. In the following clip, Peter describes the essence of this work, which he describes as "connecting the social fabric of a physical space."



Reflection Questions

  • How would I begin to express a new narrative for community based on what I've heard in this call?
  • What are the "questions with accountability" that I want to into the next gatherings that I am part of?
  • What would support me in slowing down and being present within the conversations I am part of today?
  • In what ways do I want to change my relationship with things and with others? What would support me in doing that?

Links and Resources

Some Suggested Readings Recommended by Peter Block – Here is a suggested reading list recommended by Peter Block. It can be found on his own website

Abundant Community – This website profile's Peter's collaborative work with John McKnight on Abundant Communities. In addition to profiling the book itself, this site also features blogs, resources, tools and other links to further this work in community.

Community: The Structure of Belonging – In this podcast on, Peter explores the core ideas outlined in his thought-provoking book of the same name.

The Economy Is In Our Hands, We Just Don't Know It – This recent blog post by Peter on the Abundant Community website highlights six things that citizens can do to make the economy better.

What in the Name of Reform - Peter's most recent article in Engage! articulates the short-comings he sees with the reform paradigm and outlines an alternative model for thinking about supporting meaningful change within communities.

Meet Peter Block

Peter BlockPeter Block - Peter Block is an internationally renowned business leader, best-selling author and community enthusiast. The author of many highly acclaimed books including Community: The Structure of Belonging and The Abundant Community with co-author John McKnight. His most widely known business books include Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used and Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest. These books are about ways to create communities and workplaces that work for all. His work is to bring change into the world through consent and connectedness rather than by mandate and force. Peter is dynamic with a highly tuned ear for the transformational.