Book review: The Abundant Community

The Abundant Community – Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods, By John McKnight, Peter Block

McKnight and Block are a development ‘dream team’.  John McKnight is a pioneer of the asset-based development movement and Peter Block is widely regarded as the consultant’s consultant; one of the very best facilitators of transformation and change.

‘There is a growing movement of people with a different vision for their local communities’. On this side of the Atlantic we might be forgiven for thinking that those with the vision are Cameron, Wei et al, the would-be architects of Big Society.  But McKnight and Block recognise that the people with the power to make the transformation happen are not the politicians and the civil servants, but the people that live in community and want it to be a place that they can love.

Central to this transformation is a rebalancing of community away from consumption towards a paradigm of production.  A paradigm where we spend less time earning to pay specialists to provide products and services that we could choose to make ourselves.

Little or no talk of place-making, regeneration and ribbon cutting projects.  Just people, relationships, skills, interests, passions, associations and what it means to be a competent community.  A place where people learn to support each other and make good thing happen. Of their own volition. Not that of their elected representatives.

The Abundant Community provides powerful and practical insights into how the work of building a competent community can be sustained – even without generous handouts from a benevolent state.

Stylistically the Americanese can be off-putting, but get past it and you will be generously rewarded.  One of the most important books of recent years.  Unless of course you make your money from the glass, steel and concrete approach to place-making.


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