“There’s a growing movement of people with a different vision for their local communities. They know that real satisfaction and the good life cannot be provided by corporations, institutions, or systems. No number of great executives, central offices, technical innovations, or long-range plans can produce what a community can produce. People are discovering that satisfying possibilities for their lives are in the neighborhood, not in the marketplace.
“In many nations, local people have come together to pursue a common calling. They are groups of local people who have the courage to discover their own way — to create a culture made by their own vision. It is a handmade, homemade vision. And wherever we look, it is a culture that starts the same way, with an awakening:
FIRST, we see the abundance that we have — individually, as neighbors, and in this place of ours.
SECOND, we know that the power of what we have grows from creating new connections and relationships among and between what we have.
THIRD, we know that these connections are no accident. They happen when we individually or collectively act to make the connections — they don’t just happen by themselves.
We also know that these three steps, which awaken us to our abundance, not our scarcities, can often be undermined by great corporate, governmental, professional, and academic institutions. By their nature as systems, they say to us, ‘You are inadequate, incompetent, problematic, or broken. We will fix you. Go back to sleep.
It is our calling as citizens to ignore the voices that create dependency, for we are called to find our own way — not to follow their way.
“Most all of us live in a democracy, a politics that gives us the freedom to create our vision and the power to make that vision come true. We strive to be citizens — people with the vision and the power to creat our own way, a culture of community capacity, connection, and care.”
The Abundant Community by John McKnight and Peter Block (p.1)
“In a consumer society, these (basic) functions are removed from family and community and and provided by the marketplace; they are designed to be purchased. We now depend on systems to provide our basic functions. For example:
~ We expect the school, coaches, agencies, and sitters to raise our children. We deliver our children in the morning and pick them up later in the day. Same-day service, just like the laundry.
~ We expect doctors to keep us healthy. We believe in better living though chemistry. We think that youth, a flat stomach, a strong heart, even sexual desire are all purchasable.
~ We want social workers and institutions to take care of the vulnerable. Retirement homes are a growth industry marketing aging as the ‘golden years’ best spent in a resort-like environment with other old people.
“What this means is that the space that the family and community were designed to fill has been sold and is now empty.
“There is widespread recognition that the lost community has to be refound. You see the signs everywhere. Urban design focuses on community connections. Community builders and organizers exist in every city and town. Our intent is to move the conversation about community forward and remind ourselves what citizens can do to bring satisfaction into modern life.”
The Abundant Community by John McKnight and Peter Block (p.10)
From Care to Professional Services
(the disintegration of community competence)
Systems and “institutions can offer only service — not care — for care is the freely given commitment from the heart of one to another; it cannot be purchased. As neighbors, we care for each other. We care for our children. We care for our elders. We care for the most vulnerable among us. It is this care that is the basic power of a community of citizens. Care cannot be provided, managed, or purchased from systems.” (p.4)
“There are four stages in the transition from community and family competence toward professionalization and communal incompetence:
~ What was a condition of being human is converted into a problem to be solved. I no longer die of old age or natural causes; I die from a particular disease that could have been either prevented with a better lifestyle or cured by better technology.
~ Care becomes commodified, then reduced into a curriculum so that it can be categorized, taught, and then certified.
~ What is personal becomes a private converation with the professional. My troubles are now kept secret from the family or community. Knowledge of my troubles has shifted from community to professional.
~ The management mindset takes over. Providing efficient, consistent, and predictable services becomes a matter of aggregating the deficiencies of the people in the target market.” (p. 37)
“Health, safety, environment, economy, food, children, and care are the seven responsibilitieis of an abundant community and its citizens. They are the necessities that only we can fulfill. And when we fail, no institution or government can succeed. Because we (the people) are the vertiable foundation of the society.”
The Abundant Community by John McKnight and Peter Block
Consumerism is All-Encompassing
“It is not simply an economic system; in a fundamental way, it defines how we relate to our world. That is why it can be considered an ecology. It has become a cultural as well as economic system. It impacts how we relate to each other, it shapes our relationship with food, work, music, ritual, religion — all elements of culture. And for this ecological system ot work, we have to willingly participate in the effort to purchase what matters, and we must persist at it, despite the lack of results.”
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