The Connected Community-Discovering the Health, Wealth & Power
Togetherness in place; the positive alternative to separateness in a world, aimlessly hurtling through space.
On January 11th, our Publisher, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, hosted John McKnight and I, along with 157 other kindred spirits from around the world. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the essence of our new book, which hits the shelves on September 27, 2022.
For those who couldn’t make it, here are some of the key elements of the book:
Our real health, wealth and power are found together, in local places; not in rugged individualism and the consumer society. That means we, in our role as neighbors, are the critical actors and our neighborhoods are the bedrock on which an alternative future must be built. This book offers guideposts towards building that preferred future from the inside out; using what we have, to secure what we need.
John and I have been careful in The Connected Community-Discovering the Health, Wealth and Power of Neighborhoods to point out that institutions and technology play important roles in modern life. This book is not a platform for two older, privileged, white guys to shake their fists at the sky, bemoaning modernity. However, we do argue that communities have been dislocated from their central role in democracy and that getting back into the driving seat is essential to our shared planetary futures, and to better address the central issues of our time. To that end, we place institutions and technology in service of, and to, communities. Because we have learned from experience that when they work well it’s because they extend our community capacities; not harm or control them. Institutions and technology make great servants, but woeful masters.
We write this book in order to honor and feature the everyday, faithful efforts of regular people.
This book will not tell you anything you don’t already know. It will, however, remind you and your neighbors what modern consumer culture banks on us all forgetting: we have much of what we need, if we remember to refresh the ways in which we connect what we have.
This is a book that spends little time on the symptoms of separateness and only a little on the root causes. We acknowledge from the outset that technology and institutions can’t solve all our problems and move straight to the question of, “What can we uniquely do if we re-center ourselves as the key actors in our neighborhoods*; not passive consumerism?” What is the purpose of our being together in place? Surely it is more than to consume stuff in isolation from each other?
Our journey is towards what we can do together, neighbor-to-neighbor, as we re-connect and re-organize to become the primary producers of our health, wealth and loving power. This is a journey everyone can join; everyone’s gifts are needed. As well as building community power to contribute towards our preferred futures, we can strengthen our collective voice to ensure that outside actors supplement our efforts, not displace or replace them.
A secondary benefit will be more productive institutions and appropriate technology. Ensuring a reduction in burnout in the workplaces, and more energy for our homeplaces.
* By neighborhood, we mean all small, bounded, local places, including but not exclusive to: estates; your square mile, your Block, village, town, favela, parish. We also acknowledge dispersed communities, and people living off-country, and dislocated from their indigenous lands.