Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Death of Community

"What this means is that the space that the family and community were designed to fill has been sold and is now empty."

Peter Block and John McKnight,The Abundant Community

Statements like this drive me crazy. Designed by whom? Sold and empty? The space? What's the evidence? How do we understand the changing roles of family and community over time in different economic and social circumstances?. Surely, they have changed, but all for the worse? No redeeming qualities? How do we grapple with and improve upon the changes that economic well-being and opportunity have afforded in many countries -- food, health care, increased labor force participation by women, less child labor, less grueling housework?

I get the point about what we have lost. But oddly, a book that is supposedly focused on "assets" spends a lot of time dwelling on "deficits" -- what is wrong with family and community, for example. And the authors spend little time on the challenges that their families and communities in action presented for real people. Not all pretty, as we know.

The asset approach is a powerful way of looking at the world and taking action for its improvement. I hope The Abundant Community doesn't become another "death of community" rant.

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