Peter Block

I recently mentioned a book I was reading called, "Community: The Structure of Belonging" by Peter Block. The book offered a fresh perspective on issues like change management, community organizing, and introduced a new way of thinking about the roles of facilitation and consultation. When I read that he was coming to Philadelphia, I was eager to share it with our Director and classmates, who had also been reading his books. Luckily, they were just as excited and most of our Department and our Director were able to attend the workshop, which took place on the 7th. Peter Block Wkshp

I just wanted to share a couple of the notes I took throughout the day...

Although I enjoyed the entire day, in particular,  I really appreciated how succinct and powerful his messages were when he was explaining his work. A couple quotes I like are:

“All transformation is linguistic.”

"The current narrative is 'there is not enough,' and 'something is wrong with us.' what is the counter-narrative?"

“Methodology of transformation is art.” (Following each break there was some form of  artistic performance in the areas of: music, art, dance, and poetry)

“The community has a job—to heal.”

“Circle is the means for transformation.”

"Small groups of three—trios are best because there is no place to hid, it is inherently unstable, and 'open'."

"The challenge is to get un-like minded people in the room together—but that is most effective when trying to change things."

"Don’t give advice or try to help, or say: 'I know what is best for you.' Rather ask questions like: 'what are you good at?' and 'what do you like to do?'”

"Questions bring us together, answers drive us apart."

Block's promise to us for the day was that he would be spending just as much, if not more time, having us experience what he was talking about. This meant that after about 10-15 min of him talking we would from small groups of three, making sure to sit with people we knew the least. We did this for five key questions (which are listed below). For each small group, we each had to take turns asking each other the questions. The protocols set-up were: 8-10 mins per small group, knees must be about 9 inches from your other two group members, and we did not have to report out, but rather volunteer to say "what struck us."

The questions get "harder" as they progress down the list, with "dissent" being very difficult to discuss:

Purpose: Why was it important for you to be here today? and Why does that matter?

Possibility: What is the crossroads you are at this stage of your life? and Why does this matter? What is at stake for you?

Gifts: Tell the others in your trio “Here is what you gave me (that meant something).” and answer with ONLY “Thank you, I like hearing that.”

Commitment: What commitment are you?

Dissent: What doubts do you have about what we are doing? What is the “no” you have been postponing? What is the “yes” you no longer mean” What is the forgiveness you aren’t willing to offer? What is the resentment you know that no one else knows?

It was a great, insightful day, and I highly recommend checking out his books and website here!