Community conversations happen all the time in various venues, but local government managers cannot take them for granted. When community engagement is waning, it is important to think about ways to bring people together.
Tom Fountaine, municipal manager in State College, Pennsylvania, knows something about the challenges of community engagement. We discovered we share an appreciation for Peter Block who wrote the book Community, the Structure of Belonging.
I invited him on to PCC Local Time to talk about the six conversations that Peter Block outlines for community conversation: these include invitation, possibility, ownership, dissent, commitment and gifts.
What was it about Peter Block’s methodology of asking questions that caught our attention and remained with us over the years? We cover quite a bit of ground. Tom is forthcoming not only with the work that has evolved from Peter Block’s ideas, but also his weaknesses when it comes to implementing some of Block’s ideas.
Perhaps it is the challenge that makes this work so compelling. If it was easy, we would not take the time to uncover what it means to engage community, both inside our organizations and in the surrounding communities with whom we partner and serve.