Book Review: The Connected Community: Discovering Health, Wealth, and Neighborhood Power by Cormac Russell and John McKnight | Job Binary


Cormac Russell and John McKnight believe in the power of communities to create shared prosperity and their new book The Connected Community: Unlocking the Health, Wealth, and Power of Neighbors, a vivid vision of how to make it happen. But these principles can be applied to any small group, including the teams that form the foundation of many businesses today.

Both authors are experts in community development as well as organizational dynamics – the common asset is people. Russell is a long-time practitioner of asset-based community development (ABCD) with experience in 36 countries. He worked with the founder, McKnight Institute for Asset-Based Community Development and community development forecaster for this book.

A central tenet of The Connected Community is that outsourcing problem solving to larger, external institutions is a mistake. This approach has unfortunately become the norm in the modern age: the concept of small group cohesion is too often dwarfed by the idea of ​​larger government or institutions, but they are too far removed from real needs and goals. They write: “The narrative that big, top-down institutions are our best hope is half-baked. That story was written on a bill that bounced over and over again. It’s an event that has run its course and thus turned us and our planet into a brick wall.”

As Russell and McKnight put it, our communities have incredible social capital, and it’s around “kitchen tables and local waterfronts” where real change happens. Once people discover each other’s skills and gifts and ally together, they can achieve common goals around health, wealth, security, and sovereignty.

Connected Community: Discovering Health, Wealth and Neighborhood Power by Cormac Russell and John McKnight

The question is how to harness this enormous resource—and the strategies here offer great lessons for any organization, but just a neighborhood. The authors present a proven effective approach that brings together differences and similarities—enabling collaboration that draws out the best of what everyone has to offer. They remind us that all those small communities, groups, and organizations form a vital engine that drives the greater good.

They offer many inspiring examples of how this community connection works: cities creating space to grow food, sharing resources, creating a virtual network of support and help during lockdown, welcoming newcomers and improving local economies by supporting local businesses and initiatives. . They show how a seemingly niche mission can have far-reaching benefits—it’s just a matter of opening our eyes, connecting, and taking action. Of course, there’s a lesson here for every team, no matter what they do.

Given the enormous social, health, climate and economic pressures the planet is already facing, now is the time to come together, the authors write. The road isn’t easy, they admit, and provide effective strategies for bouncing back, dealing with friction, staying on course, and building momentum—and again, it’s powerful wisdom with universal appeal. As people gain a voice, they are empowered to directly influence their own well-being. The book gives readers confidence in the power and possibilities of the “village” and each other. When we put our heads together, we really can make a difference. As the authors write, whoever and wherever we are, the future depends on us.

The Connected Community: Unlocking the Health, Wealth, and Power of Neighbors Cormac Russell and John McKnight (Berrett-Koehler, September 27, 2022).


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