Monday, June 11, 2007


OUR PROBLEM IS WEAK COMMUNITIES. I like much of what I read by John McKnight. Here are some more excerpts from The Careless Society. "There is a mistaken notion that our society has a problem in terms of effective human services. Our essential problem is weak communities.”

A VISION OF COMMUNITY REGENERATION. “While we have reached the limits of institutional problem-solving, we are only at the beginning of exploring the possibility of a new vision for community. It is a vision of regeneration. It is a vision of reassociating the exiled. It is a vision of freeing ourselves from service and advocacy. It is a vision of centering our lives in community."

THREE VISIONS OF SOCIETY. “Our society is the site of the struggle between community and institution for the capacities and loyalties of our people. It occurs each day in the relations of people, the budget decisions of systems, and the public portraits of the media. Three visions of society dominate the discourse: a therapeutic vision, an advocacy vision, and the community vision. The first is a world of professionals and services to meet every need. The second conceives of individuals and groups guarded and supported by advocates.”

RECOMMUNALIZATION. “The community vision sees the goal of society as ‘recommunalization’ of exiled and labeled individuals. It understands the community as the basic context for enabling people to contribute their gifts. It sees community associations as contexts in which to create and locate jobs, provide opportunities for recreation and multiple friendships, and become the political defender of the right of labeled people to be free from exile.”

INCORPORATED INTO COMMUNITY. “Those who seek to institute the community vision believe that beyond therapy and advocacy is a society where those who were once labeled, exiled, treated, counseled, advised, and protected are, instead, incorporated into community where their contributions, capacities, gifts, and fallibilities will allow a network of relationships involving work, recreation, friendship, support, and the political power of being a citizen.”


  1. Anonymous11:19 AM

    I don't think you will get much disagreement that 'community' has broken down on both the micro (family, neighborhood) and macro (state, country) scale. My struggle is understanding how it happened and specific actions an individual person or state can take to remedy the situation.

  2. It IS a struggle, isn't it.

    I'd like to hear what some other readers / browsers / lurkers think about "how we got here" regarding community brokenness and the kind of segregations to which McKnight refers.

    Also, let's hear from some perspectives on "how we move forward" with specific actions by individuals, groups, or the state (Note that I say "how we move forward," not "how we get back.")

    I find it helpful to frame the situation first by distinguishing the three visions/responses to community demise that McKnight describes - therapeutic, advocacy, and community. Whatever has happened or will continue to occur via the therapeutic and advocacy visions/responses will always be there, to some extent. That's how professionals and professional "servants" make a living. I'm one of them, I suppose. But I am not satisfied with just being a professional "servant" in either therapeutic or advocating ways.

    What is compelling to me is the unexplored territory (or forgotten explorations of well-travelled territory) of a community-based vision/response to community breakdown.

    Agreeing in principle to McKnight's call for "recommunalization" is a starting point for specific individual and state action, it seems to me. It doesn't take a lot of people to see that and agree to it--just a handful together, seeing together, addressing a community together...


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