Friday, March 1, 2013

Beyond Therapy and Advocacy: Community Recovery

John McKnight defines our troubled condition and offers a way to reweave the fabric of community

I like much of what I read by John McKnight, one of the sources of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), an approach that has reshaped urban and suburban renewal efforts across America. Here are some more excerpts from The Careless Society, what I consider one of the top ten books to read.

"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.”

John Franklin Hay
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

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