Common Good Collective


This Reader is an expression of Common Good Collective, a vision for an alternative way, rooted in the act of eliminating economic isolation, the significance of place, and the structure of belonging. Whether you come at this from a place of economics, social good, or faith, we hope these reflections help orient your day in fresh, provocative, courageous ways. And most importantly, we hope these lead you into the sharing of gifts in particular communities—into co-creating a common good.

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The Space to Thrive

Thriving requires space. There is space as in land – physical space in which to create the social architecture communities need to flourish. And there is space as in distance. That kind of space promotes reflection, self-critical thinking, changes of patterns and behaviors. Khalil Gibran refers to this as “a space in our togetherness.” Both sorts of spaces are necessary for people to thrive.

At Common Good Collective, we want to create the space for better conversations, the kinds that open up space, or that re-orient us to the spaces we occupy. We are trying out a new way of doing that this week. Two weeks ago, we published a post-election reflection by CGC contributor Greg Jarrell. This week, we have three short written responses from other contributors. We invite you to send your thoughts by email or social media as well.

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The Commons Exists Off-Screen, Reflections from Peter Block and Charles Holmes

Peter Block and Charles Holmes have long been calling people into conversations that matter. With his characteristic directness and poignancy, Peter reminds us that we’ve been building for distance for years, at the expense of building for community.


The Common Good Reader makes the point that creating community consciousness is the work, now that election mania has peaked.

The call is to not let us be defined by a media industry and world that makes its wealth from attention. What grabs attention is the illusion that we are a nation divided, that the vote is a measure of citizen engagement, that the contest between rich and poor is among irreconcilable strangers, that celebrities are interesting.

I am not a nation divided. Read more

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America Is Not Ready To Heal, Reflections from Courtney Napier

CGC Contributor Courtney Napier offers a personal story about a scary message from a doctor, and the path of healing that followed. Healing comes only when the cancer is gone, she writes. You can’t keep the pathogens in, and get good health out.


The waiting room of a pediatric cardiologist’s office is a curious place when you’re twenty-five. Bursting with color, there were smiling, cartoonish renderings of giraffes, lions, and monkeys painted on the yellow walls. Disney shows played on the TV mounted in the corner of the room. Large wooden mazes and puzzles entertained children sitting in little turquoise chairs. Their parents passed the time on their cell phones in height-appropriate cushioned chairs. I felt like a giant, and I was a touch embarrassed. But all those feelings were meaningless when I sat in the exam room awaiting the results of my echocardiogram.

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Private Sufficiency, Public Luxury

Thriving requires space. But most of our public imagination indicates that the way we think about land as privately owned space is natural. It is not, and that idea has colonized the world, and has colonized our imaginations. This lecture offers some history and some steps forward for re-imaging our relationship with space.

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The Gentle Messenger Illuminates The Future

History is the gentle messenger that answers the questions “How did we get here?” and “What comes next?” All of us were born with a story, and part of our journey towards the common good is exposing that birth story to the illuminating quality of maturation. In our selections for this week’s reader, activists, economists, poets, and environmentalists interrogate the stories we have been told about land use, the Black woman’s “place”, American history, and messages surrounding American government and economy, and exposes them to the light.

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