Common Good


This Reader is an expression of Common Good, a vision for an alternative way, rooted in the act of remembering anew, 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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Conspire Gathering

People daring to reimagine what is possible in our neighborhoods and faith communities will converge on October 12 & 13 in Cincinnati. If you’re in or near Cincinnati, or merely needing an excuse to visit, check out

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Make the Gifts Visible

When we and the other neighbors know of each other’s gifts, new community possibilities emerge. For example, the community can play an important role in rearing children and helping them to learn about their own abilities and what it means to be a contributing member of society. We can do the following:  Have young people teach the Internet to seniors and adults.  Hold gatherings where youth learn about music, painting, poetry, storytelling, and dance from artistic neighbors.  Create a tutor list so that young people can learn what the neighbors know. Make an inventory of each neighbor’s job, and then connect our teens to people with interesting jobs so that they can learn what the neighbors do and how to prepare for a vocation.  Have a children’s clothes exchange.  Have rewards for older children tutoring younger children.  Have monthly potluck dinners where we sing together and urge our children.

As we read earlier this week, “The culture of community is initiated by people who value each other’s gifts and are seriously related to each other.”  Take a look at the gifts in your community. How do they connect? Can you see the link between what a young person wants and has to offer, and what an elder has to offer and wants? Could you be a matchmaker, connecting relationships at the place of gifts, and offering to help the match to be shared with the wider group, be it your block, or your office floor, or school group. You can make gifts visible through storytelling, reporting, even through social media posts and photos. But you can also make them visible in a one-on-one personal introduction.

Is there one person you could ask this week, “knowing what I know about your gifts, could I introduce you to so-and-so? I’d love to see what you two have to learn from one another!”



McKnight, John. The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods (pp. 120-121). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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This is Home Made

Every community creates its own culture—the way the community members learn, through time, how to survive and prosper in a particular place. Displaced people lose their culture. But it is also possible to lose a community culture even though you stay in a place. Many of us have lost our culture, even though we live in a neighborhood, occupy an apartment, see others from a distance.  

The question is how to create another way of life, so that we could say, “In this place, we have a strong culture where kin, friends, and neighbors surround us. We are a group of families who have a special kind of relationship. Together we raise our children, manage health, feel productive, and care for those on the margin.”

The culture of community is initiated by people who value each other’s gifts and are seriously related to each other. It takes time, because serious relationships are based upon trust, and trust grows from the experience of being together in ways that make a difference in our lives.

As you read the above quote, is there an example that comes to mind of where you or your community has lost culture? What is the special kind of relationship that you and your neighbors and friends share? How are you building a culture together?

In these summer months, consider how you might invite a few colleagues or neighbors into a shared evening experience. Maybe it’s a game night, a cocktail night, a pie eating party, a music jam, a potluck, or kickball game. Avoid the temptation to make it one more activity in a busy week—instead leave space so that it is more “home spun” made by those who share it.



McKnight, John. The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods (p. 117). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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