May 30, 2018 Common Good

How have I contributed to creating the current reality?

The ownership conversation asks citizens to act as if they were creating what exists in the world. Confession is the religious and judicial version of ownership. The distinction is between ownership and blame. The questions for ownership are: “How valuable do you plan for this gathering to be, how have we each contributed to the current situation, and what is the story you hold about this community and your place in it?” It is important for people to see the limitation of their story, for each story has a payoff and a cost. Naming these is a precondition to creating an alternative future.

Community will be created the moment we decide to act as creators of what it can become. This is the stance of ownership, which is available to us every moment on every issue, even world peace, the overdependence on fossil fuel consumption, and the fact that our teenagers are slightly self-centered.

This requires us to believe in the possibility that this organization, this neighborhood, this community is mine or ours to create. This will occur when we are willing to answer the essential question, “How have I contributed to creating the current reality?” Confusion, blame, and waiting for someone else to change are defenses against ownership and personal power. This core question, when answered, is central to how the community is transformed.

Begin with yourself. What have I contributed to creating this current reality? If your answer sounds like confusion, blame, or waiting on someone else then you are in good company.But, to call forth transformation is to realize this and to take responsibility.

This would be a good time to check your motivations for convening others. If you believe you are recruiting people to a solution you’ve already arrived upon, then you are not yet vulnerably ready to ask the questions of the group.

We move from stanger to neighbor by admitting our participation in the current reality with a statement of ownership.



Block, Peter. Community: The Structure of Belonging(p. 123, 128). Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

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