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Participants describe Peter Block Workshop as inspirational, transformational and superb

Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 9:00am - 4:00pm

Everyone Belongs:

learning to lead authentic conversations that transform communities and include everyone

Approximately 250 people attended BCACL’s community living month celebration with Peter Block on October 6, 2011 in Vancouver. Groups discussed Peter's theories about ownership, commitment vs. barter, possibilities and gifts vs deficiencies.

In addition to hearing Peter speak about defining leadership as listening, convening, invitation and the triumph of questions over answers, participants were blessed with the gift of drumming, dancing and singing by performers from two BC Aboriginal Nations: Spakwus Slolem “The Eagle Song” group from the Squamish Nation and the Tsatsu Stalqayu (Coastal Wolf Pack) dancers from the Coast Salish and lower mainland communities of BC. To end the day, the Universal Gospel choir performed a few songs acappella, sending people away with a sense of community on a holistic level.

Comments from attendees of the October 6 workshop in Vancouver:

"Peter Block’s October workshop entitled, “Everyone Belongs” was a deeply inspiration day, filled with seeds of insight and anecdotes that anyone can use to improve communication in personal, workplace, and community situations." read more... - Zamina Sunderji, Research and Marketing Assistant.

“I went into our workshop with Peter Block knowing it would be an important event. Part of our goal was to invite diverse organizations and people to share the day – not just those of us in community living. What happened was transformative at so many levels. I realized that community is where I learn to be who I am and that it begins with my willingness to share myself with honesty and generosity. Peter’s ability to facilitate an organic process and create intimacy with a group of 250 people was nothing short of brilliant.” - Faith Bodnar, Executive Director, BC Association for Community Living

"It was an interesting and enlightening workshop filled with abstract ideas and practical suggestions that will be helpful to me in the future." - Caron Graham, Parent.

“Just wanted to thank you for allowing (me) to take part in this inspiring, thought-provoking day!” Rachelle Czerwinski , Family Support

“Attending the event was one of the best things I have done. The day was superb-no exaggeration. Thank you for making it truly transformational for me.”

“It (Peter Block’s presentation) was so applicable to our community setting and we are excited to implement some of the things we learned.” Atangard Community Project

“I was influenced by a very great workshop I attended yesterday with Peter Block in Vancouver. The learning from the day requires us to 'shift the narrative' of how we understand our world. He asks us to be conscious of the 'empire' or consumerism (autonomy and individualism a feature of empire) and how that effects the language we use in community organizing and development...

    He really sold me on this idea of the 'illusion of leadership' – that it’s about convening capacity. So rather than speak about leadership, expertise, programming, systems and services and likemindness – this is part of the consumerism belief system that sets us apart and/or as if there is some hierarchy and competitiveness, i.e. we have more than others. Rather ask people questions knowing that they are the owners." - Doris Rajan, Canadian Association for Community Living.

"I have always wanted to be in the room and be part of the movement of Peter Block, and as I expected I would be moved. “Identity is not my homelessness”, this one really touched my heart, as I was quite lost when I got near the area of the event so I stopped and chatted with a ‘homeless’ person and he gave me great directions and shared that he had been a longshoreman and he therefore knew exactly where the building was that I was looking for.

His sincerity and deeply anchored caring radiate from his capacity to invite ‘transformation’. Several of the phrases that I connected with and will include in my conversations , are, “ What I don’t need is more services’, ‘I need a circle of support”, “What is important for you now”. - Donalda Madsen, Family Support Worker




About Peter Block

Peter Block is an author, consultant and citizen of Cincinnati, Ohio. His work is about chosen accountability, and the reconciliation of community.

Peter is the author of several best selling books. The most widely known being Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used (1st edition 1980, 3rd edition 2011); Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest (1993) and The Empowered Manager: Positive Political Skills at Work (1987). Peter is the recipient of the Organization Development Network’s 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004 he received their first place Members’ Choice Award, which recognized Flawless Consulting as the most influential book for OD practitioners over the past 40 years.

Community: The Structure of Belonging (Berrett Koehler) came out in 2008. He has also authored. The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters which won the 2002 Independent Publisher Book Award for Business Breakthrough Book of the Year. Freedom and Accountability at Work: Applying Philosophic Insight to the Real World, was co-authored with consultant and philosopher Peter Koestenbaum (Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2001).

The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods, co-authored with John McKnight, was published by Berrett Koehler in spring 2010.

The books are about ways to create workplaces and communities that work for all. They offer an alternative to the patriarchal beliefs that dominate our culture. His work is to bring change into the world through consent and connectedness rather than through mandate and force.

He is a partner in Designed Learning, a training company that offers workshops designed by Peter to build the skills outlined in his books.

Peter serves on the Boards of Directors of Cincinnati Classical Public Radio; Elementz, a Hip Hop center for urban youth; and LivePerson, a provider of online engagement solutions. He is on the Advisory Board for the Festival in the Workplace Institute, Bahamas. He is the first Distinguished Consultant-in-Residence at Xavier University. With other volunteers in Cincinnati, Peter began A Small Group, whose work is to create a new community narrative and to bring his work on civic engagement into being.

He has received national awards for outstanding contributions in the field of training and development, including the American Society for Training and Development Award for Distinguished Contributions; the Association for Quality and Participation President’s Award; and Training Magazine HRD Hall of Fame.

Peter’s office is in Mystic, Connecticut. You can visit his websites at www.peterblock.com, www.abundantcommunity.com, www.designedlearning.com, and www.asmallgroup.net. He welcomes being contacted at pbi@att.net.


Gift Minded Conversations

By Zamina Sunderji, Research and Marketing Assistant.

Peter Block’s October workshop entitled, “Everyone Belongs” was a deeply inspiration day, filled with seeds of insight and anecdotes that anyone can use to improve communication in personal, workplace, and community situations. Block discussed, “Gift-mindedness”, the importance of understanding the gifts that we bring, and how we can use these to keep us feeling engaged and motivated. He also stressed the negativity associated with applying labels to marginality and how these labels do not define who we are. For example, “Meet Jack, he is homeless” is not a statement that defines who Jack is, because Jack is not inherently homeless. Rather, we should be expressing the gifts that individuals bring as opposed to stressing what they cannot bring. Doing so does not benefit anyone involved and lessens the drive to better oneself and the world around us.

Block emphasizes the importance of conversation, and stated that, “all transformation is linguistic”. We must engage in heartfelt, present oriented conversations that do not strive for process but rather begin the thought process of the change we would like to see. Process-oriented thinking enables feedback and appraisal of progress and these do not promote progress in the long run. Block says, who are we to provide feedback and appraisals? Although, individuals in leadership positions have been given a responsibility, it is not to judge others based on what they have not been able to do. This neglects the gifts that those around us bring and will not motivate anyone to strive for betterment. Rather, those in leadership bare the burden of responsibility by conveying capacity and starting meaningful conversations. This is the only way in which to achieve success.

The most important conversation is the one of possibility, not of process. Focus should be on interconnectedness, capacity, and genuine desires, rather than clear and measurable objectives. While these may seem beneficial on the surface, they subject those involved to degradation in the form of feedback and appraisal. Peter Block believes, that statements affirming the world we are committed to creating are the only way to successfully progress; by declaring, we are acting, and moving towards the change we want to see. Be the change…!


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