Engaging Community, Narrating Change
Thursday, April 4, 7–9 p.m. (at St. Pius X Catholic Church)
Friday, April 5, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m. (at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center)

Spirituality - 2013 Dates_TitleThe work of “building community” is a complex and life-long journey; relationship resides at its core. This work is challenged by our culture. Though individuals are very connected technologically, many experience enormous isolation.

We have developed a dependence on systems and institutions to solve problems and meet needs, rather than engaging ourselves collaboratively with others. Currently, conversations about challenges in our neighborhood, workplace, church, city, state or country often start from what we do not have, what we lack, what we need. Such conversations have limited power to create lasting change.

Come, experience a conversation that will offer and inspire new possibilities! A new worldwide movement is emerging, made up of people with fresh vision. Leaders, as understood within this new movement, call forth a capacity to connect people with people in the service of something greater than themselves, and with an overall goal to transform what currently exists. They sense a calling. They are called. And together they invite us and one another to embody a culture of care that emerges by engaging conversations that can lead to an alternative future.

Sustainable, abundant community conversations shift the context from retribution to restoration; from problems to possibility; from fear and fault to gifts, generosity and abundance; from law and oversight to choice and accountability; from corporation and systems to relational life! Experience how together we can co-create sustainable environments, welcoming and tapping the gifts of all.

Through Spirituality in the 21st Century: Engaging Community, Narrating Change we will challenge and inspire people to change each and every conversation they have. We will weave new insights into community to awaken a new vision of what our families, workplaces, neighborhoods, faith communities and cities can be. Participants will experience these new conversations in real time and begin to understand how, as leaders, engaging everyone can help to transform community.

What will participants do?
The wonderful connections and collaborations established among people attending this event will linger long after and lead us each to something greater than any one of us can imagine. Participants will learn to:
•   invite and convene conversations so that others commit to the success of community
•   help others and ourselves declare new possibilities with the faith that we can live out our personal intentions and also serve the community
•   create ownership by moving the conversations from complaining and waiting for others to change to ones in which we realize we have helped create the very place we thought was owned and operated by others
•   focus on strengths, assets and capacity rather than problem-solving or deficiencies
•   hold a stance wholeheartedly while accepting the diverse stances of others

Why might this appeal to you?
This conference will appeal to anyone interested in creating more powerful partnerships with people around them. It is for individuals and organizations who are:
•   committed to helping neighborhoods grow
•   seeking pathways that promote connections and engagement
•   eager for new perspectives and approaches to advance communities
•   looking for ways to get started, gain momentum or renew
This conference is about caring for the whole, where the whole may be a community or family, government or education, nonprofit or for profit, church or volunteer association, or anything in between.

Who are the presenters?
This conference will feature internationally known speakers Walter Brueggemann, John McKnight and Peter Block—thought leaders from very different disciplines who have spent their lives illuminating a pathway toward creating a different future that emerges out of community, neighborliness and vision for the common good. Music will be provided by Barbara McAfee.

Peter Block is a consultant and citizen of Cincinnati, Ohio. His recent book, Community: The Structure of Belonging, and his work emphasize empowerment, stewardship, chosen accountability and the reconciliation of community. Peter offers a methodology for shifting conversations from one of problems to one of possibilities.

John McKnight, emeritus professor of education and social policy and co-director of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University, has been a community organizer and serves on the boards of several national organizations that support neighborhood development. John offers practical wisdom and experience building communities from the inside out using local resources, capacities and relationship. Long-time colleagues and friends, Peter and John have walked numerous neighborhoods and communities to co-author The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods in 2010. 

Peter and John recently have become scholars of the work of Walter Brueggemann, a renowned Old Testament scholar and an important figure in Progressive Christianity, who most recently authored Journey to the Common Good. Through his passionate exploration of the Old Testament, he inspires a deeper understanding and commitment to neighborliness.

Barbara McAfee is a singer/songwriter, keynoter, author and voice coach who merges lessons from 12 years in organizational development with the transformative power of music. “She brings a quality to thinking and speaking that is fresh and accessible,” says Peter Block. “Few others have so integrated organizational insight and profound speech. Barbara gives great care to all she does.”

What resources are available?
If you are interested in more information about the presenters and theories behind the conference, more information is available:
•   Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2008).
•   John McKnight and Peter Block, The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2010).
•   “Abundant Community” website, http://www.abundantcommunity.com.

Tickets cost $65 for both days if purchased by March 15 (or $75 after March 15). To register, download the registration form below or contact Prairiewoods at 319-395-6700 or www.Prairiewoods.org.