Conversation and Community

David Isaacs sent me this quote from Peter Block:

My belief is that the way we create conversations that overcome the fragmented nature
of our communities is what creates an alternative future.

This can be a difficult stance to take for we have a deeply held belief that the way to make a difference in the world is to define problems and needs and then recommend actions to solve those needs.

We are all problem solvers, action oriented and results minded. It is illegal in this culture to leave a meeting without a to-do list.

We want measurable outcomes and we want them now.

What is hard to grasp is that it is this very mindset which prevents anything fundamental from changing.

We cannot problem solve our way into fundamental change, or transformation.

This is not an argument against problem solving; it is an intention to shift the context and language within which problem solving takes place.

Authentic transformation is about a shift in context and a shift in language and conversation. It is about changing our idea of what constitutes action.

~ Peter Block from his Civic Engagement Series, sponsored by A Small Group.


  1. that is so cool! I want to create something like that for our town council..need to find the courage, the right approach and this helped! Thanks for sharing.


  2. Block is absolutely right. The way we talk about things greatly influences what we do and what we imagine is possible. I’m a mythologist and I think about this in terms of story –until we take the time to understand the story that we’re telling (beginning with the fact that we are telling one and not “just” passing around “facts”), we won’t understand our values and vision and arrive at sustaining models and ideas. Thank you World cafe for providing a model and forum for that type of conversation.

  3. I feel quite tender and anticipating connection with this online community. I’ve heard-and seems true to me-that we cannot create solutions to the problems we face at the same level(in the same mode) that we have created the problems. I look with delight at this opportunity to create community in a new (ancient) way to explore the possibilities of co-creating our futures!

  4. Creo que tenemos que ir, en nuestras conversaciones más allá de las recomendaciones. El hacer preguntas, el darnos cuenta y amor son elementos poderosos para la transformación personal y colectiva.

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