The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Promoting Independence, Productivity, Self-Determination, Integration and Inclusion
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Professor John McKnight:
Community Building

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Looking at Connectors

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We want to start out with the third building block, and then we want to see how do we put the building blocks together to get something done. To pick something that we're interested in and then looking at our building blocks and see how the pieces go together. Because all organizing, any type, empty or full, is about connecting pieces that are not connected.

Let me close by telling you about a town like that. It's a town in northern British Columbia and it's called Prince George. It's 90,000 people and they... It's sort of the natural resource capitol, a lot of logging, mining up there. And they said "We're going to do whatever we can do to increase friendship in our town." And they mot... They had a motto. William Butler Yeats wrote a poem and in the poem he had this line: They are no strangers here; just friends we haven't met.

And the first thing they did was what you just did. They made a list of every association that they had... knew about, belonged to, were members of or were family members of. And then they made a deal with the local junior college to go and interview all of the association leaders and find out what they did and how they could be contacted and that they were welcoming of other people.

And then they put out a directory of associations, in Prince George. Do you know how many are in that directory? Two thousand four hundred. And it's incredible to see who they put together, who they connected, knowing the associations and the gifts, especially of marginal people. And they're finding people on the margins whose gifts have not been recognized, and they're connecting them to the associations in the community around those common interests and gifs, okay?

What I'm trying to share with you is most of what we need is there. There are tomatoes and peppers all around us. And this is what you've got in front of you. This isn't nice stuff; this is the real stuff. This is what makes communities that work, work. And when we don't know it and don't connect it, then we've got places that fail and children that fail because there's no village. And a village has to be there to raise a child.

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