Connecting Community, Culture, & Economic Development

Connecting Community, Culture & Economic Development

The physical character of a neighborhood should reflect the culture of the community, encourage civic engagement & support economic growth. Join CBI, LISCArtsWave & Xavier University as they explore practical ways to engage the creative community in neighborhood
planning efforts.

The event will take place on Friday, December 9th and will feature a discussion with Rebecca Johnson, Executive Director of AIA Philadelphia and the Center for Architecture. In addition to her expertise on the process of developing the built environment, Rebecca draws upon her passion for improving the lives of individuals and communities through thoughtful community engagement in the design and development process. The event is $15 to attend, register here.

Communities, not countries, are best equipped to fix the world’s economic woes

Communities, not countries, are best equipped to fix the world’s economic woes-

Post first published in Quartz on November 18, 2016 by Peter Block. Peter Block is an author, consultant and citizen of Cincinnati, Ohio. His work is about empowerment, stewardship, chosen accountability, and the reconciliation of community. He currently leads the Jubilee Working Circle.

As anxieties about an economically unstable future grow globally, there is an alternative mindset much closer to home—literally just around the corner, in fact. Instead of relying on federal policy, our local communities are constructing an economy and a way of being that promises more stability and more local control.

2016’s surprise Brexit results in the UK and Trump’s election in the US are an indication that something fundamental is shifting in our economic and cultural landscape. There is waning faith that central governments—whether in Brussels or Washington and whether conservative or liberal—have the capacity to make a real difference in our lives. These votes highlight a profound distrust in some of the closely held beliefs that affect our economic and social well-being.

No matter which way people leaned in the ballots, however, voters throughout the West agree that something needs to be fixed. Instead of being outwardly focused on global forces or ceding all power to federal governments, many citizens around the world are turning their sights inward to what they can control: the cooperative economy and becoming more connected with their local communities.

This community-concentrated mindset calls for a long-term shift in our economic thinking. Modern economic beliefs have been founded on assumptions of scarcity and a near-religious belief in competition and growth. These beliefs have produced a set of betterment measurements: unemployment statistics, average income, purchasing power, and gross domestic product.

Up until now, such metrics have become traditional yardsticks for the “good life.” This economic narrative implies that happiness and prosperity can be achieved by brilliant schooling, which leads to well-paying jobs, which leads to increased purchasing power, which leads to bigger houses and more assets. And yet the good life remains out of reach for too many: Families in the US are still impacted by the mortgage crisis, new jobs are in the lower-paying service sector, student debt is high, and the average family credit-card debt is over $15,000, not counting car or home loans. And there is a solution that doesn’t rely upon federal political policy or the whims of the global economy.

The cooperative economy is a structurally alternative economy that is occurring all around us. For example, cooperative housing involves jointly owned property with common spaces for cooking and eating, common areas for children to play, and privacy areas for times you want it. In the business sector, there are an estimated 30,000+ cooperative businesses in the US producing over 850,000 jobs; Ace Hardware and REI are two of the best known.

There is also a rising non-monetized economy. TimeBanks, which currently operate in 30 US cities, record each hour of generosity among neighbors, converting that time into additional volunteer hours to be spent at will. These community-based models represent a profound shift towards an economics of mutuality. Instead of defining economics as the allocation of scarce resources, these models are based off the belief that in any given system, there is enough.

There is also an expanding movement of community-building initiatives, in which neighborliness is assigned practical value. One of the most interesting is the Abundant Community Initiative, which was started in the Highlands neighborhood of Edmonton, Canada. Working with the city government, local minister and neighborhood activist Howard Lawrence found people to act as “block connectors” for the neighborhood. The block connectors ask residents what they are good at, what they are willing to teach others, and what they would like to help make better in the neighborhood. The results of this experiment included a less isolated citizenry, more trust in the institutions of the city, and increased feelings of safety. The effort is now being replicated in fifteen additional neighborhoods in Edmonton.

Now is the moment to take the idea of a cooperative economy and community-building seriously. As David Brooks declared in a recent New York Times column titled “The Great Affluence Fallacy,” “Maybe we’re on the cusp of some great cracking. Instead of just paying lip service to community while living for autonomy, I get the sense a lot of people are actually about to make the break and immerse themselves in demanding local community movements.“

This crack could signal the beginning of an effort to reclaim the common good and reinvest in a promise we can believe in. Instead of looking outward or upward for solutions to our economic anxiety, we should be looking inward toward local and cooperative actions, plus a dose of neighborly affection.


Jubilee and the Consumer Economy – Community Forum


The Economics of Compassion Initiative will host a free Community Forum and Conversation, “Jubilee and the Consumer Economy”, on December 7, 2016 at 6:00pm with Old Testament Scholar and Theologian, Dr. Walter Brueggeman, and Author of “The Abundant Community”, Peter Block. The event will be held in the Huenefeld Tower Room at the Downtown Cincinnati Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The event will also feature community advocate, Dureka Bonds and Reverend Thomas Hargis.

In Cincinnati there is an initiative which seeks a local economy, served and measured by the well-being of all its citizens. One part of this effort is about the Old Testament idea of a Jubilee Year. Every seven years and every seven times seven years the debts are released. Historically, this includes resting the land, gleaning of the harvest and in these times forgiving the debts of the poor. The covenant begins in our personal lives and demands an in-depth reflection of our relationship with money, debt, the economy as we know it, neighborhood, community and the common good.

Dr. Walter Brueggeman will give us perspective on the inconvenient truths of what people ignore about the bible in relation to money. The Jubilee Forums will engage and explore the landscape of moral confusion and sacred obligation. It is a project of consciousness and commitment. Yet, the journey quickly expands to creating a local coalition in Cincinnati of the faith community, neighbors and neighborhood leadership, philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, independent businesses, government, corporations and social service institutions to support local economic productivity to several vulnerable neighborhoods in Cincinnati.

Please join us on December 7, 2016 by registering on the following link:

Economics of Compassion Initiative is a Cincinnati based organization, 501(c3), of thought leaders, pastoral leaders, business professionals, community leaders and advocates working to create and support a resilient economy for all citizens. Our special commitment is offer people on the margin of the current economic system more control over their lives.

Please contact the Director of Operations for the Economics of Compassion Initiative, Derek Peebles at for more information on the event and how to get involved with the Economics of Compassion Initiative. The Downtown Cincinnati Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is the venue for this event, and not a sponsor of the Initiative.