“We believe that strong local communities are the foundation – the tap roots – of a healthy participatory and resilient society. Rather than looking to national governments and corporations or hoping for new technologies to solve our environmental and social problems, we should look to strong communities to learn how to make a difference in finding paths to a more healthy and sustainable future.”
This quote is from the Introduction to the new book Building Community – Twelve Principles for a Healthy Future by Dr. James Gruber, current Professor and director of PhD program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England. The book is structured around 12 principles derived from the study of successful community efforts around the world and the author’s 30 plus years of direct experience working with a wide variety of communities.
The book is the result of the collaborative work and wisdom of 12 additional Antiochians of all kinds: current and former faculty and staff, alumni, and current graduate students. Many of the 25 case studies illustrate the exceptional work being done by Antioch community ranging from wetland conservation in Ecuador to place-based education of inner-city youth in Boston, and from citizen-driven climate change actions in Keene, NH to empowering disadvantaged girls in India.
The case study authors examine how communities were able to approach, assess, and respond to environmental challenges, social justice issues, and sustaining livelihoods by utilizing one or more of the 12 principles. With the goal of building local leadership capacity, the principles describe practical specific approaches to successful change. While focusing on environmental health, the case studies also consider issues of sharing resources, inclusive approaches to regional planning, and empowering women and disadvantaged groups to shape their own futures.
Building Community has already received wide recognition for its timeliness and importance. Ronald Heifetz, MD and founder of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School calls it: “…crucial reading for all who feel compelled to lead, not because they have authority, but simply because they care deeply about their community and world.”
Ambassador Adrian A. Basora, Retired USFS agreed, adding:
“In this time of deep concern about the state of democracy both in the US and around the world, Building Community provides invaluable lessons on how to rebuild the foundations of democracy from the ground up. It is required reading for those seeking to make a lasting difference at the local level, while at the same time strengthening the building blocks of their democracy.”
Even James H. Craiglow, President Emeritus of AUNE has weighed in on this book:
“James Gruber…presents rich “case study” examples of successful community initiatives and projects that have made positive impacts nationally and internationally, countering the obstacles that lead to continued apathy and despair. Gruber provides guiding principles for essential leadership and building citizen engagement. More importantly, he provides a powerful antidote to withdrawal and isolation, while giving a gift of inspiration and hope.”
With practical information and inspiring examples, this book is a vital addition to the bookshelf of any elected leader, city planner, concerned citizen, or student of environmental studies, resource conservation, sustainable development, or public administration.
Building Community – Twelve Principles for a Healthy Future will be available in April 2020 from New Society Publishers and bookstores.