Peter Block was born in Chicago and spent most of his early years in the Midwest. After college, he went to New Jersey and was involved in the early days of creating the field of organization development. This entailed some years at Exxon Research and Engineering Company and then the formation of a consulting firm with Tony Petrella. Marvin Weisbord joined in 1971, and the firm did pretty well until, Block says, “we all got into our sixties and either retired or moved in other directions.”
In 1980, Block started Designed Learning, a training company that offers workshops based on the ideas in his books. It still thrives and works to help staff people in organizations to have more influence and impact.
In 1995, Block got involved with city government and city managers through conferences held by the Innovations Group based in Florida. This led to his interest in building community, which has been his obsession ever since. Block met McKnight at a community conference convened by Police Chief Mike Butler in Longmont, Colorado. This is where their common view of the world became obvious to both of them, which eventually culminated in writing this book.
Block has written seven other books, including Flawless Consulting, The Empowered Manager, Stewardship, Freedom and Accountability (with Peter Koestenbaum), The Answer to How Is Yes, and Community: The Structure of Belonging.
The community work is now centered in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Block has been a citizen since 1998. He is engaged in developing a civic engagement network called A Small Group, plus a series of other projects working on building the capacity of this urban community to value its gifts and see its own possibility.