Gifts, Skills, Interests and Passions: The Glue That Holds Communities Together

Most of us belong to lots of different kinds of clubs, groups and associations.  Each is held together by a common gift, skill, interest or passion.  Choirs are associations that magnify the gifts of people who sing well.  Basketball teams collect people together with sports skills.  The American Legion joins together people with a common war experience.

Whatever the group, the “glue” that holds it together is whatever the members have in common — something important enough to lead them to join and actively participate.

When we consider your block or neighborhood, if it is organized it is because something in common leads people to want to come together. Where blocks are not organized, it is because neighbors don’t know what they share or have in common.  Just living on the same block is not enough to pull many people out of their homes to join with neighbors except for an annual block party.  One step up is the block club created to deal with crime, safety and security.  But that is a community drawn together by fear — creating a fortress mentality.

There are some neighborhoods, however, drawn together because they have discovered the gifts, skills, interests and passions of their fellow residents.  This knowledge is the catalyst for all kinds of new relationships.  The connections may be between two neighbors who discover a mutual interest in jazz.  Or it may be several neighbors with an interest in gardening. Or it may be all the neighbors who discover their common interest in being a village that raises a child.

Whenever a neighborhood comes together in powerful and satisfying ways, it is because two things have happened.  First, they have found out about each other’s gifts.  Second, they have made new connections based on these gifts.  It is the sum of these connections that “glues” a neighborhood together.

Let us know if you live in a neighborhood where neighbors have made some useful connections. Send us your story.  Or, share a connection story from another neighborhood. Contact us anytime to tell your story.

~ John ~

About the Lead Author

John McKnight
John McKnight
John McKnight is emeritus professor of education and social policy and codirector of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at DePaul University. He is the coauthor of Building Communities from the Inside Out and the author of The Careless Society. He has been a community organizer and serves on the boards of several national organizations that support neighborhood development.

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