New Scoop Members Working Pot Luck

Special Guest: Peter Block, Community: The Structure Of Belonging

It was a good night, all the food groups were covered in the potluck and in the conversation.  There was the delicious randomness of potlucks — vegetarian loaf, bruschetta, fresh bread, brie, samosas, salad, pecan pie, mini cream puffs and more . . . In the conversation there was connection, inspiration, in depth discussion of next steps and, as all the best meals and meetings include, a large serving of gratitude.

New Scoop YYC is a multi stakeholder co-op.  The meeting began with introductions from all the members present.

Worker members:  JC Lanciault, Carolina Pelaez, Nicole Chan, Simone Lee, Sarah Arthurs.
Organizational members: Kathryn Cormier from Vibrant Communities Calgary
Individual members:  Greg O Neill, Phil Cox, Mike Simone, Gael MacLeod, Mark Durieux.

Inspiration came from Peter Block, a member from Cincinnati, Ohio, who is embedded and engaged as a citizen in his community.  In the course of our Skyped conversation he referenced hosting a community meeting after there was a shooting in his neighbourhood, asking three questions:

1. When did you start caring about this neighbourhood and why does the neighbourhood matter to you?

2. What crossroads are you at concerning your commitment to the neighbourhood?

3. As a citizen, what is your contribution to some of the struggles facing the neighbourhood?  What are you doing or not doing that is supporting the status quo?

News generates fear, the more fear, the easier it is to control the masses.
We need to reconstruct what we consider newsworthy.
Need faith, not hope or optimism.
We get to pick what is news. It is not Pollyanna …it’s about what is being produced or imagined.
— Peter Block

This gathering of 120 people resulted in small actions in community strengthening.  One person got a drug dealer out of her basement. People dropped off flyers throughout the neighbourhood and got to know their neighbours. The anecdote was shared to demonstrate a different understanding of news.  Mainstream news might cover a shooting by going to the extremes in the conversation; the anti and pro gun lobby groups and their static, polarized positions. Generative journalism pays attention to how citizens are taking shared responsibility for moving their community towards being more safe, inclusive and connected.


New Scoop is a Calgary-based news co-operative publishing Generative Journalism. This article was originally posted on the New Scoop website, and images and excerpts from the text appear here with permission.

About the Lead Author

Sarah Arthurs
Sarah Arthurs
Sarah Arthurs worked as a therapist, college instructor, parent educator, community developer, generative journalist, and pastor, and she is taking all she knows about community and entrepreneurship to create new co-housing neighborhoods. She and her family have lived at Prairie Sky Co-housing Co-operative in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, since 2008. In explaining the concept behind co-housing communities, she points to a description from the Prairie Sky website: "Some people call them a return to the best of small-town communities. Others say they are like a traditional village or the close-knit neighbourhood where they grew up, while futurists call them an altogether new response to social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century. Each holds a piece of the truth. Co-housing is a concept that came to North America in 1988 [and] describes neighbourhoods that combine the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of shared resources and community living.” To learn more about Sarah's work with co-housing check out her website Cohousing Connections. Sarah is bringing together developers and homeowners who are excited about the co-housing lifestyle to create new co-housing neighborhoods. She is working on projects across Alberta and is available to work on projects in Canada. In observing an evolving co-housing niche augmenting the use of church properties or repurposing those properties when they need to be sold, she says, “There is a wonderful alignment of values between cohousing and faith traditions which have in common the commitment to ‘Love your neighbor.’” She has a B.A. in Theology, a Masters in Educational Psychology and is a Registered Psychologist. She has worked as a therapist, college instructor, parent educator, community developer and pastor. During 2012, the UN declared International Year of Co-operatives, Sarah was the Alberta Coordinator for the International Year of Co-operatives with the Alberta Community and Cooperative Association.

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