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  • Bruce Baker

Building Competent Communities

In their book “The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods” John McKnight and Peter Block emphasize competent communities that are rich in connections between people, gifts shared through those connections, and hospitality to strangers outside those connections.

CHEER’s primary goal is to build competent communities in Takoma Park and Long Branch. In competent communities people help each other get through difficult times and celebrate each other’s happiness and success. This is what all communities have been doing from the beginning. Care and empathy are hard wired human instincts that we utilize when we have a sense of abundance. It competes with the fight or flight instinct that we feel when we are scared and sense scarcity. A competent community creates abundance that undermines fear and the need to fight.

We envision competent communities in Takoma Park and Long Branch where

  • Everyone is connected to a network of mutual care and support.

  • Every child is cared for and has what they need to learn, grow, and succeed in life.

  • Everyone has a secure and comfortable space that they can call home.

  • People share hospitality, food, companionship and invest time and interest in each other.

  • Everyone has the security of knowing that they will have the care and support they need when they need it.

People thrive in competent communities.

Community competence is often challenged and undermined by economic and political institutions that operate in their own interests and unknowingly and unintentionally tear apart the fabric of community. A competent community must consciously define its own destiny, and not be subject to economic or political forces that would undermine and destroy its networks of support. Instead it must be adaptive to circumstances that challenge people’s health and well being. It must protect the personal connections that people need for their own security and the natural resources and other assets upon which it is dependent.

We invite everyone in Takoma Park and Long Branch to participate in creating a competent community. Get involved in the community, volunteer, and make friends with your neighbors. Join in the Takoma Park Community Conversation on Youth on June 18 or volunteer with CHEER. Contact us at CHEER ( or at 301-589-3633) to find out about volunteer opportunities in your community.

Thanks to IMPACT Silver Spring for sponsoring the book group discussions that inspired this post.

Link to book:

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