This book is a guide for leaders seeking to build a community, to strengthen the community they already have, or who may not think of themselves as community leaders but who are envisioning a group they hope to create. These communities can be formal, with official memberships and administrations, or informal, tied by shared values and commitments. Some people think communities happen by accident, or have to emerge organically, but Charles Vogl emphasizes that there are solid, time-honored principles for consciously building them. Drawing on 3,000 years of tradition, Vogl lays out seven enduring principles that every community of every kind must master to be effective and supportive. He describes each principle's purpose and provides extensive hands-on tools for implementing them. He also helps leaders ensure that their communities remain healthy and life-affirming and not degenerate into rigid cults.
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“The Art of Community: Seven Principles for Belonging” is a well-written, well-structured, and excellently delivered business focused book, targeting those in leadership roles, however its teachings can be applied to any person wanting to build or strengthen a community. The book is written by Charles Vogl, and it appears to be his first published work. The audiobook is narrated by Tom Dheere who has nearly fifty titles already narrated on Audible.
The book opens by explaining how our lives, whether we see it or not, are impacted and molded by our involvement within various communities we are a part of or seek to become members of. The author discusses the concept of inner and outer “community” rings and how we strive to be a part of an inner ring, yet within that ring we learn there are yet additional inner rings to be sought; a trap if that is our only reason to join a community. An inner ring member has additional privileges that are only given to its members such as executives in a company, etc.
The book covers the structure of a community requires with or without our knowledge. What the community stand for, what defines its member, what information is included or excluded, along with many other aspects make up a community. Leadership are those who make many of these decisions listed above, Gatekeepers are those who bridge the gap between outsiders and the inner part of the ring, while Members as those within the community ring, and outsiders are those external to the community ring. The author stresses that it is important to acknowledge, create, and nurture or grow the many communities which are a parts of our lives. I thought the discussion on both formal and information communities was informative. After reading this book you will begin to see the vast number of communities you are involved.
The author was able to open with a decent number of statistics and third-party research showing the importance of community and belonging. The book is similar to “Tribes” writing by Seth Godin, with this book being more generic in its application. The author covers each of the seven aspects of a community. These seven include: boundaries, initiation, rituals, stories, symbols, and growth of inner-rings. Communities provide a means of growth, nurturing, and belonging. After reading this book, I began to see the many communities we are all a part of or join to be one of the in-crowd. Social networks are a perfect example of the importance of community. Think of people who overcome a near terminal medial issues, often these people join a community that is specific to their need. You can see that other groups like AA or Weight Watchers fit this same community definition.
In relation to the book’s audio narration, Tom Deere does an excellent job of reading the material. The audio is clean, crisp, and without any audio artifacts found in some audiobooks. The audio recording does not contain swallows, background noise, or other general noises. The narrator reads the book at a decent speed, however I found that listening to him at 1.25x felt more comfortable for my listening speed. Mr. Dheere narrates various genres, however his Audible books mostly are made up of Sci-fi & Fantasy books. Because this is a non-fiction business book, it is hard to comment on his ability to voice multiple characters or his use of inflections, etc. Liking his voice and professional recording quality, I would listen to other material produced by this narrator.
Disclaimer: This book was provided to the reviewer by the author, narrator, or publisher in exchange for publishing a non-bias review.