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HCI Webinar: Discovering the Health, Wealth, and Power of Community, Cormac Russell

In the latest HCI Webinar, Dr. Jonathan H. Westover talks with Cormac Russell about his book, The Connected Community: Discovering the Health, Wealth, and Power of Neighborhoods. Below is a summary of the main points from their conversation! Check out the full episode and let us know what you think!


Watch the episode here:


Quick Recap


Jonathan and Cormac discussed the importance of community in organizational leadership. Cormac emphasized that community is a verb, something done with others, and should be perceived as permeable. Jonathan and Cormac also touched on the concept of an asset-based approach versus a deficit-based approach in community building. They emphasized the importance of trust, reciprocal relationships, and balance in community building. Furthermore, they discussed Cormac's work, his books, and his social enterprise.


Community Leadership Concepts


Jonathan and Cormac discussed the concept of community and its importance in organizational leadership. Jonathan emphasized the need for connecting with communities effectively for driving impact through organizations. Cormac, a social explorer and author, emphasized that community is a verb, something we do in a place with others, and it's about welcoming the stranger. They also experienced some technical difficulties at the start of the recording.


Community and Inclusivity


Cormac and Jonathan discussed the concept of community, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and welcoming diversity. Cormac highlighted the potential for the term community to be misinterpreted, used to exclude those seen as different, and emphasized the need for community to be perceived as permeable. Jonathan agreed, noting that inclusivity is crucial for creating a true sense of belonging within a community. They also cautioned against limiting the scope and scale of a community by rigidly enforcing norms and values. Instead, they advocated for a more open approach where diversity is celebrated and individuals are welcomed regardless of their differences.


Deficit vs Asset-Based Community Building


Jonathan and Cormac discussed the concept of a deficit-based approach versus an asset-based approach in community building. Jonathan asked Cormac to elaborate on the benefits of an asset-based approach, and Cormac emphasized the importance of reciprocal relationships, balance between managed and personal space, and shared space. He also described the good life as being more embodied, not just human-centric. Cormac also mentioned the concept of moving through the world at the speed of trust.


Trust, Community, and Organizational Development


Cormac and Jonathan discussed the importance of trust in community building and organization development. Cormac emphasized the role of trust as the 'glue' in small-scale communities and networks, where people are motivated to contribute and assume the best of each other. He also suggested that the real test of an organization's health is whether they can maintain productivity during a 'work to rule' strike, which involves only working to the terms of the contract. The pair also touched on the need for permission to dissent in organizations, as a lack of psychological safety can lead to mistrust. To build more meaningful and connected communities, Cormac suggested not over-committing oneself to work, making time for personal communities, and recognizing that life is more than just a marketplace.


Cormac's Work and Social Enterprise


Cormac and Jonathan discussed Cormac's work and his two books, "Rekindling Democracy" and "The Connected Community." They also talked about Cormac's social enterprise, Nurture Development Organization, and a podcast he co-hosts with Sasha Dewolfe. Jonathan encouraged the audience to connect with Cormac and check out his books and podcast. Cormac invited listeners to reach out to him for any questions or suggestions for future work.


Listen to the webinar here:




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