Gar Alperovitz and John McKnight in Conversation

John McKnight’s approach to community development is to turn attention to the assets of a neighborhood rather than elaborate on its problems.  For instance, he would suggest that the primary wealth in a neighborhood is the power generated by the investment of the capacities of the residents and their associations.

Called Asset Based Community Development, John McKnight has influenced and trained three generations of community activists in Chicago and beyond including, famously, Barack Obama. A close associate of Ivan Illich, he has provided both the vision and practice for a solution-oriented approach to community organizing.

Historian, political economist, and activist, Gar Alperovitz is a noted expert on policy issues as they pertain to cooperative ownership, diversification of wealth, fair labor laws, anti-discrimination, community control, and ecological sustainability.

Working for decades in Washington, DC to influence a transition to a more just society, he is also well known for his opposition to nuclear power and the role he played in helping to secure the Pentagon Papers.

In celebration of 40 years of the Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures, and in anticipation of the October 25, 2020 Lectures with Kali Akuno and George Monbiot, the Schumacher Center is highlighting the work of past speakers, asking for updates of their earlier remarks, and inviting their observations given this period of change and the new political, economic and social conditions we are experiencing.

On Wednesday, July 22 at 2pm EST, Gar Alperovitz and John McKnight will engage in a live, virtual conversation on Zoom moderated by Jodie Evans. Registration is free. A question and answer period with participants will follow initial presentations.

The July 9 Conversation between Michael Shuman and Judy Wicks is available to watch here, and the July 16 Conversation between Richard Heinberg and Helena Norberg-Hodge here.

About our speakers:

Gar Alperovitz is the former Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland. Historian, political economist, activist, writer, and former government official, he is the author of numerous books.
After receiving a Ph.D. in political economy as a Marshall scholar at Cambridge University, Alperovitz served as a legislative director in both houses of Congress and as a special assistant in the State Department. A well-known policy expert, he has testified before numerous Congressional committees and lectures widely around the country. Among his achievements is having been the architect of the first modern steel-industry attempt at worker ownership in Youngstown, Ohio. In addition, he was nominated to be a member of the Council of Economic Advisers by leading national consumer, labor, and environmental organizations.

Alperovitz is the president of the National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives and is a founding principal of The Democracy Collaborative, a research institution developing practical, policy-focused, and systematic paths towards ecologically sustainable, community-oriented change and the democratization of wealth. He was a founding board member of the New Economy Coalition and is currently co-chair of the Next System Project.

John L. McKnight is co-director of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute and Professor Emeritus of Communications Studies and Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. As a lecturer and consultant he has shared his experience in social service delivery systems, health policy, community organization, neighborhood policy, and institutional racism with community groups, government agencies, foreign governments, and international agencies. As both a community activist and a theoretician, McKnight has viewed the social welfare system of this country from the street as well as academe.

As a result of a national study of local neighborhood initiatives, McKnight and his long-time colleague, Jody Kretzmann, co-authored the basic guide to asset-based community development, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Identifying and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets. This book has become one of the nation’s best-selling guides to community development, and the methods it outlines are now utilized world-wide.

Prior to joining the faculty of Northwestern University in 1969, McKnight held positions as a Human Relations Officer with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, where he worked as a neighborhood organizer and helped create a program to end racial discrimination in Chicago hospitals. He then served as the Illinois director of the American Civil Liberties Union, organizing chapters throughout the State. After President Kennedy’s election he joined the federal government in a new department that created the Affirmative Action Program. He then served as the Midwest Director of the United States Civil Rights Commission, where he worked with the civil rights movement in the last half of the 1960s.

McKnight has been active with many civil organizations. He co-founded the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group in Chicago and the Gamaliel Foundation, a national organization training neighborhood organizers. One of his trainees at the foundation was President Barack Obama. He is also a founding board member of National People’s Action, a nationwide organization of activist civic groups. His blog may be read at www.Abundant

Past lectures and publications by our speakers include:

Upcoming Schumacher Conversations:

July 30 – Mary Berry and Bill McKibben
August 20 – Nwamaka Agbo and Stacy Mitchell
August 6 – Greg Watson and John Todd
September 3 – Otto Scharmer and Matt Stinchcomb
August 13 – Wes Jackson and David Orr
September 10 – Neva Goodwin and Stewart Wallis

more events forthcoming

Previous Schumacher lectures and speaker biographies can be found here:

Please join us Thursdays at 2PM Eastern through October for the Schumacher Conversations.

Wishing all good health,
Staff of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics