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One-Block Revolution: 20 Years of Community Building
     Edited by Summer Hess

“A fascinating collection of pieces about my favorite neighborhood in Spokane.”

     --Jess Walter, National Book Award Finalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins

Book Description:

When a public defender named Jim Sheehan received an unexpected inheritance, ​he decided to put his money to work for people and the planet. He purchased and renovated a cluster of six buildings in a dilapidated corner of downtown Spokane, Washington and repurposed them for the collective good. For more than twenty years these buildings, now known as the Community Building Campus, have served as an interdisciplinary hub where grassroots leaders run campaigns, build coalitions, host meetings, train activists, and transform their city.


One-Block Revolution honors the chorus of diverse changemakers who show up every day to build their community. Part counterculture manifesto and framework for participatory placemaking, part handbook for nonprofits and social enterprises, this anthology tells one of Spokane’s most essential stories, while providing inspiration and practical guidance for organizations across the world.

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Introduction:  Community Building Is a Noun and a Verb — Summer Hess

Part One: Community Building Is a Noun

1 The Antidote Is Community — Jim Sheehan
2 One-Block Revolution — Rebecca Mack
3 Beauty and Inclusion in People-Centered Spaces — Patsy O’Connor
4 Beneath the Surface: Green Building Practices — Austen White
5 Coordinating Community — Dave Sanders
6 Building Stewardship — Warrin Bazille
7 The Rise and Sunset of the Center for Justice — Breean Beggs
8 Child Care as Social Justice — Anita Morgan
9 Thin Air Community Radio — Shahrokh Nikfar
10 Launching a Food Co-op with Developer Capital — Megan White
11 Global Fair Trade and the Local Economy — Denise Attwood and Kim Harmson

Part Two: Community Building Is a Verb

12 Capacity Building: The Foundation’s Role — Patty Gates
13 Envision Spokane: The Community Bill of Rights Movement — Kai Huschke
14 Wealth Management for Community Builders — John Bjorkman
15 Raised by Community — Mariah McKay
16 Arts, Entertainment & Social Change — Joe Sheehan
17 Full-Spectrum Leadership — Nina Simons
18 Organizational Leadership from the Heart — Mary Alberts
19 Community Building Legacy — Katy Sheehan

Praise for One-Block Revolution:

"Over the past two decades I have had a front row seat to watch the transformation of the Community Building Campus and to witness the ripples of positive impacts it has created. This book perfectly captures the long arc of local, grassroots, community-led change sparked by the Community Building, which has helped to make Spokane and Washington State a more just and equitable place for all."

     --Senator Andy Billig, Washington State Senate Majority Leader

"This fascinating book puts Spokane on the progressive map. Cities across the country should envy a street given over to nonprofit causes, health food, and leading-edge entertainments. Twenty contributors outline the altruisms they could undertake thanks to the benefactor who bought the buildings so they could mount their little revolution in this once-gritty city."

     --Paul Lindholdt, Washington State Book Award-winning author of In Earshot of Water

"The Community Building pulses with its own energy and seemingly emits its own semiochemical that is intoxicating to anyone whose signals bend towards vision, creativity, humanity, social justice, leadership; i.e. community. One-Block Revolution is an inspiring read, not just about how one building cluster changed one mid-sized American city, but also about how many hearts, minds, and souls made it possible for so many people in Spokane to find themselves and their tribe and how those people collectively continue to do good for the world."

     --Bart Mihailovich, Organizing Manager, U.S. Waterkeeper Alliance

“Jim Sheehan’s vision of creating space for a thriving community of advocates, visionaries, and change makers was extraordinary. The story of how he brought that vision to life is an inspiring model for the rest of us who say we want to BE the change that we seek in the world. Grateful for his vision, the community of change makers and impact they’ve had on Spokane.”

     --Regina Malveaux, Executive Director, Washington State Women’s Commission

"Having relocated to Spokane to be a part of the one-block revolution, I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact of that transformation on the entire city. Now it’s time for all of us to expand the revolution into one that transforms communities across the United States, and this book is an essential guide for anyone who wants to do exactly that."

     --Thomas Linzey, Senior Legal Counsel, Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights

"It’s rare to get such an in-depth view of the rippling effects social purpose real estate has in a community. What a gift to hear from the multiple voices in One-Block Revolution that built this inclusive, welcoming community and continue building it, a collective and infinite legacy."

     --Leena Waite, Consulting Coordinator for The Nonprofit Centers Network


"A great case study on place-based social change. It takes place in Washington State, but readers from anywhere will find the pages packed with lessons, cautionary tales, best practices and inspiration."

     --Jon Snyder, Outdoor Recreation and Economic Development Senior Policy Advisor to Gov. Jay Inslee

“Physical spaces – even, and maybe especially, those that are small in square footage – can be the spark and the home base that encourage us to act bravely, explore new ideas, and foster collective flourishing. One-Block Revolution is as engaging for those of us who have planted ourselves in this city and on this particular block as it will be for those seeking and building community anywhere.”

     --Breanne Durham, Washington Main Street Director, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation

"Having worked with Jim Sheehan and his team – many of whom have both lived and authored the provocative essays in One-Block Revolution – I’ve seen up close how this experiment in place-based intelligence and investment in relationships, culture, and collaboration have driven social innovation that endures. This radical approach to philanthropy rebalances power and creates the conditions for community-led change."

     --Toby Herzlich, Founder, Biomimicry for Social Innovation

“It has been a joy, over the last twenty-plus years, to watch the Community Building Campus grow as a vibrant and inclusive district within the Spokane University District...and now, a joy to read about the people that made it happen.”

     --Juliet Sinisterra, CEO (interim), Spokane University District


“Sense of purpose enhanced by sense of place; this One-Block Revolution has become home to a community of good people and good organizations doing great things for our world. Led by the vision of one person, this is an example of values brought to life through action, and multiplied by community. The Community Building Campus is inspiration for us all to join the movement to make our world a better place, one block at a time.”

     --Matt Santangelo, Executive Director of Spokane Hoopfest Association

"Don’t be deceived. This book is not about a building. It is about creating the conditions that nurture possibility. Interwoven stories reveal the hopes and aspirations of an unlikely set of companions....This is the story of what’s done when we want to do community building."

     --Bob Stilger, PhD, Founder of NewStories

"‘If these walls could talk’ is a common refrain, but rarely do we get to hear what they would say. These reflections and stories describe a special place that has inspired and compelled me in my work to not just build places but community. One-Block Revolution allows the stories of these people and this place to spread, inspire, and challenge far beyond the block they originated."

     --Lars Gilberts, AVP Community Development & Impact for Numerica Credit Union

One-Block Revolution invites everyone who is community-minded to join a worthy experiment that considers, ‘What does it take for all of a community’s residents to thrive for everyone?’ For those of us trying to answer this question in our own communities, this book stirs the imagination, challenges status quo assumptions to community development, and offers helpful lessons learned.”

     --Mike Bontrager, Founder of Chatham Financial and Co-founder of Square Roots Collective

"The stories in this volume tie together a rich history of social innovation and economic development in a mid-size American city. The careful editing creates a robust set of stories about a dynamic ecosystem that should be on the bookshelves of developers, philanthropists, public servants and citizens of growing cities."

     --Michael Ebinger, Ph.D., MBA, former director of the WSU Center for Innovation, Spokane

"Nearly fifty years ago, Jim Sheehan frequently and generously shared his world-vision with his friends.  “Sheehanisms” we called these sharings. Idealistic. Beyond reach. But the Fates smiled and Jim acted. In the perfectly titled, One-Block Revolution, the legacy of Jim’s action is recorded. The essays include thoughtful tutorials on the role of leadership and philanthropy in promoting a just society—included, no doubt,  as a clarion call to those  with the means to act boldly and advance the revolution." 

     --Thomas Hillier, longtime Federal Public Defender

"One-Block Revolution is an informative, engaging, and must-read book for anyone who cares about social change and social justice. Each contributor was an active and distinctive participant in the two decades of Jim Sheehan’s Community Building Campus, and each chapter, like pieces of a puzzle, adds its own shape and color to this Spokane adventure in Community Buildings and Building Community."

     --Dr. C. Earl Leininger, Professor of Philosophy & Religion at Mars Hill University (retired)

"A great behind-the-scenes look at how intentional development can preserve a neighborhood’s character, grow community, and advance social and environmental justice while still being an economic success. Spokane is fortunate to have this gem anchoring the east end of downtown."

     --Sharon Smith, Trustee for the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, A Charitable Foundation

"One-Block Revolution is truly a neverending story that extends far beyond two hundred pages, one-hundred-year-old brick walls, and Spokane’s city limits. The passion, vision, and audacity of the people who helped contribute to the last twenty years of community building have been instrumental in inspiring others to not only reimagine Spokane, but reimagine our world. "

     --Ryann Louie, Co-chair of APIC Spokane & Founder of Reimagine Spokane

“What an insightful and helpful look at the benefits, blessings, and profound struggles inherent in community building and collaboration. One-Block Revolution provides inspiration and guidance for individuals and organizations working to build equitable and healthy communities.”

     --Ryan Oelrich, Executive Director, Priority Spokane

"The Community Building is a great example on the spectrum of community shared space, and this book lifts up its vibrant story. It's also a call to action for real estate owners to put their buildings into community service -- particularly around leaving a legacy of impact as we head into one of the greatest intergenerational wealth transfers in history of the United States."

     --Saul Ettlin, Director of Consulting, Community Vision

"One-Block Revolution captures the nerve and verve of community building and the value of empowering the voices of ordinary people and turning those voices into action."

     --Steve Maher, Director of Our Valley Our Future / Nuestro Valle Nuestro Futuro, Wenatchee

“A shining example of how ordinary citizens have the power to improve the lives of fellow citizens with creativity, passion, and commitment.  A great testament to the very American tradition of philanthropy."

     --Beth Stipe, Executive Director, Community Foundation of North Central Washington

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