Our Story

Over the Years

Peck publishes The Road Less Travelled

Dr. Peck was a highly respected and popular psychiatrist, speaker, teacher, and best-selling author in the from the 1980 – 2000s. His book The Road Less Traveled was published in 1978 and is still a legend in the publishing world with over twenty consecutive years on the New York Times best seller list. Key themes in the book were the meaning of love, healthy discipline, and integrating spirituality and psychology into every-day life. In many ways, Dr. Peck was really the first true “self-help” teacher on a global scale. He was popular with all audiences, and especially with people from Judeo-Christian faith traditions and with traditional values.

Foundation for Community Encouragement formed

Dr. Peck launches the original Community Building Workshops (now referred to as CBW “Classic”) and his nonprofit organization called The Foundation for Community Encouragement (FCE) (1984-2004). Edward Groody, CBI’s founder, was a part of FCE’s original staff. Maryann Schmidt, FCE’s board chair was a key figure and leader. Over fifty facilitators were trained and did great work with a wide range of groups and organizations internationally, although almost all of the facilitators were from the USA. There are too many facilitator names to mention from FCE’s early days that did the pioneering work of spreading CB. At its peak, FCE was holding 5-6 workshops per month in Knoxville, TN USA its headquarters and other locations around the world.

The Different Drum is published

Peck had many other best-selling books including The Different Drum, his first book on the topic of “true” Community. In his psychiatry practice and during his travels speaking and holding workshops he saw a great loneliness and growing isolation and polarization in the world. He called this a loss of genuine Community and saw it as the source of many of society’s ills. In response to this need, he developed the Community Building process and workshop and devoted the later part of his life to spreading the experience and vision of “true Community.”

People from around the world attend CBWs
Community Building enters prisons

Bob Roberts with Project Return in New Orleans, LA, and Tim Dempsey with Chattanooga Endeavors in Chattanooga, TN played key roles in spreading the CB work to new venues by incorporating CB into ex-offender reentry programs, and securing government funding.

FCE Closes

In many ways, Dr. Peck was ahead of his time. At first interest in CB was high due to Peck’s books and his personal efforts. But Community Building was difficult to explain and market at that time. Eventually, as Dr. Peck’s health faltered the work had moved into the background and FCE closed (2004). Only a handful of individual facilitators kept the work alive, mostly holding occasional public trainings or offering workshops to faith-based organizations. There were also individuals like CBI’s founder that incorporated CB into organizational team building and change management work.

M. Scott Peck passes

Peck died at his home in Connecticut on September 25, 2005. Fuller Theological Seminary houses the archives of his publications, awards, and correspondence.

CBI is founded

Edward Groody had been using CB in his organizational consulting work in healthcare, manufacturing and other industries, as well as organizing occasional public workshops. He also had friendships with Bob Roberts and Tim Dempsey and provided occasional CB consulting and training support for their nonprofit organizations. In 2013 he created CBI, the Community Building Institute, as a vehicle for solely spreading CB, apart from his other consulting work. The name was later changed to Community Building International (CBI). Since that time there has been a resurgence of interest in CB, due to both an urgent and increasing need, as well as better ways to explain and deliver CB work to different audiences.

Milwaukee Project Begins

Almost immediately after it was formed, CBI was contacted by Secretary Eloise Anderson with the State of Wisconsin Department of Children and Family Services, and Clarence Johnson and Jim Bartos of Wisconsin Community Services, to act as the external trainer and consultant for the first ever citywide Community Building initiative. The goal was to use CB to help improve outcomes in human service and criminal justice organizations, reduce violence and improve public health and safety. The highly popular program, with over a 100+ trained facilitators, is now in its 10th year and continues to receive enthusiastic support.

CBI Training Begins in Europe

As Community Building was happening in the USA, individuals in Europe were implementing CB using Dr. Peck’s books but lacked professional CB training. Unfortunately, in some cases this caused harm to individuals and organizations. Edward Groody was contacted by several individuals in Europe and asked to conduct professional CB Facilitator training. Hana Perglerova, a CBI Senior Facilitator played a key role in organizing and spreading the CB work in Prague and the entire Czech Republic. Volunteer Country Contacts followed and pioneered workshops in their countries including:

Austria: Lenka Kmeťová
Czech Republic:Hana Perglerova & Tereza Kulhánková
Germany: Alexander Wiedemann & Simone Kosog
Hungary: Arina Matvejeva & András Csengey
Latvia: Arina Matvejeva
Poland: Emilia Ślimko
Slovakia: Silvia Herianová, Karol Herian, & Andrea Mikolášiková
Switzerland: Andreas Reese
USA/Milwaukee: Jim Bartos, Clarence Johnson, Ken Rybak
Virgin Islands, British: Katherine Wilson

The CB facilitator training and other CB workshops offered by CBI were so well received that CBI now operates in over 11 countries with over 50 European facilitators or facilitators in training.

COVID Art of Connection: CBST Online Format Born

Another key development in the history of CB occurred as a result of the Covid epidemic. Unable to hold in-person workshops, CBI in collaboration with Wisconsin Community Services began offering highly successful online CB trainings using new methods, exercises and formats. This opened up new and more efficient ways to apply CB in business, human services and many other sectors and settings. This new CB format called The Art of Connection: CB Skills Training (CBST) was able to be adapted to half day, one-day, two and three-day formats. The CB Skills Training is now CBI’s most popular training.

CB/CBI Spreads Quickly

CBI is now recognized as the global experts in professional CB facilitation, training, consulting and facilitator certification – with over 30+ years of experience in multiple sectors and settings.

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