Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 28, 2009

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
The more I learn about this region’s collaborative efforts, its interactive programs and its commitment to higher community values, the more my mind goes in circles. It was not that many years ago that the Fresno Business Council dropped its first pebble into our civic environment lake and created a noticeable ripple on its smooth surface. Today that same surface is covered with ever expanding and deeper penetrating concentric circles created by the impact of larger and larger pebbles being dropped upon it. For this we owe appreciation to the dedication of all of those who are involved in creating a measurable improvement in our social and economic wellbeing throughout ever expanding parameters. As you read this Bulletin and other sources to which it refers, see if you, too, don’t agree. The chances are you’ve helped create one or more ripples yourself.

Structures for the 21st Century
There have been a variety of books describing at will organizations based upon partnership, personal responsibility and empowerment. Many believe that in the rapidly changing, global economy of the 21st century, we must master this form of organization in both the corporate and community domains to thrive. Dee Hock, founder of VISA, wrote a book entitled One From Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization. His book provides some answers to questions about aligning diverse organizations and individuals behind a shared purpose that is in their collective self interest. He also explains how to create a culture that empowers individuals to make good decisions in real time in the field. Central to making such an organization work is the character of the people. “An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it.” In other words form, control, bureaucracy and hierarchy are no match for individual motivation and mutual trust. The execution of the RHI and HII are terrific teachers of this art.

Human Investment Initiative Moving to Neighborhood Level
When the HII action plan was printed, the words “preliminary version” were included on every page. John Dewey’s insight, "We learn by doing after we have reflected on what we have done," captures the courage to try new approaches coupled with the humility to learn to fail fast. As many heroic attempts to address poverty fill history books, who would dare to try yet again. What have we learned so far? A couple of key lessons:
• Hope and trust must precede accountability. The HII is about relationships built over time based upon respect and truth telling.
• The field of neuroscience offers tools historically unavailable. Understanding how trauma affects brain structure and function underscores the importance of preventable trauma and offers a path to healing.
• No one sector can effectively address poverty; nor are solutions linear or easily measured. This challenge requires simultaneous economic, social, infrastructural, systemic, and individual changes.
• We cannot talk our way out of a problem we behaved ourselves into individually and collectively. Success is about long term commitment and relentless action.

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