Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9, 2009

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
A year has gone by since the voters of this nation used the privilege granted them in our constitution to elect by majority vote those candidates for public office they prefer to serve them during the ensuing political cycle. Whenever we become disenchanted with the performance of the party in power, we make a change. The underlying strength of this country resides in having a strong two party system with the primary responsibility of the “out” party being to serve as the watchdog over the actions of the other. Our history tells us that rancor, diatribes pitting one party against the other and forecasts of impending doom have always been a part of this process. What has never changed has been that cadre of citizens who quietly and efficiently continue their quest of transformation amid the ongoing political turmoil. Such has been the role of the members of the Fresno Business Council and our extended family of those dedicated to making our tomorrow better than our yesterday.

“It’s Different This Time”—A Community Steps Up Together
Barn raising is an American tradition where everyone came together when someone needed a barn. Most were volunteers, a handful of those with special skills were paid and everyone benefitted, not just the family with a new barn. Early Americans understood interdependence and that there are challenges we can only meet as a united whole. Community transformation is one of them. As the RJI continues to accelerate driven by the EDC, Office of Community and Economic Development at Fresno State, Lyles Center, WIB, State Center and others, the City of Fresno is sparking increasing engagement from many institutions and organizations to revitalize the Lowell Neighborhood. Here is an excerpt from a recent blog from Craig Scharton, the head of the Downtown and Community Revitalization Department:

What an unbelievably great meeting! Fresno State is on it. They have departments lined up with classes and internships all focused on Lowell. Off the top of my head: construction management, recreation, education, the library (for research and database), political science, psychology, business, engineering, arts (lighting)...and others that I'm forgetting. They have a matrix of every department's involvement. They have specific classes that will be involved. They are organizing an event to link nonprofits in Lowell to students. This is so incredibly gigantic. They are hosting a national conference for Urban Universities next year and will bring schools from around the country to Fresno to see how an engaged city and university can work together. Somebody pinch me...I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that this would all be happening so quickly. Dr. Welty, the Provost and Assistant Provost are all actively engaged to pull this focus and follow-through together. I do not believe that there is anything quite like what is happening, anywhere in the country. As Mayor Swearengin says, "it is different this time." Folks, it is different, I've been doing this stuff off and on for 25 years. I have never seen things happening like this before.

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