Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
The longer I attend Board meetings of the Fresno Business Council, the more convinced I become that we face no challenge larger than creating awareness among our membership and broader community of the scope of our collective successes and opportunities. Unless one is exposed to the diversity and the depth of the work going on, it is difficult to understand the impact of these efforts and the reasons for optimism. Leaders of institutions and organizations are learning the skills of collaborative stewardship as we work together to address challenges so complex and multi-dimensional that no one working alone could fully understand or resolve them.

What Have We Learned
As a number of us are putting “lessons learned” to paper, one of them is the value of exploring best practices from other communities. The reality of the global economy, decentralization of power and shifting demographics was anticipated decades ago. Cities and regions across the country have been experimenting with new ways of doing the community’s business for years. In some communities, pioneers went out early to map new approaches while in others the status quo futilely tried to deny change, seeking to patch rather innovate and are lagging far behind.

The FBC is committed to active learning across many disciplines. Along with other communities, we are on the hunt for a new civic DNA. A number of my longtime mentors wrote a book entitled: Boundary Crossers: Community Leadership for a Global Age in 1997. They distilled ten lessons from civic efforts across the country. Knowledge becomes wisdom when you experience it as true and begin to live it. As many of us are experiencing these lessons, I thought you would find them useful:

1. The table gets larger……and rounder.
2. The only thing more challenging then a crisis may be its absence.
3. The agenda gets tougher.
4. There is no magical leadership structure—just people and relationships.
5. No one’s excused.
6. Sometimes the old ways still work.
7. Collaboration is messy, frustrating and indispensable.
8. Government always needs reforming, but all reforms need government.
9. Place matters.
10. It’s never over.

To Sum It Up—John W. Gardner
“What we need, and what seems to be emerging in some of our communities, is something new—networks of responsibility drawn from all segments, coming together to create a wholeness that incorporates diversity. The participants are at home with change and exhibit a measure of shared values, a sense of mutual obligation and trust. Above all, they have a sense of responsibility for the future of the whole city and region.” In Fresno, the Four Spheres and the Community Values provide a framework and operating system reflective of the lessons we have learned through doing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
Recently I heard a marvelous presentation on conflict resolution and mediation. The focus was on the way we espouse our position on public policies and personas. How do we overcome the temptation of distortion and alienation in promoting our desires on sensitive ballot issues and candidates for public office? What was most interesting is that research has now established that some people have a generic deviation in their frontal lobe which contributes to their vocal combativeness. My conclusion, therefore, is that as we go through our bi-annual election year process with all of its oftentimes abrasive rhetoric, we each place a greater emphasis on what we believe is deeply rooted in the proponent’s conscience rather than what we read, see or hear as part of the overt campaign process. That compassionate distinction, it seems to me, defines Democracy.

RJI Annual Meeting—May 26: Staying Ahead of the Curve—Save the Date
Kudos to RJI cluster leaders and participants who are making steady progress in learning how to leverage public and private resources to strengthen companies and industries. There are currently 11 clusters—Construction, Clean Energy, Manufacturing, Logistics & Distribution, Tourism, Food Processing, Public Sector, Arts & Culture, Software and Water. On May 26 from 7:30 to 9:30 AM, you will have an opportunity to learn about specific accomplishments and future initiatives. In addition, there will be a financial panel to explain how to access capital through various programs. Our keynote will be Dr. Serve Pierre Besanger. He is an economist and strategist with 26 years of experience in 20 countries. He has chaired numbers boards and served as an advisor to over 50 leading companies and institutions on three continents.

Smart Valley Places
Issue by issue we are learning how interdependent solutions to critical problems are. The foundation for a strong economy and healthy neighborhoods is infrastructure—how it is designed and developed. As many issues have regional impacts, the notion of Smart Valley Places has emerged. Smart Valley Places is being developed as a regional sustainable communities network in the Central Valley. By using smart tools, plans, polices, and practices the intention is to integrate economic growth, social equity, environmental quality and resource stewardship in planning and acting. Through a deeper understanding of long term ramifications, we can be more intentional about the community’s business and achieve greater success in all spheres of work.

Fact-Based Decision Making
At the beginning of each board meeting, we discuss one of the ten community values to keep them top of mind. As science continues to reduce facts to myths and assumptions, the importance of humility has grown. While often unconscious, how we think and our motivational biases can prevent us from seeing the obvious or being open to equally valid, yet different perceptions. Like the blind men describing an elephant, what you believe may have more to do with where you are standing than what is true.

April 12, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
After being present for over thirty thousand sunrises over our beautiful Sierras, I remain convinced that one of the highest rewards of a long life is being inspired by people and events that surround us. Among the highest of people inspirers in my life are those dedicated men and women who are unselfishly giving of their time and talents in developing programs designed to improve the quality of life for all among us. It is to the credit of so many community-minded members of the Fresno Business Council that they are high among these inspiration creators. Because of those who care so deeply, each day we grow closer to the dawn when we shall celebrate the attainment of our long sought civic transformation. That’ll be an inspirational sunrise worth working for. Let’s bring it on!

UC Merced Offering Class on Energy for Sustainability in Fresno, May 14 & 15
Government policies will have a large impact on which technologies are developed and which communities prosper as we shift away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources. UC Merced is offering a class on energy for sustainability in Fresno. The course is being offered on May 14 and 15 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the UC Merced Center—550 E. Shaw Avenue. For more detailed course information and to enroll: . For more information call 559.241.7512.

The course was designed for professionals in private (utility, renewable energy, clean tech, building design/construction) and public sectors, who wish to advance, switch or begin careers in sustainable energy related functions across commercial, industrial, residential, corporate and government sectors. City/community planners, facility managers, energy officers, architects, engineers, project managers, developers, builders, contractors, urban planners, municipal agencies, policy makers, energy consultants, environmental services, sustainability managers, business managers, non-profit agencies who are interested in a broader, deeper understanding of sustainability, energy efficiency, renewable energy, or green building; decision-makers and individuals who recognize the importance of planning renewable energy communities and their global impacts will also find this course of interest.

One Option—Nuclear
Many of you may have attended the EDC’s special event to hear Anne Lauvergeon, CEO of the French nuclear energy company, Areva. The Fresno Nuclear Energy Group formed three years ago to explore the possibility of an energy park in western Fresno County. The park would feature solar and wind technology in addition to nuclear. The package would decrease energy costs, create jobs, build the economy and improve air quality. Clearly, the more people who are well informed about opportunities, possibilities, and long term implications the wiser our collective community will become and the better decisions we will make. To learn more about the EDC Clean Energy Cluster call 476-2500 x 115.

March 22, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
I’d like to share a tribute with you this week. This is the time of the year when we all enjoy the visual delight of our orchards in full blossom. Later in the year we shall relish the fruits and nuts harvested from them. What we all too often forget is that the harvest cannot come without pollination of the blossoms by busy worker bees. So too, it seems to me, it is in our world of community transformation. It all begins with the euphoria of developing plans and programs for our social and economic betterment. However, unless we find the problem solvers, the stewards and those with the dignity and discipline to move them forward, these noble plans will fall to the ground like unpollinated tree blossoms. Therefore, in this time of enjoying nature’s beauty all about us, let’s take some time to also recognize the vital contributions of all of those who are working quietly and effectively to make our upcoming transformational harvest a memorable one. They are our worker bees. Why not become one if you are not one already?

Four Spheres and Community Values—Bookends of Transformational Change

Economic Development
In 2000, when the Collaborative Regional Initiative (CRI) first launched, Fresno was a very different place. Most believed our economy would remain one dimensional and low cost and that poverty was inevitable. Ten years later, the Regional Jobs Initiative has changed the way we do economic development. Core leadership includes the Economic Development Corporation, the Workforce Investment Board, Fresno State, the Lyles Center, County of Fresno, and the Fresno Business Council. The implementation team includes many more organizations. The change—we link, align and leverage resources of multiple disciplines behind a shared strategy. With dramatic changes in the economy, work is underway to adapt and expand into rural areas.

Infrastructure Development
This sphere of work has many projects and initiatives underway from TreeTOPS to arts and culture; from affordable housing to Smart Valley Places. Organizations are supporting one another to improve both our natural and built environment. All are essential to improving our economic development prospects and overall quality of life. What’s different?—communication and points of leverage. As a community we have learned about critical issues within each sphere and are finding solutions by crossing boundaries.

Human Development
Building upon what we have learned about collaboration in the other spheres, a number of experiments are underway to remediate poverty and improve key systems. The City’s effort to empower residents and improve the environment in Lowell has all hands on deck. Many departments at Fresno State have stepped up along with other organizations and City departments are working together in new ways. The Mental Health Cluster envisions a new approach to this critical issue with the theme, “We have met the solution and it is us.” (Siegfried, Pogo’s asset-based twin brother) Watch for details of a major public event on April 27.

Fourth Sphere—The Whole
While some due to position or natural talent are responsible for the whole, we are all responsible to the whole. Our choices impact others. Let us be conscious and intentional.