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
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.
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.
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.