Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 23, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
One of the rewards of living in the middle of the most productive agricultural climate in the nation is the expectation of having a bountiful harvest each fall. While the springtime blossoms may determine the volume of the harvest, it is the cultural practices during the maturation period that determine the quality of the end product. So, too, it seems to me, is the progression of our political processes. Our March primary is when we plant the seeds which we expect to harvest in November. The time in between is when it is up to us to till the political soil and determine which seeds hold the most promise for a quality crop. In only a few weeks, our eyes and ears will once again be filled with arguments for a particular variety. It is up to us to make our selections wisely. In agriculture it’s called horticultural practices. In the political arena it’s called Democracy In Action.

Four Spheres Workshops—New Operating System
As we set out in 2000 to address the structural issues of the economy that prevented greater prosperity and allowed concentrated poverty, we learned many things. Central to our education was the recognition of interdependence--that without an equally strong focus on infrastructure, both built and natural, and the development of our human potential we would at best be addressing symptoms. Transformational change requires a new thought framework coupled with changed behavior—a new culture. At our most recent workshop, a number of our institutional leaders offered their insights. As the “bones of the community” our institutional leaders, together with thought leaders, create the foundation and the framework upon which we all build. In a world of interdependence, collaboration at the level of action is not enough. We must begin our thinking together, act behind a shared strategy and become a learning community.

Some of the key thoughts:
•The first filter is citizen. Through this lens we all have a responsibility to the whole.
• Know your assignment and get into alignment.
• Maintain focus on what you can achieve with excellence.
• We must lead from a place of understanding how the pieces fit together.
• We must invite people into partnership—government alone is not the solution.
• Our social fabric has remarkably improved. Act with the expectation of cultural change.

Results Shared:
• Grundfos decided to build a research facility in Fresno. Key reason—The Water and Energy Technology Incubator at Fresno State.
• 32% increase in college going rate at FUSD. Key reason—partnership between Fresno State and Fresno Unified.
• Signs of gang activity dropping—Key reason—leveraging law enforcement, social networks and faith-based groups.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 16, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
Our members and partners have already heard about the network of regional leaders that emerged from the Collaborative Regional Initiative (CRI) work that began over a decade ago. This movement championed the notion of three interdependent development spheres (economic, infrastructure and human) that must be advanced together to build prosperous and quality communities. While the work of the network has been described in our bulletin, the voices of our partners and information about their local initiatives have not. In today’s bulletin you will hear about the Economic Development Corporation of L.A. County and Valley Vision in Sacramento. Be inspired. Be hopeful. Get engaged. While on the surface CA is clearly struggling, underneath a new approach is well underway. Old ideas created institutions and systems that simply do not work in today’s reality. Sometimes the answer is to simply let go and begin again.

From the LA County Economic Development Corporation
“We are really pushing hard on the implementation of L.A. County’s consensus Strategic Plan for Economic Development. We recently secured the unanimous endorsements of four of our county’s six regional COGs, representing 79 of L.A. County’s 88 cities, and are expecting all five to come on as implementation champions shortly. On July 14th, the City of Los Angeles unanimously voted to support the plan and directed the City’s Chief Administrative Office to see how the plan’s recommendations can be integrated into the activities of (and supported by) the relevant City departments/agencies.

Most important, we continue to leverage and expand the consensus developed during the planning phase by reaching out to the broader public speaking at events, forums, town hall meetings, etc. not just here in Los Angeles, but up-and-down the state. We continue to “pound the table” on the same overarching message that it is time for us to take responsibility for the health and vibrancy of our communities; we cannot rely only on our public officials/electeds to effectuate the transformational change that is required.
It’s been very exciting b/c what started as just a “plan” really has become a developing grassroots movement to serve and transform our communities. (To check out the plan go to

Valley Vision—“Action Tank” for the Capital Region
Another partner in the regional network is Valley Vision--a vast network of people and organizations dedicated to securing the social, environmental and economic health of the Sacramento Region. The organization serves as a platform to research, plan and problem solve when community challenges require collaborative solutions. As we explore the restoration of the local food system, a continuing focus on agriculture, water and energy, and expand focus into rural communities, Valley Vision’s successful work offers us tools and insights we can build upon. Check out

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
What better time than the dog days of summer to step away from the hectic pace of our lives and take a look at the larger picture. Recently, I learned about a memorial installed on the New Jersey shoreline across from Manhattan honoring those who lost their lives in the Twin Towers tragedy of 9/11, a gift from the Russian people to Americans. I would urge that you check it out. Search for Tear Drop Memorial and read the story. You’ll come away impressed once again that despite all of the hate and violence in our world, there does exist a compassionate core of humanity. You will also come away feeling that in our local efforts, we are an integral part of universal efforts to make our world a better place. May we all be inspired to continue our quest by the aura of the Tear Drop Monument.

Lessons Learned—Collected by the Leadership of Duncan Ceramics

• When we focus on the things that unite us, we can resolve the things that divide us. When we focus on the things that divide us, we destroy those things that can unite us. Thomas Jefferson
• If you can get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you can dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.
• It’s not what you are that holds you back; it’s what you think you are not. Dennis Waitley
• INNOVATION is the foundation to a company’s competitive advantage.
• Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein
• The opposite of excellence is the acceptance of mediocrity.
• Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome. Samuel Johnson
• Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. Henry Ford
• You may be thinking great thoughts, but if you don’t get them across you have failed.
• A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner. English Proverb
• Don’t find fault, find the remedy. Henry Ford
• Be a thermostat, not a thermometer; made it happen, don’t just measure it.
• The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear. William Jennings Bryan
• Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress. Nicholas Murray Butler
• Tough times never last, tough people do. Robert Schuller
• A positive attitude is a magnet for positive results. Author Unknown
• Not failure, but a low aim is a crime. James Russell Lowell
• Change must be accepted as the rule rather than the exception. John Welch, Jr.
• We must first risk going too far if we are ever to know how far we can go.
• Falling isn’t failing unless you fail to get up. Mary Pickford
• Our greatest accomplishments are realized through the help of others. Althea Gibson
• You’ve got to believe it before you see it. Robert Schuller
• Never give up, never give up, never give up. Winston Churchill