Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 27, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
…and so we prepare to say goodbye to another year and welcome in a new one. It bodes to be a year that holds within it an opportunity for all of us to join ever closer together on an ever widening pathway leading to a better tomorrow for all among us. Our degree of success will depend upon our commitment to each other. We must continue to broaden our vision of what we can accomplish as a united community. Philosophical extremism and personality issues are being exposed as counterproductive. Soon those who employ them to keep us fragmented will be overlooked. They are being replaced by effective leadership arising from stewardship-focused individuals and organizations, locally, regionally and statewide. The New Year holds great promise for this region because of this emerging aura of creative collaboration. In that spirit, I wish everyone a harmonious and prosperous New Year.

Looking Back—Two Major Reports Issued in 2000
In 2000, the Great Valley Center released two seminal reports, The Economic Future of the San Joaquin Valley and the Survey of Current Area Needs (SCAN) that struck a chord and mighty response in Fresno. With the assistance of the James Irvine Foundation and in kind support from Fresno State and the Fresno Business Council, the Fresno Area Collaborative Regional Initiative was launched. Similar efforts were initiated across the state as part of a network of regions seeking to address critical economic, social and environmental issues comprehensively. From this platform, two more focused efforts were launched: the Regional Jobs Initiative and the Human Investment Initiative to address job creation and human development. Many specific projects and a wide range of clusters have led to an impressive list of results. In addition, we have learned through experimentation how to apply a new type of thinking (holistic) to complex challenges helping to align siloed efforts and leverage existing resources. 2011 holds the promise of scale and acceleration.

Key Messages From the Economic Strategy
The new economy is innovative, fast, global, knowledge-based, networked and technology intensive. Our challenge is a shift from competing primarily on low-cost to an economy based upon innovation, resilience and diversification. The key recommendations and our community’s response:
• Develop networks of regional leaders (California Partnership for the SJV)
• Create cluster networks (Regional Jobs Initiative)
• Develop an innovative workforce (CART, align workforce with clusters)
• Focus technology on innovation in all clusters
(Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship)
• Support entrepreneurship (Lyles Center, Central Valley Business Incubator)
Along with responses to specific recommendations, we have developed a new culture. Where once collaboration was a noun, today it is all verb and expected.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December 13, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
I’d like to share an experience I had last week flying home from Portland, Oregon, in late afternoon. It was raining hard when we departed. After half an hour or so I looked out the window and saw the onset of an inspiring sunset. My first reaction was: “I am back in sunny California.” Then I realized that the reason I was enjoying the beautiful gold and red horizon was because we were flying above the clouds. Transpose those thoughts into what our community is accomplishing by working together. We have raised our collective vision of how high we must set our goals and what course we must take to attain them. Together we seek to bask in the sunshine above the clouds that oftentimes obscure it. Simply expressed, we are becoming recognized as transformational meteorologists.

Spirit of Barn Raising Rising Across California—Citizens Are Leading
At a recent meeting of regional stewards from across California, it was clear that a renewed commitment to personal and community responsibility is well underway.

Los Angeles
At last year’s meeting, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation told of us their effort to engage over 1,050 people across every sector to create their first comprehensive plan to strengthen the economy, improve the environment and invigorate communities. This year, they talked about their execution mantra—“It’s time for everyone to take responsibility for our communities and to be the change.” Their goal is to unify the entire county behind 5 goals essential for regional health. In The Guide: Los Angeles County, every city explains its plan to achieve the goals locally. The goals are:
• Preparing an educated workforce
• Creating a business-friendly environment
• Enhancing the quality of life
• Implementing smart land use
• Building a 21st century infrastructure

In Butte the community and educational sites are teaming up to insure that every child who needs one has a tutor to help achieve specific goals that are monitored monthly. “Tutoring is the back-up plan—quality parenting is the best solution.” Citizens are transforming the chaos around many schools into safe communities. Lesson Learned: Independence leads to interdependence at maturity. Dependence leads to codependence precluding maturity.

Four Spheres Approach Creating a New Culture
Similar goals with the same theme of personal responsibility are part of regional strategies across the state. All share the same civic DNA, a four spheres approach to transformational change that recognizes the interdependence of critical issues and the post partisan nature of durable solutions. As politics follow culture, it is up to communities to be the change they wish to see in politics and elected officials. A unified strategy provides an antidote to fragmented and aggressive single interests.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 6, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
Does it seem to you that December is a month of introspection in our lives? It does to me. More and more a great portion of that inward analysis is centered on this Council’s wise decision to base our actions upon the Statement of Community Values of the Fresno Region. Such a position demands introspection in determining how those values contribute to the personal and organizational conduct of our affairs. One of the strongest of these values is “Boundary Crossing and Collaboration – we are willing to cross political, social, ethnic and economic boundaries and partner with others to achieve community outcomes.” The old “I’m right, therefore you’re wrong” attitude has been relegated to the trash can. Supporting this code of conduct is The Fourth Sphere helps us think as stewards of the whole—a prerequisite to the ability cross boundaries. We are learning to think and act as a people-centered collaborative community. That’s a thought worth thinking about at this time of the year.

Looking Back; Looking Forward—Deborah Nankivell
Some of you know that Dick (Richard Johanson) has written two books, A Passion for Stewardship: The Legacy of a Generation and Just a Thought: Reflections on Civic Transformation. As the president during our formative years and chair emeritus ever since, his messages carried in our bulletin and shared with those who have the privilege of working as his colleagues, are like the rudder on a sailboat. He remembers “why” and has the courage to remind others. We have learned much about what it takes to achieve community transformation over the past 17 years. The most important lesson is insuring that stewards are leading—those that remember why. Sustainable effort requires passion and a commitment to something greater than oneself. Many have said the WWII generation remembered something those following have forgotten—the price of freedom, the importance of community and that adversity builds character.

Infrastructure Sphere
At our upcoming board meeting the Infrastructure, Land Use and Transportation Task Force, chaired by Dick Johanson, will be offering their report and recommendations. In April of 1998, the Growth Alternatives Alliance issued A Landscape of Choice: Strategies for Improving Patterns of Community Growth. At this time, collaboration was considered bold. The Alliance included unexpected partners—Fresno County Farm Bureau, Fresno Chamber of Commerce, American Farmland Trust, the Building Industry Association and the Fresno Business Council. At the time, the leaders of these organizations recognized that working together was in both their self and collective self-interest. This sphere, largely the province of government, requires a broadly supported community agenda and steward leaders in order to deliver projects that can take over a decade to complete, well past the terms of most elected officials.