Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18, 2011

Implications of SC2—Smart Cities, Smart Communities
What would it look like if local communities decided what they wanted and came up with the most effective way to make it happen? As every community is unique, a customized approach rather than one size fits all, makes sense. What if adaption to changing circumstances was built into the strategy and the opportunity to align resources of multiple agencies behind one plan became the norm? What if leaders in every sphere—economy, environment and equity (the 3 E’s) understood the priority strategies of their colleagues and worked together effectively? What if the people who work in the various sectors understood interdependence and looked for ways to share resources to achieve the goals everyone wants—prosperity, safe neighborhoods, an educated and engaged citizenry, vibrant health and a widely shared community pride. SC2 offers us these opportunities and more. The choice of engagement is ours. We can act like a spectator and point at government or we can take responsibility as citizens and realize it is merely the reflection of us—fragmented. As a stand-up commented, “Blaming government is like yelling at your computer when the problem is in the software."

Vertical Integration—Bottom Up/Top Down
If you think of the neighborhoods and the federal government as two poles far apart, what would happen if they had direct communication with one another? Rather than going through channels—layer after layer of systems—SC2 offers direct access. As many resources make a stop at the state and the county before reaching communities, it is not surprising so many programs are ineffective and necessary infrastructure is so extensive to build. Triangulation is unhealthy. Direct communication works.

Fresno Is In a Unique Situation
Because of the Obama Administration’s confidence in Mayor Swearengin and the evidence of our ten year effort to build a strong civic infrastructure, we have an opportunity to take a quantum leap forward. Success will impact our community, our region and the state because our many colleagues will learn alongside. Everyone engaged in community transformation wants this experiment to work. It’s up to all of us to learn, figure out how to help, and engage.

The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods

Reading the same books has been a powerful tool for building teams and communicating. Good to Great, Civic Revolutionaries: Igniting the Passion for Change in America’s Communities, Leave No Child Behind, Reinventing Government and many more….all have influenced our experiment in self-governance. Thanks to the hard work of the Smart Valley Places team, John McKnight and Peter Block will be coming to Fresno in November. McKnight is the inspiration behind our Asset-Based Approach community value and Block has written extensively about stewardship, community and transformational change. I encourage you to read their new book—The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods. It is happening in Fresno. Like Apollo 13, we turned to one another, worked with what we had, and committed ourselves to community transformation. Others are noticing.

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