Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 31, 2011

Reflections from the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
The longer we refine pathways that can strengthen our relationships, the more a single concept unites us in our discussions--Stewardship. This region has become widely known for its perseverance in promoting our innovative Four Spheres Approach to addressing critical issues based upon our statement of community values. Major foundations are becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities available for a more measurable return on their investments by funding public service organizations operating under the banner of Stewardship.Two months from now will see the start of a new year.It is my hope that throughout the community individuals renew their commitment to working together as stewards of the whole—one community aimed at prosperity and wellbeing.

Abundant Communities, Indeed!
When the idea of convening over 800 people from the San Joaquin Valley to spend a day with nationally regarded authors John McKnight and Peter Block, it sounded implausible. Yet, nearly a month before the event—November 16—it was overbooked with over 80 cohorts of 10 people. Participants have agreed to read the book Abundant Communities, develop action plans and put them into action. In 2000, when the Great Valley Center issued a report assessing our challenges, lack of connection, competitiveness and capacity were the key themes. Many rose to the challenge. We developed industry clusters, new platforms for action like the Lyles Center and multiple institutes at Fresno State, two incubators, CART, and the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley. We learned how to collaborate and align resources. Our educational partners worked with employers to insure students are prepared for careers and life challenges. Using a shared set of values we have developed relationships horizontally and vertically. We have become a prepared and investment worthy community. Evidence? The White House designated the City of Fresno as a Strong City, Strong Community experiment and last week the James Irvine Foundation committed $3 million dollars to the Fresno Regional Foundation, due to its significant increase in capacity.

Flourish—We Have Found the Solution and It Is Us
When the Mental Health Cluster set out to better understand the challenges in this arena, it didn’t take long to realize many of the solutions could only be found in the community. The Fresno Flourish Initiative is based upon this premise. Research has determined that behavioral change is largely dependent upon personal commitment, role models, peer support and environmental conditions. As upwards of 75% of health conditions are lifestyle related and adherence to prescribed protocols is under 50%, the answer to the health care crisis clearly is not within the industry, it is in us. Flourish is based upon an internal Kaiser Permanente strategy to improve the health and well-being of their employees. Institutions and individuals are stepping up to take the pledge.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 24, 2011

Reflections from the Chair Emeritus—Dick Johanson
As you read what Deborah has written below, I would urge you to mentally put yourself back in a school classroom once again. To me the key word in the entire educational process is “relativity”. Nothing is more boring than staring at a text book preparing for a written test on an academic subject that will be significantly forgotten soon thereafter. However, tying in the subject matter to a future career changes the entire learning process. Then “motivation” comes into play. When a student becomes motivated to learn teachers become partners and an all too common resistance to an academic education falls away. In short, in this person’s opinion, vocational education needs to resume its rightful place with academia in the relativity of our educational structure.

The Innovative University
Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Prescription, and Disrupting Class, has co-authored a new book, The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out. As a professor of innovation at Harvard’s Business School, his life work involves deep reflection about critical issues and the seed thoughts that give rise to existing systems and structures. Disruptive innovations are impacting every sector as the pace of change has accelerated and resilience, creativity and adaptability have become essential life skills. Is it possible to embrace change by building upon strengths and letting go of what simply doesn’t work anymore with an eye to minimizing economic dislocation? His latest book speaks to a customized future that meets the needs of a far larger population of students and the diverse communities in which they live. The authors also underscore the importance of shared values to insure a deeper context in which knowledge develops.

Shared Responsibility for Workforce Preparation
Considerable progress has been made at Fresno Unified to prepare career ready graduates. In 2008, FUSD launched a commission on Workforce Readiness and Career Technical Education to determine how to scale and accelerate toward their goal. The report is available at Thanks to the sponsorship of Heald College, there will be two career nights in October to connect students to the pathways and educate their families about them. There are 25 Career Readiness Pathway Programs representing 14 industry sectors offered across Fresno Unified. These programs expand student understanding of the world of work and identify career pathways and specific occupations within them. By working together on economic and human development, we can align strategies to succeed in both. While knowledge workers are essential to a prosperous economy, restoring pathways for craftsman, artisans and technicians of all sorts is equally important. As explained by Michael Crawford, “Craftsmanship entails learning to do one thing really well, while the ideal of the new economy is to be able to learn new things, celebrating potential rather than achievement.”

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October 15, 2001

Community Values—A Contract for Behavior in the Civic Sector
At our recent board meeting, Richard Johanson shared his thoughts on one of our community values. This regular practice sets the tone and reminds us our responsibilities as citizens. The value he addressed was Commitment to Outcomes—We are willing to take responsibility for tasks and achieving specified outcomes. We are committed to staying involved until the task is completed. “The other nine values lose some of their importance apart from their connection to their ultimate purpose—a commitment to making better things happen in our own lives and that of our extended community.” As one of the eight founders of the Fresno Business Council, Dick pointed to the journey we have been on from concept to reality. While clearly we continue to face many challenges, the impact is visible. In 1993, concepts like collaboration, sustainability, asset-based approach, and power parity were foreign. We were busy addressing symptoms in siloes and blaming those who today are valued partners in community transformation.

Stewardship & Citizenship Pipelines—Sustainable Civic Infrastructure
A better future is a shared responsibility. Citizens are responsible to the whole and stewards, those with positional authority, are responsible collectively for the whole. Self-reliance and collective action are two major strands of the DNA of American citizens. In order to foster these values, we have a new partnership with Fresno Unified. Student leaders from the various high schools will attend our board meetings to learn about the community business and hear a value presented. They will present what they learned at a school board meeting and back at their site student councils. In reverse, FBC members will have an opportunity to attend student meetings to learn from them and report what they learned to the FBC board. Effective communication runs both ways.

Student Leaders From Cambridge High School Attend FBC Board Meeting
The academic and civic progress at Cambridge High School is inspiring and the sense of community pride in the students and staff palpable. The staff provide holistic services and support, recognizing that many of the students face personal and family barriers making success more challenging. The expected learning results for all students reflect the values of both the students and the staff:
• Problem Solvers (ability to identify and resolve problems)
• Responsible Citizens
• Informed Citizens
• Demonstrators (competence in all academic areas)

Inspiring News from the Fair

Deb Cohen reported that the community came together this week and bringing in 54 tons of food breaking our own national record from last year of 51.7 tons of food. 235 volunteers helped collect, sort and load the semi-trucks. It was hot but there was an amazing show of support. The Fair leadership launched a the first ever 4.0 & Above program where all Fresno County high school students with a 4.0 or better were provided free entrance to the Fair and an enter-to-win ticket for a car and assorted prizes. A junior from Sanger High won the car and her principal told Deb that it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving student. These are terrific examples of how improving academic performance and supporting students is everybody’s business and the power of collective action.