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.