I Stand For Carolyn. Shifting the Local Narrative to the Real Priority.

Nov 3, 2012

This week members of  The Children’s Movement of Fresno helped to rally citizens throughout the city of Fresno in a push for the chance to compete for $37.3 million in the DOE’s Race for the Top grant for schools.  In a video petition urging the Fresno Unified School District and the Fresno Teachers Association to put children first, members spoke out on the need to set aside differences, come back to the table to find agreement and submit the application. “The deadline had come and gone and they couldn’t agree.  Then a miracle, thanks to the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy and suddenly we had another week.  We needed to do everything we could with the extra time to show how much this meant to the community of Fresno” said Linda Gleason.

“We knew we needed a creative way to show the range of our members and their passion for making children the priority” says Brandon Wright, Executive Director of Youth Empowerment Studios.  Wright’s organization under Gleason’s direction, was responsible for the production of the video petition which was designed and executed in under 36 hours.

The Children’s Movement of Fresno is committed to informing the political, business, civic leaders, parents and people of Fresno county, about the issues effecting  children — and encourage them to make the well-being and education of their children their highest priority, including in the way they invest their public resources.  In less than one year, their membership is just under 3,000 and growing daily.  To join, visit their website here.

The Children’s Movement Urges FUSD and the FTA to Put Children First

Hope. The Oxygen of Human Societies.

Oct 9, 2011

The Secular Prophet , an article published this weekend in the Wall Street Journal after the passing of Steve Jobs, shapes an important conversation about the reality of our desperate need for hope as a human society. Mr. Crouch who is the editor-at-large of Christianity Today Magazine provides a context for considering the secular and non-secular or faith based perspectives. He illustrated how Mr. Job’s Apple became a religion of hope in a hopeless world and by comparison how the hope born of faith brings peace, purpose AND the promise to transcend this lifetime, taking you to the promised land.  

It has been said that human beings can live for 40 days without food, four days without water and four minutes without air but, they can not live four seconds without hope. 

Hope is a virtue, not mere optimism and it, more than anything else, is what bridges those of us who believe in heaven and those who don’t. It is our common denominator.  I love the reality that among the many, many contributions Steve Jobs made on this earth that will have changed it forever, sparking this conversation was one of them.

Learning from Starfish

Jun 6, 2009

I’ve been working inside of at risk neighborhoods on and off for 10 years.  In the beginning it was about my fascination with the wisdom, survival strategies and the humility of the resident leadership I was meeting.  I was developing my own perspective of why we’ve been asked to go out among the poor. For me there was no shortage of valuable life lessons.  Later it became about partnering with the leadership from these neighborhoods to develop organizations that are sustainable and can scale their efforts. 

I  first met Rod Beckstrom 3 years ago.  We talked about his recent book, The Starfish and The Spider, Web site: http// www.starfishandspider.com. He and his associate Ori Brafman created a fantastic read on how decentralized organizations are changing the face of business and society~that like starfish, these decentralized organizations without a form of central command, are becoming one of our greatest global opportunities and challenges.  You see, starfish are made up of cells that are networked.  For the starfish to move, one of the arms must convince the other arms to move.  There is no one person in charge.  Furthermore, if you cut off the arm of a starfish, it will grow back.  If you cut off all of the arms of a starfish, they will all grow back.  The book highlights how the internet has become a breeding ground for leaderless organizations, how the Apaches managed to fend off the Spanish army for two hundred years and how organizations like AA have thrived and met the needs of millions with only a shared ideology and without a leader.  

 Our country is most familiar with centralized institutions and organizations.  Our culture has grown up with a hierarchy of power that has shaped our paridigm for designing structures, systems and strategies to effectively compete or conquer an enemy.  Our focus is largely on  the executive leadership. 

 What happens when that leadership isn’t centralized?

My frame of reference quickly went to what I’ve learned about the decentralized business model gangs employ to grow sustainable organizations within our society.  I believe they are our country’s biggest competitor when you begin to approach restoring and building communities that have become burdened with significant poverty statistics.  Without getting into the discussion of inclusion, or lack thereof, those of us in the business of community building spend countless time and brainpower trying to conceive of an organizational structure and approach to addressing poverty that will work.  What we haven’t given enough thought to is that the decentralized structure of gangs is working, and working incredibly well. Today, gangs are meeting the felt needs of our most vulnerable youth, recruiting them to join, providing for them, influencing their life habits, empowering and equipping them to lead and building  loyalty that sustains relationships. They are self organizing, provide equal access, connections and ’skin in the game’ for their membership. What if we were doing as good of a job building networks of people inside of at risk communities that were influencing their membership for the common good?   

In Fresno California, the Fresno Street Saints, Web site http://www.fresnostreetsaints.org are doing just that and are leveraging the wisdom, talent and skills of the residents themselves to build them.

Practical Wisdom

May 27, 2009

I watched a great video of Barry Schwartz’s talk at the Ted conference on our loss of wisdom in this country.  He defines practical wisdom as the combination of moral will and moral skill – the will to do right by other people and the skill to figure out how to do what is right.  His perspective was primarily related to corporate America and our bureaucracies.  I’m finding that we have a ton of practical wisdom inside of our most disenfranchised communities.  I learn so much from so many people I am getting to know.  They are just horribly disconnected.  Here is the link to Barry’s talk:


So one of my new friends in the community wrote to me this morning in reply to my email to her:

Marie wrote:

“Like i said before many people don’t even turn their heads for people like us, but you showed us a different side. Even though we’re still trying to hold on to the good positive ways you present to us we will still believe that The Almighty has His hand on us and many others. So we thank you and all the people involved for acknowledging us and if we can be of service please call. We’re willing to help as much as possible. Thanks again!”

Manuel and Maria
Manuel and Maria

We can’t miss people like Marie and her husband Manuel…..

I don’t want to miss them.

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