Volume I, Issue 3 - September-October 2000
SPECIAL CIVIC ENTREPRENEUR SUMMIT ISSUE
On September 17-19 2000, in Huntington Beach, California, CCRL convened the 4th Annual Civic Entrepreneur Summit for the leaders of California's nineteen Collaborative Regional Initiatives. Our first Summit visit to Orange County, the event was co-hosted by the Orange County Business Council and the Orange County Community Foundation, and supported by The James Irvine Foundation.
Noted California historian and State Librarian Kevin Starr in his closing Summit speech likened the group, and this grassroots movement, to the extraordinary civic renewal that became known as the Progressive movement at the turn of the last century. The 142 Summit participants come away motivated and challenged to live up to that judgment. They will no doubt take as inspiration the example of the two recipients of the 2000 Civic Entrepreneur of the Year Award: David Abel, volunteer leader of the Metropolitan Forum Project, and Bill Allen, former President and continuing Board member of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley.
Highlights of the Summit follow. Video and written reports from the Summit will be included in CCRL's "State of the Regions" report, which will be distributed at the end of this year.
TELLING THE REGIONAL STORY
Question: How do we establish working partnerships with the media, particularly the print media in our regions, to help our neighbors understand the important regional issues we face, and how we and they can adopt regional strategies to address them?
Chris Andersen, Publisher of the Orange County Register called on the state's regional newspapers to take on a "stewardship" role, to cover the news objectively of course, but to understand and report on the breadth and depth of regional issues in a manner that encourages citizen involvement.
The leadership of the San Jose Mercury News (Jay Harris, Publisher; Rob Elder, Vice President and Editor, and David Yarnold, Managing Editor) presented that paper's philosophy of adopting a "master narrative" for the region, thereby framing the news in a serious, intentional, and visionary regional context. Becky Morgan, founder of Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network, observed that this approach made it possible, over time, for Joint Venture and the "Merc-News" to co-venture in presenting a regional vision to residents/readers.
A dozen journalists, including publishers, editors and working reporters from throughout the state, participated in this year's event.
CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY SPEAKER BOB HERTZBERG'S NEW "SPEAKER'S COMMISSION ON REGIONS" (SCOR)
Question: How can the state government encourage and support regional collaboration among local governments, and between local and state government and regional civic organizations, or, what's the SCOR?
Speaker Hertzberg, who believes deeply that regional strategies can help Californians to address may of our most critical challenges, announced the formation of the Speaker's Commission on Regions, which over the next year will engage thousands of Californians in a dialogue about the more effective alignment of state and local government policies and practices along the lines of regional collaboration (NOT necessarily regional government,, he emphasized), and bring back to him and other state government leaders ideas and recommendations for action. The Speaker asked CCRL President Nick Bollman to Chair the Commission.
"THE DOUBLE BOTTOM LINE:" THE EVOLVING, PRAGMATIC VISION OF STATE TREASURER PHIL ANGELIDES
Question: How can California advance the idea of sustainable development and close the gap between rich and poor, at the same time?
Treasurer Angelides presented the highlights of his new report, "The Double Bottom Line," asserting that by discovering and investing in the state's "emerging markets" financial institutions can make a reasonable return on investment and help develop, revitalize, and stabilize California's poorest communities. Angelides outlined the numerous ways in which he has already used the tools and programs of his office, as well as his Board membership on public employee pension funds, to direct billions of dollars of investment toward sustainable development and urban revitalization. He also announced a new partnership with CCRL to develop the "21st Century Fund," a new below-market real estate fund targeted on the niche markets of California's low-income and urban and rural communities.
CALIFORNIA' S "INFRASTRUCTURE:" HOUSING, TRANSPORTATION, URBAN REINVESTMENT, SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION, OPEN SPACE/HABITAT, AND "SMART GROWTH"
Question: How can the state and local government, regional civic organizations, and the private and nonprofit sectors work more effectively to accommodate projected population growth, stay economically competitive, increase opportunities for shared prosperity for all, and maintain California's quality of life?
In a series of forums and workshops devoted to this subject, Summit participants explored innovative regional and inter-regional partnerships; state policy reforms, including those governing state-local finance and infrastructure planning and investment; and regional-neighborhood strategies to ensure that "smart growth" is "fair growth," i.e., stabilizes neighborhoods rather than displacing low-income and working families. Governor' Gray Davis's Director of Policy Tal Finney called attention to the forthcoming report of the Governor's Commission on Building for the 21st Century, which should be a platform for substantial regional dialogue on innovative and responsible planning and investment strategies to meet California's broad array of future infrastructure needs.
Summit participants received a new CCRL paper, "Informed Regional Choices: How California's Regional Organizations are Applying Planning and Decision Tools," which calls for the establishment of the California Alliance for Regional Information Technologies. CARIT would assist regional and local civic and public sector organizations to select and use these tools more effectively, including interactive websites; visualization tools; spatial analysis tools, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS); simulation; groupware and collaboration tools, including "Community Indicator Reports;" and multimedia resource centers. The paper is available on request.
WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: MEETING THE "HUMAN INFRASTRUCTURE" NEEDS OF CALIFORNIA'S BUSINESSES AND WORKERS
Question: How can the state's workforce development systems meet the needs of workers to participate in the dynamic and demanding new California economy and the needs of businesses to have a continuing supply of qualified workers?
CRIs are in the forefront of innovative thinking about regional workforce development systems, and Tal Finney encouraged Summit participants to look to the California Workforce Investment Board as a promising vehicle for new, effective policy direction from the state. A recent CCRL paper on this subject, "Building a Workforce for the 21st Century," is available on request.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND NEW LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Question: How do we encourage and support more Californians to get involved in the future of their communities, and especially how do we connect young Californians to the institutions and process of a civil, democratic society?
Summit participants heard about the work of CRIs in partnership with the California 2000 Project, a project of the William and Flora Hewlett and James Irvine foundations to support policy research and public education on fiscal, governance, and land use issues. Visit www.C2Kproject.org. They also heard from representatives of this summer's class of Sustainable Communities Leadership fellows, placed at 8 CRIs to work on a wide variety of sustainable development projects. A project of the Environmental Careers Organization, SCLP provides stipends, networking, and leadership training to young professionals interested in careers in the "sustainability" field. Visit www.eco.org/SCLP.
Question: How do the Board and staff of CCRL feel about the extraordinary contributions of speakers, presenters, and participants at this year's Civic Entrepreneur Summit?
Well, let's just say that we are still bathed in a warm "Orange" glow, and, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, it's not the glow of a great California sunset, but the glow of a magnificent California civic sunrise.
THANKS FOR VISITING CALREGIONS!