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Ode to the Old Office – 2320 Broadway

As Valley Vision staff box up their belongings and prepare for the big move, we took some time to recall our favorite (and not-so-favorite) memories from the office that we’ve called home for 11 years!

Robyn Krock:

  • Bill Mueller wearing a pink wig and riding a unicorn around the parking lot.
  • I will not miss having to wait for trucks blocking the parking lot to move.

Trish Kelly:

  • I have loved all the times we’ve had meetings with community partners and business leaders; federal, state and local policy and legislative leaders; and others who come together to work on creative, cross-cutting regional solutions and projects. There is magic in the collective community and the place that helps make that happen.
  • On the upside, I don’t have to look at bathroom from the conference room.

Evan Schmidt:

  • Sitting in the kitchen for lunch and socializing, team sessions in the conference room with snacks, white board, computers, beverages, the (few) four square games in the parking lot.
  • The glass grinding might be a Stockholm syndrome thing – I will probably miss it terribly in ways I don’t currently understand.

Alan Lange:

  • The dog from the building next door running into our office to hang out, and not wanting to leave. This proved that our dog friendly policy is well established in the canine community.
  • Responding to the burglar alarm in the middle of the night – expecting a false alarm – only to find that we had been broken into. What was stolen? Our microwave. And nothing else. Apparently that breakfast sandwich just couldn’t wait until sun-up.

Meg Arnold:

  • Thinking positively, the fully-open office set VV apart from others, early-on and distinctively. You could say that we’ve had the co-working vibe since at least five years before the term even existed!
  • On the less positive side, the chronic sound of breaking glass from next door.

Bill Mueller:

  • Funny:  Ping pong matches in the office for fun and team building, and designating a “2 pointer” if you were able to hit the ball off Robyn and keep the ball in “play.”  She was a great sport.
  • Poignant:  Taking walk breaks around the neighborhood and passing through the nearby cemetery on Broadway and frequently being reminded of the saying attributed to the Buddha that “The problem is that you think you have time.”

Adrian Rehn:

  • I will never forget being asked to lift Valley Vision’s office dog, Adonis, into Robyn’s car in the parking lot. I squatted down to get my arms underneath him, and my pants promptly split. This would have been bearable if Trish, Evan, and I weren’t at the office until after 9:00 PM that evening to submit our application for the AgPlus IMCP designation!
  • I will not miss the white specks that fall from the ceiling every day. What is that stuff?

We are excited to continue our work in North Oak Park. As of July 9th, Valley Vision will be located at 3400 3rd Avenue in Oak Park. The 2320 Broadway location will be closed from July 4th through the 6th as we move all of our stuff.

Building Stronger Leaders and Regions

“Regional stewards are integrators who cross boundaries of jurisdiction, sector and discipline to address complex regional issues such as sprawl, equity, education and economic development. They see the connections between economic, environmental and social concerns and know how to “connect the dots” to improve their regions.”

 – Alliance for Regional Stewardship, 2006

Regional stewards provide important leadership by pursuing triple bottom line values, including economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, and social equity. The California Stewardship Network (CSN) brings together regional stewards, like Valley Vision, from across California to seed collaborations, share stories, challenges, accomplishments, and, yes, dinners and drinks. These quarterly exchanges have been occurring for nearly 10 years and have created important relationships and collaborations that set the stage for a united vision of triple bottom line values across California.

In early 2017, the group of fifteen regions decided to widen the net, build leadership capacity, and invite a group of young leaders to join a brand new Leadership Fellows program hosted by CSN. I was fortunate to be invited to participate as a Sacramento region representative, along with Maritza Davis of Unseen HeroesLeah Moehle of California Forward, and Patrick Guild of Sacramento Metro Chamber Foundation. We joined about 25 other Fellows to participate in the exchanges in addition to a leadership program uniquely focused on steward, or service-based leadership.

As the 2017 Fellows program comes to an end, here are some of my take aways from the program and the exchanges that I have participated in:

  • Stewardship is humble leadership that is in service to the greater good, and in this case, to triple bottom line values. This interpretation of leadership resonated with me more than any other that I have heard and has provided an aspirational vision for how to approach work and life.
  • Relationships, relationships, relationships – the key to getting cool things done is building relationships. That’s why dinner and drinks is important – you aren’t surprised are you? The cohort approach helped foster these relationships.
  • Grappling with complexity – in our latest exchange, June 27-29 in Ventura, we were given the time and open format to discuss hard questions. For example, we grappled with how automation will impact the workforce, and meandered from the importance of skill-based job descriptions to preserving the values and qualities that create meaning in people’s lives. This ranging conversation brought about new perspectives for all of us, which in turn created deeper understanding into an important and complex conversation. We need this kind of time and nuance in our age of sound bites and memes.
  • Cross generational dialogue – as a Gen Xer sandwiched between two generations that take up a lot of air in the room (Boomers and Millennials, you know who you are), I know the importance of cross-generational learning. Respectfully, Millennials need to learn and Boomers need to cede some of their power. Just saying. Fortunately, CSN created dialogue and safe space for leaders to explore how to support each other across generations.
  • Regions are where it’s at – It’s easy to get frustrated, or even depressed, about statewide or national policy. Working from the ground-up, sharing successes and failures, and creating spaces, like the CSN exchanges, where leaders share a commitment to stewardship and a vision for the future of California, sets a hopeful path.

CSN has invested in the future leadership of California by bringing new leaders into the fold. Having now spent a year gathering with new and not-as-new leaders through the exchanges, I feel confident that CSN’s investment will seed stewardship values for many years to come. CSN will soon be recruiting new Fellows for next year’s class – I look forward to continuing to work with CSN and to helping usher in a new group of Fellows, strengthening the stewardship network and building new leaders across the state.

Evan Schmidt is Valley Vision’s Director of Strategy and Evaluation working on the Public Opinion Surveying initiative and projects in the Healthy Communities and 21st Century Workforce strategy areas.

Place Matters

Does place matter any more?  It’s a hard question to answer at first.

Research shows that regardless of whether you are rich or poor, virtually everyone has a smart phone today.  It’s today’s essential lifeline.  Having a fast and reliable Internet connection is another matter, but most of us can get online from  almost anywhere.  Anytime.  Day or night.  We are completely mobile and connected, 24×7.  So it really shouldn’t matter where we are, right?

In fact, place matters more than ever.

While technology can make us feel globally connected and empowered in one moment, in the next we live with the consequences of being permanently “tethered,” unable to escape its web.  At once, it is a very connected yet very solitary “place.”  As technology continues to advance and lines blur between “virtual” and “real,” let’s not forget an essential truth.

Where we truly connect is in physical spaces.

Words that describe certain touchstone places like “home,” “office,” or “school” stir up powerful emotions in us.  Some places bring us calm and refuge.  Others we associate with regimen and productivity.  Still others inspire us and connect us to something larger.

As many of you know, Valley Vision just moved into a new “place” this week.  A single story building in Oak Park in the heart of Sacramento and the Greater Sacramento region.  3400 3rd Avenue, to be precise.

After just a few days working from here I can tell you that place absolutely matters.  While we loved our old office on Broadway, this space is even livelier, with better energy and more places to connect.  There are bright colors on the walls.  Light streaming in from long windows.  Views out on homes and businesses and people and bikes and  dogs going by.  And let’s not forget the new Ping-Pong table in the middle of the office.  It has already brought together former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and Ruben, our communications intern, in a fun match up.

This is what place does.  It creates memorable, one-of-a-kind experiences.  Humanizing connections we all want.  This is pretty important for an organization like Valley Vision that is constantly seeking out ways to unite our region and improve lives.  We are thankful that we have an even better place to do this work from today.

Come by and play a game.  We hope to see you soon.

Bill Mueller was Chief Executive of Valley Vision.