Stanislaus County project brings new methods, people together | Modesto Bee

Hot lead from the Modesto Bee leads to the Leading Systems Change book and detailed links to resources –


A toolkit for 21st century social change

What’s Inside

This workbook is broken down into nine different chapters. These chapters are intentionally designed to help provoke thought and facilitate discussion for many different types of system change concepts. The first four chapters tell of the who, why and how of this book. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 educate about the Arc of Learning. The remaining chapters discuss how to take the knowledge, resources and tools you have as a leader or funder and to put it to action.



Source: Stanislaus County project brings new methods, people together | Modesto Bee


How Post-Its, Macklemore and design are helping build a better Modesto

Jaylen French and Bob Barzan brainstorming ideas at Designing the Future of Stanislaus County on Sept. 27 at Greens on Tenth.  MFIGUEROA@MODBEE.COM

What do Post-It notes, Macklemore and design have to do with making the valley better?

More than you might realize, according to a new book focused on the ways the Central Valley — particularly Stanislaus County — is tackling its most complicated problems. Government, business and community leaders gathered in downtown Modesto to discuss the new workbook, “Leading Systems Change,” Friday afternoon and learn from its methods.

The session highlighted the work of the New Leadership Network, a four-year, $1.5 million project from The James Irvine Foundation that seeks to train and develop emerging leaders. Stanislaus County was selected to host one of the networks, along with Fresno.

About 50 people were part of the local network, ranging from members of municipal government, law enforcement, nonprofits, businesses, educators and more.

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“It’s not often we have a book really written about our community,” said Marian Kaanon, President/CEO of the Stanislaus Community Foundation which is the network’s local operating partner. “It is nice to see our community represented in the way we know it and live it.”

The goal of the group is to harness creative ideas from a diverse range of people, and use that to spawn new ideas to address problems or bring innovations to a community.

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Thomas Both, Director of Designing for Social Systems at the Stanford, addresses the room at Designing the Future of Stanislaus County on Sept. 27 at Greens on Tenth. Maria Figueroa MFIGUEROA@MODBEE.COM

Which is where the Post-Its come in. Some 50 people took part in the events, which used the “show, don’t tell”-method of discussing the New Leadership Network’s methods.

So as part of the event the audience got up out of their seats to brainstorm, with Post-It notes, on blank boards posing three open-ended topics. They were about creating ways to boost who feels included in public spaces, creating ways to inspire creative confidence in each other, and creating ways to tell our county’s story as inspirational and inclusive.

Questions and thoughts were then scrawled onto Post-Its and discussed. In Stanislaus County, those mass brainstorms have led to a few real-world projects already.

They include the Glorious Modesto project, which was inspired by Seattle rapper Macklemore’s music video “Glorious” which was filmed in and around Modesto with his grandmother, who lives here. The civic self-esteem effort includes T-shirts and postcards with funds used to support creative projects in the city.

“It’s about telling a different story about Stanislaus County. It’s about changing the perception of residents and mobilizing them to share better stories,” said Reggie Rucker, who is part of the network and works for the Downtown Modesto Partnership. “If a superstar can have that much joy in a single day in Modesto, who are we to not feel glorious about Modesto?”

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Amanda Hughes, Program Director for the Stanislaus Community Foundation, discusses ideas with group at Designing the Future of Stanislaus County on Sept. 27 at Greens on Tenth. Maria Figueroa MFIGUEROA@MODBEE.COM

The Modesto Design Collective (MO.DE), another community partner with the network, discussed the way design can be used to shape and change public perception. The Stanford d. School hosted some of workshops for network members. MO.DE just finished hosting Modesto Architecture & Design Week (MADWEEK), celebrating the region’s architecture and design.

“Collaborating on complicated issues with people we don’t work with everyday, that’s the secret sauce,” said New Leadership Network Program Director Adene Sacks.

For participants and network members like Lee Davis, who lives in Modesto and works as the co-director for the Center for Social Design at Maryland Institute College of Art, the experience is already having an impact.

“It fundamentally changes how a lot of us think about ourselves as change makers in the community,” he said.