Civic Revolutionaries and a New Era of Community Business

In 2003, the book Civic Revolutionaries: Igniting the Passion for Change in America's Communities expanded on John W. Gardner’s ideologies about leadership and community. The authors, who were mentored by Gardner, highlight transformative stories from several regions across the United States who are tackling their issues locally. By taking responsibility for the tough social and economic issues we face on a regional level, and by applying a systems approach and focusing on social, economic and environmental development simultaneously, we can have significantly deeper and lasting impact. This bottom-up approach, the authors argue, is not only significant in taking action to develop and support our own communities, but may be the only way we can push reform all the way to the federal level.

“Leaders must not only have their own commitments, they must move the rest of us toward commitment. They call us to the sacrifices necessary to reach our goals. They do not ask more than the community can give, but often ask more than it intended to give or thought it possible to give.”

– John W. Gardner, On Leadership

What is Stewardship?

Stewardship fosters a sustainability ethos – its highest aim is cultural endurance. It holds common values and a shared vision for a community as its highest priority, and works tirelessly to ensure this work and its principles are carried on by generations to come, working with and passing the torch to emerging leaders.

Aristotle’s words, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” embodies the philosophy of stewardship. Stewards think in terms of “we” rather than “I.” This principle creates synergy - the magic that can only come from the recognition of our inter-connectedness and in working together to achieve things we cannot achieve alone.

Developing Stewards

The Fresno Business Council is part of the California Stewardship Network, an alliance of regional leaders across California committed to sharing Promising Practices to spark innovation and responsible planning of resources in each region and collectively as a state.

As part of their ongoing commitment, CSN has developed the Becky Morgan Stewardship Fellowship program. The fellowship’s inaugural class will kick off this May, and we are proud to have a Fresno fellow in the program.

Throughout the year-long fellowship, the participants will be learning the principles of stewardship from the organization’s members, having opportunities to explore community-based work focused on large-scale impact in other regions around the state. The fellows and network members will convene around the state several times over the course of the program and focus on workforce development and diversity and inclusion, among other pervasive social challenges facing our regions and state.

FBC is committed to continuing this process of fostering the next generation of steward leaders within our own community as well, engaging emerging leaders and spreading the principles of stewardship.

Our Partners


"Becoming a community steward involves working alongside others, taking the time to understand how the community works and sharing one’s highest-level skills to achieve a common agenda. Most have been deeply changed by the experience."

– Deborah J. Nankivell, Bugle Call: Stewardship is Serious Business