Mission: possible

Jeff vonKaenel

“There’s no place like home,” Dorothy said after she completed her “study mission” to Oz.

Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Pat Fong Kushida, along with the Sacramento-based Valley Vision, tend to agree.

Study missions offer participants unique exposure to diverse cultural and business practices, usually in far-flung locations across the world. However, this particular mission was centered right here in Sacramento.

It makes perfect sense, considering the national attention Sacramento and local organizations have been receiving for their successful programs, particularly in the area of building a sustainable community.

Our 100-member delegation took a tour that included all of the highlights of the various programs that are taking off in Sacramento, such as the Sacramento Area Council of Governments’ regional growth Blueprint (which received front-page accolades from The Wall Street Journal), the successful development of McClellan Air Force Base, the tremendous research capacity of UC Davis, the huge potential of our rail yards, the nationally leading work of Pride Industries aiding those with disabilities, the possibility of Regional Transit providing a real alternative to the automobile—the list goes on!

Despite the fact that we got to sleep at the posh new Citizen Hotel with a brilliant nighttime view of downtown Sacramento, don’t get the idea that “study mission” is a pseudonym for vacation.

The mornings start early, and attendees are presented with an incredible amount of information.

Interesting, yes. Relaxing? Not so much.

My sense of what is possible in Sacramento grew after this mission. Sure, it’s easy, and important, to focus on our region’s problems. And Lord knows we have them—the economy, air quality, the water shortage, to say nothing of the state Legislature. Nevertheless, our future is actually more dependent upon our advantages rather than our disadvantages.

One of the key advantages our region enjoys is individuals such as Pat Fong Kushida, Bill Mueller, Mike McKeever and Mike Wiley, who along with their organizations, are doing nationally recognized work. To have 100 Sacramentans take two days out of their lives to learn more about our region and establish better local relationships in order to encourage more effective collaboration is a feather in the cap for all of Sacramento.

Dorothy had to endure a tornado to find out how great home is. The whirlwind of activity during the internal study mission was my lesson. Indeed, there’s no place like home, and clicking your ruby shoes together uses a lot less greenhouse gas to get you there.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.