So you missed the last meeting, only to later learn that the “Downtown Committee” decided to name you to head up the city’s initiative to revitalize the downtown. Even better, a (insert any chain store here) recently announced their desire to build a new store on the main street, razing two older buildings.
˜ How do you proceed in the face of these development pressures?
˜ What are your and fellow residents’ future dreams for the downtown?
˜ Does this new development fit?
Fortunately for you, the city just finished a visioning process which engaged residents in discovering the shared, long-term hopes for their community. Your committee will use this vision to help guide development and revitalization in your downtown.
So, what is community visioning?
It is a bottom up process based on the belief that residents have a role in articulating their shared vision for their community. It informs the community decisions and the actions of community leaders and officials. Following these key principles can help insure that the visioning process will effectively discover what residents hope for the future:
Be inclusive: make sure to solicit input from a broad range of community voices, sectors and interests
Reduce barriers to participation: go to where people gather, and piggyback on top of other events and meetings to reach more and varied residents, finding shared hopes for the future
Multiply efforts: train volunteer facilitators to conduct vision sessions as a way of extending your reach and providing access to many more residents
Think long term: push residents past everyday issues/conflicts to consider what they want their community to be for future generations
Act multi-dimensional: be sure to reach out to representatives of the community’s economic, environmental and social sectors and seek common threads that link together all three sectors
Over the past 15 years, OSU Extension’s Sustainable Initiatives has helped 11 communities (including cities, counties, townships and villages) throughout Ohio discover their residents’ shared vision. This process has often been the first stage in a comprehensive community planning process. Communities have found that their planning goals, when guided by a shared community vision, are more quickly and successfully achieved.
For further information about community visioning and sustainable planning, visit the OSU Extension Community Development Sustainable Development website.
(Submitted by Myra Moss, Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Heart of Ohio EERA)