Village Life News Archives

Communities 'Vision' Future Together

Hundreds of communities around the country have used "visioning" techniques to help plan their futures:

In Chattanooga, Tenn., citizens set 34 goals for themselves after a 20-week visioning process in 1984. By 1993 they had achieved most of those goals -- smog was defeated, crime was down, jobs and low-income housing were on the rise, and an innovative new aquarium was attracting national attention. Since then, they have set new goals, and Chattanooga Venture --the group charged with involving citizens -- has become a multiracial, multiclass organization with input into the city's major planning decisions.

In Missoula, Mont., runaway growth prompted Mayor Dan Kemmis to bring together a diverse group to create shared visions about how the future might unfold. It has developed new approaches to land use planning. One residential group succeeded in planting grass and flowers between sidewalks and streets to create a sense of neighborhood and reduce the speed of traffic. St. Patrick Hospital officials now consult with their neighbors, not just planning officials, about major building projects.

In Sitka, Alaska, residents are moving beyond their traditional dependence on timber to develop a more diverse and environmentally sound economy. After envisioning their future through a series of town hall meetings, they drafted the town's first citizens' initiative to change local forest management and enhance the local economy. It is scheduled to appear on the ballot this fall.

Several organizations have developed techniques to help communities envision their futures. In addition to emphasizing the connection between present realities and long-range goals, they stress the importance of a constituency that will stay involved through the often lengthy process.

Among these organizations are the Center for Consensual Democracy in Woolwich, Maine; Community Design Exchange in Seattle, Wash.; Maverick Institute in Tucson, Ariz.; and the National Civic League in Denver, Colo.Copyright

©1997 American News Service

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