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From RECL 3P25 Fall 2011 - Group 04 - Community Visioning
 Community Visioning
The process of community visioning involves a group of people coming together to develop ideas about what they would like their community ideally to be like. After the vision is agreed the group will then work on looking at what needs to be done to bring about that vision and put this together in an action plan. The end result of the process it to set a path for the community which will consist of beliefs of what the citizens of the community is and means to them.
Several new community problem-solving approaches began to emerge during the 1970s and 1980s in response to the growing list of local challenges. Although the approaches they used back then are less applicable to the challenges communities are facing these days, each of these approaches, if combined with the others, can provide a valuable building block when constructing a new model of community democracy. By the 1990s citizens began speaking out for more involvement in the decisions and projects that affected their lives, they were tired of people making decisions for them. They often had the power to say “no” and obstruct community actions initiated without citizen participation in the process (Okubo, 2000, pg. 1-5). This shows the process in which they went through from the beginning of the problem-solving approaches, and how they finally realized that “no challenge is too big or difficult when government, business, non-profits and citizens come together to identify shared values and to work toward common goals.” There needs to be a process, framework and resources in place to translate community visions into action.
When should your technique be used? The beauty of this process is that it may be used in various situations that involve the change of some community based system. If a community has discovered that they wish to explore new ideas for a more improved community, this process would help facilitate the proper vision of feasible and attainable ideas that would create a more economically, environmentally, and socially stable community.
Who should it be used by, who should it be used with? This process is valuable to those people within a local community that wish to have a voice within the decision making process for vision for a better community. This process would be best used by those communities that have a lack of economic stimulus, poor environmental sustainability practices, or diminished social networking. This process will bring all to most of the community members to the table to discuss the future vision of a more prosperous area of interest such as economics, environmental, social, etc (Cuthill, M., 2004, p.429). Bringing out the valuable members to the table that can influential are extremely important to build up a group of resourceful candidates for change.
When has the technique been used?
We have seen community visioning in many different communities around the world, such examples are:
In Alpine Shire, Australia, we saw the local community attempting to create a more prosperous community through the means of surveys and meetings. This group sought out to find some of the problems that were affecting the local health, environmental, and economics instabilities. This vision has been named the Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan and been planned out to be done over a 20 year span, to be completed in 2030(Alpine Shire, 2010). To see a promotional video, visit thisyoutubesite.
SCI East North
Another example of community visioning in action was in the SCI East North community organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This community group met together as a neighborhood to determine what sort of ideas and visions they had for their local area. In 2009, this group held meetings and session, and came up with many different ideas to improve the health, well being and economic stimulus within the region. They have created many different gardening projects around the park systems in the community art and digital photography competitions, and even a local community watch and security program. Through this process they were able to find the local issues and address them with the resources they had, and they have found success and future developments for the future (SCI East North, 2009). To visit their community organization’s website and more information about them, visit here. To see their community visioning workshops on youtube, clickhere.
In January 2011, Ketchum Community Development Corporation (2011)sponsored a local community visioning project that involved local government officials, health practitioners, tourism groups, educational representatives, and people from the arts community to meet together to create a vision of the sort of community they would like to see. This type of community visioning is a slightly different approach where the community development group has identified some key contributors in the community, and used them to identify some ideas. These ideas will then be presented to the local community meeting of local residents to determine what sorts of ideas are most important and to add to the list. This would then lead another large meeting where all the contributors of this vision would create the vision statement for the community to create a committed group statement. To see the groups first community visioning workshop, visit here.
Steps in the Community Visioning process can include 10 steps. All 10 steps are not necessarily needed to facilitate the community visioning process. The steps are a guiding structure, and can be altered depending on community needs. The following steps identify a process where a group forms to examine their resources, analyze their communities and be apart of a collective vision that their community will strive to be.
Steering Committee is formed and begins planning for the first community workshop. The steering committee is a group of citizens within a community who will be facilitating and implementing the entire process. The steering committee does not take part in the actual vision statement process but influence the participants by extracting and provoking quality ideas. Things to take into consideration are locations of meetings/workshops to conduct process. These could take place within a casual setting like a living room or a more formal setting such as a board room of conference room.(New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 2011).
First Community Workshop
Steering Committee provides an overview of the community visioning process and the desired outcomes. The The Steering Committer also asks the participants to identify key issues affecting their community. In this stage, you would introduce your intentions with your participants, explain what will be needed of them in terms of commitment and goals. (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 2011).
During the first workshop, the Steering Committee tallies results, develops taskforce groups and initiates plans for the second workshop. The task forces are groups selected to identify resources in the community as well as needs that the community must address. These groups will go out into their communities and take notes, and prepare findings to present to the participants in the community visioning process. (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 2011).
Second Community Workshop
Steering Committee reviews activities to date and breaks participants into small taskforces, each taskforce will focus on a specific issue outlined by the other task force groups within the community and examine in detail. Taskforces will complete a SWOT analysis on each of the outlined community issues. A SWOT analysis is a procedure where you identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your community. By completing a SWOT analysis, this will provide you with the tools to complete the vision statement steps (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 2011).
Keeping on Track
Steering Committee ensures that taskforces are meeting regularly and begins to plan for the third community workshop (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 2011).
Third Community Workshop
Taskforces report their major findings to the community. Participants are then asked to give their input into what they would like to see their community look like in the future. This step can include group discussions or a power point presentation. The participants involved in the vision statement process should be made fully aware of what the desired community needs are and the resources available to them to create a vision that is attainable (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 2011).
Drafting the Visioning Statement
Steering Committee ensures that each of the task forces are meeting regularly and drafts of a tentative vision statement are being created (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 2011). The vision statement can be a few sentences or a paragraph, this will depend highly on your values and beliefs of your community. The vision statement should be a reflection of the communities beliefs and values in relation to the SWOT analysis information determined by the task forces of your community.
Fourth Community Workshop/ Celebration
Public unveiling of vision statement and celebration of the community (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 2011). This is the stage that communities could potentially implement as they want to celebrate and advocate in some way their new vision or direction that community has set course on. Examples of celebrating would be a town festival or a community-based event where citizens could be made aware of this vision.
Marketing and Making the Vision a Reality
Steering Committee and the taskforces present their vision statement to community groups, local governments, and other organizations for their formal approval of their vision statement. Steering Committees and taskforces then request that these groups use the vision statement when making decisions that will directly affect the community (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 2011).
Working with various community organizations and governments, the Steering Committee then develops an action plan by implementing the recommendations outlined by the taskforces as well as other elements of the vision statement (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 2011).
Annual Progress Report
The Steering Committee hosts a meeting that reviews the activities and accomplishments to date and what activities will be implemented the following year (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 2011). This stage really all depends on your Steering Committee and your community. This process can happen in intervals of 6 months to one year to 5 year periods. It is important to evaluate your vision statement in relation to your community to see if the community is where you envisioned it to be. Annual Progress Reports are key evaluations of a communities progress in terms of community visioning. The world is ever changing and the way we perceive the world is changing. Our values and beliefs are developing and your community needs to identify these changes.
 Technique Strengths
This technique is useful because it helps ensure that people are involved in community planning, and community visioning “encourages ownership and is a positive approach to talking about change” (Communities Scotland, 2007). It also gives an opportunity for the community and service providers to work together on developing agreed, shared priorities and actions. Within a community having a vision is a useful, a vision helps to focus the hopes and aspirations and to frame the project and set priorities within the community. The vision is where the people on the committee want to see their community in the future, “The vision statement must reflect the commonly held values of the community and guide stakeholders for the remainder of the visioning process” (Okubo, 2007, pg. 9-10). In relation to our Community Visioning practice sessions and workshops, it is apparent that through research evidence and practical application that community visioning strength's are being able to bring together members of a community for a common purpose to map our the future of their community and what they stand for/believe in.
 Technique Limitations
Despite Community Visioning having many great aspects to it, like every process that involves working towards a better community there are some draw backs. The article written for the Community Programing Process used in the Gold Coast of Australia concluded many of the same limitations that we found in our practice session along with others.
• It takes 6-12 months to complete the process and by this time people may lose interest or are not as committed as they once where
• Those that can not make the meetings may feel like they have missed out and are not part of the process
• Community members may see it as too big of a commitment if they aren’t getting paid
• There may be a large number of visions or opinions, making time commitment longer
• The visions in which the task force come up with may not be attainable in the allotted time
Government or steering committee powers
• Active citizens in the Visioning Process may have little say after the Process has finished and plans are to be implemented
• Stake holders can be part of a steering community and push their agenda
• Community’s may have a lack of trust in the government and are unwilling to invest their time in the Process
Resist for change
• Not all community members will be interested in changing their community
• This process and the changes from it may create a culture shift that some citizens won’t want
• Youth and seniors may be left out of the process and therefore the vision may not be inclusive of the whole community.
Other practices such as the dot-moracy, coming to a consensus and problem tree look at different aspects in bettering a community and coming up with a plan of action. These techniques are shorter in deration and allow for the process to move at a faster pace. The Golden Coast Community Process explains just how long it takes to complete the process and how this can be a major downfall.
 Tips for Successful Implementation
During the community visioning process, there are a variety of ideas, concerns, and needs discussed for the particular community. With so much content being discussed, dot-mocracy can be a useful method to implement the community visioning process. There will be positive and negative feedback that members of the community feel about the desired ideas.Another common way to implement community visioning can be through discussion during organized community meetings. Groups can be divided depending on how big the attendance is at the meetings. Each group will discuss their ideas and identify what they want to see happen in the future within their community.
Additional Tips Include:
• Remember to include everyone in the community. Everyone should be given an equal opportunity to say their opinion about how they see their community within 5-20 years.
• Each member of the community must be proud of the final community vision statement.
• Make sure the community vision is realistic and can be achievable.
• A consensus must be achieved.
• “The general rule is –there will be no action without an implementer.” (Okubo, 2000, p.42)
• Indicate that the future is the key concept.
• Respect everyone’s ideas. Each idea is unique.
- Alpine Shire.(2010). Community wellbeing. Retrieved on November 20th/2011 from http://www.alpineshire.vic.gov.au
- Communities Scotland (2007). The Scottish Government. Community Engagement Guide to Techniques. Retrieved from:
- Cuthill, M. (2001). developing local government policy and processes for community
consultation and participation. Urban Policy and Research, 19, 2, p. 183-202
- Cuthill, M. (2004). Community Visioning: Facilitating Informed Citizen Participation in Local Area Planning on the Gold Coast. Urban Policy and Research, 22, 4, p. 427-445.
- Ketchum Community Development Corporation.(2011). Creating a Common Vision for a Vibrant Sustainable Community. Retrieved November 20th/2011 from http://www.ketchumcdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/VVSC-REPORT.pdf
- New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (2011). How to conduct a community visioning process. Retrieved from: www.nh.gov/oep/resourcelibrary/.../m/.../visioningprocess.pdf
- Okubo, D. (2000). The Community Visioning and Strategic Planning Handbook. National Civic League. retrieved from: http://www.cpn.org/tools/manuals/community/pdfs/VSPHandbook.pdf pg 1-54
- SCI East North.(2011). Eastern North Residents agree on a Community Vision. Retrieved on November 20th/2011 from http://www.sciphilly.org/userfiles/file/Newsletter%20-%20Visioning.pdf
 External Links
Include web addresses of any external sites that your group found particularly useful and that can give readers more information on the topic.
- Mike Taylor
- Alex Harrison
- Melissa Debruin
- Kaela Campbell
- Whitney Moore
- Jeff G