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Step Three
Vision Statement
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"The Indicators a society chooses to report to itself about itself are surprisingly powerful. They reflect collective values and inform collective decisions. A nation that keeps a watchful eye on its salmon runs or the safety of its streets makes different choices than does a nation that is only paying attention to its GNP. The idea of citizens choosing their own indicators is something new under the sun-something intensely democratic."
Donella Meadows, co-author of "Beyond the Limits"

Envisioning the future of your community can be a powerful experience. Creating a Vision Statement, based on shared values and future hopes can act as a catalyst for change and commitment. Key to this process is active community participation, capturing diverse viewpoints and wide representation of community interests and taking a longer view of the community's assets. And, don't forget the elders and the children in the community! Elders have experienced change in their long lives and children know what they like! Successful visioning gives people several opportunities to participate, either directly in workshops and town meetings or through mail-in surveys and interactive web sites. Although a community's vision should be grounded in realistic expectations, explore beyond that which is practical today...for tomorrow may bring new leadership, new opportunities and new advances in science and technology.

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Below are examples of visioning techniques, real-world vision statements from working communities and "benchmarks" or indicators that can mark the progress toward achieving your vision.

Community Involvement

Developing A Vision

Vision Statements

Indicators In creating alternative futures, considering a range of indicators is an excellent way of tracking your community's progress toward becoming a Green Community. The indicators you select will reflect the knowledge gained from developing a Community Profile ("Where Are We Now?") and a Trends Statement ("Where Are We Going?"). Click here for more information on community indicators.

Financial Tools Click here for Financial tools and alternative approaches for funding Green Communities' activities.

Developing A Vision

"Community Visioning is both a process and an outcome. Its success is most clearly visible in an improved quality of life, but it can also give individual citizens and the community as a whole a new approach to meeting challenges and solving problems." (From, Community Visioning and Strategic Planning Handbook)

Visioning Process

Creating a common vision is a several step process. Here is how it might go!
Over the course of several working sessions:

Once the additional information is collected, bring together stakeholders to:

Please note that creating a Vision Statement may take time and work to achieve broad consensus. Outreach to the community via newsletters or newspaper articles will facilitate the process.

Ideas for Public Reviews: (adapted from A Pathway to Sustainability)

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Visioning Models

I. The Chattanooga Experience

Chattanooga, TN, is one of the most well-known examples of a community addressing its environmental problems through a visioning process. Chattanooga utilized a creative, consensus building, participatory process, to formulate a shared "vision" of the future. Through this process the community set goals to achieve that vision, designed action plans, and implemented projects to achieve their goals throughout the community.

In 1983, community members were meeting to discuss ways to improve conditions in Chattanooga. Real change began in 1984, when citizens decided a new approach was needed. They realized that profound changes would only result from a public, consensus-building process in which a shared vision for the future was created. Hence, the non-profit organization, Chattanooga Venture was established. This organization would design and facilitate a strategic planning effort working with citizens and community leaders to identify a series of shared goals.

In 1984, Chattanooga Venture organized a Vision 2000, a broad-based, public forum that used heavy publicity to draw citizens from all parts of the community. At the heart of the process was the shaping of a "vision" for the future of Chattanooga, a descriptive synthesis of all the citizens' brainstorming ideas produced during the series of public meetings. The initial process lasted five months and was funded by donations from local citizens and philanthropists. The majority of support for this phase of the process, $120,000, was provided by the locally-based Lyndhurst Foundation.

Chattanooga's Visioning Process
At the heart of Chattanooga's visioning process was the creation of a shared vision for its own future. To develop this shared vision, Chattanooga Venture hired a facilitator with special expertise in establishing community visioning processes. While a consultant guided the process, a large pool of volunteers assisted: professionals and citizens adept in facilitation and organizing.

The typical visioning process is divided into three groups of meetings, with each group designed to produce a specific outcome. The first group of meetings was designed to generate ideas. The second group was aimed at organizing the ideas generated in the first set of meetings. At this point, the community had developed a series of community goals and recommendations. The third and final set of meetings allowed the community to make a commitment to the vision.

The Vision 2000 process consisted of a series of open, public "town meetings", which took place over a five-month period. They were broadly publicized by word-of-mouth and in the media. Over 1700 citizens attended, representing a diverse cross-section of the community.

II. Corvallis, Oregon: Future Focus 2010
In order to ensure that the Comprehensive Plan revisions reflected the community's hopes, values and visions, the City, in 1988, began an open process of community dialogue, "Charting a Course for Corvallis". The vision statement which originally appeared in the local newspaper occupying over eight pages, was a culmination of that process, which involved over 1,000 Corvallis citizens, from elementary school children to community leaders. Community members were invited to respond to the draft vision statement through surveys and additional public meetings. Charting a Course for Corvallis was designed in three phases.

  1. Community Dialogue
    More than 250 citizens turned out for neighbor hood meetings in April 1988 to share their ideas about what makes Corvallis a special place to live, and to identify their concerns about the future, In June, they gathered together to take a second look at those concerns and assign priorities to them. Their answers and priorities became the basis for their vision statement.

  2. Setting Our Sights on the Future
    Beginning with a presentation by nationally known futurist David Pearce Snyder, the second phase of the Charting process explored the social and economic trends likely to influence Corvallis in 2010. Several Forums, including one for school children, helped the community to focus on future scenarios. A special "Charting" task force was put to work. Their challenge was to synthesize all the public comments and information on future trends into a draft vision statement of Corvallis: 2010. This group of about 25 citizens spent hundreds of hours toward the development of the draft vision statement between October 1988 and April 1989.

  3. Charting Our Course
    This draft vision statement launched the third and final phase of the process and served as a tool to help "Chart Our Course" for the future. Once it passed public review, the vision statement would be officially adopted by the Corvallis City Council and used to update the Comprehensive Plan and related City policies.

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Using Graphics to Illustrate the Vision

(from A Guide to Community Visioning)

In general four types of graphics can be used in the visioning process. Each employ a different type of imagery and contributes to the process in a slightly different way. Combinations of these techniques can be used to visually represent your community's Vision.

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Celebrate the Vision!

A great way to reward yourselves for the hard work which resulted in a Vision Statement is to celebrate! This will also highlight the effort and inform the community at large of the process and its outcome. There are many ways to celebrate. Here are some examples:

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Vision Statements

The following examples represent Vision Statements from several locations throughout the country. They range from comprehensive statements such as the Chelalem, Oregon example, to simply stated future visions as with Salt Lake City, Utah.

Chehalem Future Focus - II
Community Vision Statement
February 4, 1995

In 2015 the Chehalem Valley is:

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Salt Lake City, Utah
Vision Statement

We envision Salt Lake City as a prominent sustainable city: the international crossroads of western America, blending family life styles, vibrant artistic and cultural resources, and a strong sense of environmental stewardship with robust economic activity to create a superb place for people to live, work, grow, invest and visit.

Envision 2020: Central Alabama's River Region Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

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