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How Do We Get There?

Where Are We Now? | Where Are We Going? | Where Do We Want to Be? | How Do We Get There? | Let's Go!

Step Four
Sustainable Action Plans
Natural path through woods

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed it's the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead

You have worked hard to reach this point. The community has assessed its strengths and weakness in Step 1, illustrated a probable scenario in Step 2, and through consensus, created a Vision Statement in Step 3. Now you are ready for action. Action plans translate the visions of the future into action oriented items.

While there is no "cookbook" approach to action planning, an action plan should provide goals and objectives, identify issues and concerns, list recommended actions, and assign responsibility for the work to be done. Timeframes may be set for priority actions. The action plan may also include estimated financial costs and resources needed for implementation.

While some communities may develop one comprehensive action plan, other communities may choose to develop a number of action plans, for instance, plans for historic preservation, pollution prevention and recycling, and the local economy. Each action plan will be part of the larger strategy for the community. Sample action plans for key sustainability issues are found in the Tools section.

The City of Gresham, Oregon in suburban Portland has developed an action planning document as part of their "Envision Gresham Project." Their plans are plainly stated and include items such as: recommended action items; responsibility; time line; resources; obstacles; and stakeholders. Combined, their action items describe a clear direction for moving from vision to implementation.

While developing good action plans is important, it is not enough. Action plans turn visions into reality only through implementation. The adage of good plans "gathering dust" on the bookshelf is a constant source of frustration for planners, government officials and citizens striving for better communities. We address implementing plans in the next and last Step, Let's Go !

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