Vision Showcase aims to connect people with projects

Thursday, September 4, 2008 | 10:42 p.m. CDT; updated 11:03 a.m. CDT, Friday, September 5, 2008
Simon Wanyonyi, 9, looks at Columbia police Sgt. Lloyd Simons' badge as he makes his way around the Vision Showcase on Thursday. The groups present at the showcase shared their goals for the future development of Columbia.

COLUMBIA — Brad McConnell has been in on the City of Columbia's visioning process from the beginning. He works in renovation, remodeling and energy efficiency, but he hadn't found his niche until he connected with Homer Page, chairman of a new affordable housing group at Thursday night's Vision Showcase at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts.

Page, chairman of the Community Housing Options board of directors, gave a presentation about the 6-month-old nonprofit organization, which is searching for a site to develop affordable housing.

Networking, connecting people to one another and community projects were the goals of the showcase. It also strove to show that the ideas forColumbia's future, as defined in Imagine Columbia's Future visioning report, are moving forward, said Sarah Read, visioning implementation consultant.

"There is a lot of work to be done, so we are connecting people," she said.

The showcase consisted of three main components: live music, community and city organization information tables and a brainstorming session. The event was held in conjunction with the Twilight Festival.

The purpose of the music was to help reach out to people that aren't involved, a target audience of the night, Read said. But the theater was nearly empty.

Instead, most participants were staffing or visiting different tables.

Stephanie Browning, director of the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, said it was good to have everyone in one location, so they could make connections. Browning told attendees about how the health department is following Columbia's goals.

Staffing the Columbia Parents for Public Schools table, Tracy Holmquest, a member of the organization's board of directors, said everyone had the same goal at the showcase.

"Everyone is here for the same reason ... awareness is vision," Holmquest said.

Nicholas Peckham, an architect who worked on the Grant Elementary School "eco schoolhouse" said he wanted to bring about social and environmental justice. He said everything done for the children "counts for double" since they are the future.

Residents came with ideas for the future of Columbia. Participant Prairie Langille discussed changing civic activities, and, once the participants split into two groups, he suggested creating a welcome booth downtown where volunteers could connect with others. His group also suggested a community calendar.

At the end of the conversations, he said he wanted to create "grass roots from grass roots."

These ideas, which date to May 2006 when the visioning process began, are dynamic and provide a vision for the next 20 years, said visioning co-chair Dianne Drainer.

"The goal is to keep the vision energized because it, as I stated, is looking at how we have a vision for Columbia over the next 20 years," Drainer said. "This allows engagement of citizens."


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