Columbia residents plan second A People's Visioning conference

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 | 5:07 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – Columbia residents dissatisfied with the city-led process that led to the creation of the vision known as Imagine Columbia's Future in 2008 plan to hold a second conference on generating ideas for Columbia's future.

Organizer Monta Welch said two main concerns unite the citizens group: skepticism about whether enhanced enterprise zones will deliver well-paying jobs and a sense of urgency that the city must phase out non-renewable energy such as coal.

Other topics on the agenda include transportation, public health, education, and food and water security, among others.

Small groups will spin off from the conference and meet regularly in the weeks after Wednesday's gathering.

The grassroots effort, dubbed A People's Visioning, held its first conference Aug. 27, and about 70 people attended. Since then, the group has generated a tentative list of ideas about how to improve the city.

"It has been a process of folks from all sides of the aisle, liberals and conservatives and everyone in between," Welsh said. "Folks in the community should know that something is being done with the visioning at the grassroots level."

Ideas the groups have brainstormed so far include fostering community gardens; protecting historic neighborhoods with overlay zoning designations, using micro-loans and local credit unions to foster neighborhood revitalization and "mom-and-pop" businesses, and finding creating ways to encourage green technologies that keep climate issues in mind.

The people's visioning group will meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Friends Room of the Columbia Public Library. The gathering will start with refreshments and live music, and discussions will begin at 7 p.m. 

For more information, contact Welch at (573) 443-4117, or visit the group's Facebook page.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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