Forum focuses on vision for future

Other Midwestern cities have had successful results with same method
Sunday, April 30, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:06 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

By the mid-1980s, Chattanooga, Tenn., needed something new. Downtown was deteriorating, the economy was struggling and affordable housing was hard to find.

A program known as Vision 2000 set out to change all that by bringing residents from all walks of life together to identify goals for the whole community. Task forces and focus groups then translated those ideas into a 40-point action plan. Two decades later, Vision 2000 is credited with revitalizing Chattanooga’s central business district and bringing a renaissance to the city.

Now it’s Columbia’s turn. On May 8, the city is hosting a forum to introduce residents to communitywide visioning and find out whether they’d be interested in trying something similar here.

“Every elected official is anxious to know how the community feels,” Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman said. “What better way to do that than to get what we hope are hundreds and hundreds of people involved?”

At the forum, representatives from Chattanooga, Champaign County, Ill., and Springfield, Mo., will talk about the visioning process and its outcomes in their communities, and residents will discuss whether a community visioning process is right for Columbia. The event is being organized with the help of Gianni Longo, a consultant from American Communities Partnership and a key figure in Chattanooga’s Vision 2000.

Assistant City Manager Paula Hertwig Hopkins said visioning can give residents an opportunity to identify goals for the community and come up with an action plan to turn their ideas into reality.

“It’s about thinking about what your future is going to look like and then thinking about how you’re going to make it happen,”

Hertwig Hopkins said. “It gives a community a little more latitude in imagining, thinking more broadly, thinking outside the box.”

Hertwig Hopkins encouraged all Columbia residents to attend the event. It runs from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Kimball Ballroom at Stephens College’s Lela Raney Wood Hall, 6 N. College Ave.

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