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Visioning effort kicks off

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At a work session Monday, May 26, local leaders took the first steps to kick off a community-wide nine-month visioning project. The effort begins with three months of preparation before the first public event.

“We put a lot of effort into preparation. We don’t just jump in,” said Jamie Green of ACP, the Columbus firm recently hired to guide the village and township through the process. “The decisions made now will make a difference in the level of involvement and the substance” of the process.

Green met on Monday with Village Council and the Miami Township Trustees, co-sponsors of the process. About 20 villagers also attended the meeting.

The meeting’s purpose was for the leaders to reach consensus on how best to constitute a visioning steering committee, according to Green, who said that group plays a critical role in the project’s success. The steering committee is responsible for overseeing both the project’s process and substance, as well as serving as its public face, he said.

“The composition of the steering committee is fundamental to the credibility of the effort,” said Green, who said the group should include about 20 to 26 members.

On Monday night, Council and the Trustees agreed to ask the Visioning/Planning Task Force to present criteria for selecting a broad-based steering committee. The groups have emphasized their desire to have diverse representation on the committee so that the effort involves as many community members as possible.

Task force leader Len Kramer agreed to take on the responsibility, and the group will suggest general criteria within two weeks, after which specific individuals will be identified. The process will involve both public and targeted recruitment, along with suggestions from Council and Township.

On Monday, the leaders agreed to formalize the committee within 30 days, and to have the group begin its work by mid-July.

The selection of the steering committee is one piece of preparing for the visioning effort, according to Green, who said that during the summer, action committees will focus on awareness building, outreach, and logistics to move the process ahead. During this preparatory time, ACP will be doing research and assembling information on the “people, place and prosperity” of the village and township.

The public will take part beginning in mid-September, when a community “idea gathering” event will take place. Two other large public meetings will follow, with the second focused on themes that emerge from the initial meeting, and the third on action goals. Throughout that period ACP will also hold additional meetings with the elected officials, according to Green.

While organizers should make their best effort in attracting as many participants as possible, ACP will also find ways to reach those who don’t take part, Green said.

“Some people won’t come to the table, so we have to take the table to them,” he said.

The Village-sponsored visioning effort began a year ago, when Council charged an informal group to identify appropriate firms to help guide a visioning/planning process. Council has identified visioning as a way for villagers and township residents to move forward on complex issues, such as land use planning and economic development. Council is contributing $50,000 to fund the effort, and the Township is contributing $5,000. On Monday night, Village Manager Mark Cundiff announced that the Yellow Springs Community Foundation will add $10,000. Organizers are hoping to raise $10,000 more.

ACP, a small firm based in Columbus and New York City, was the top choice of the task force out of 27 firms that showed interest. The firm is a pioneer in the visioning field that has won national awards, including one for its work bringing together residents of lower Manhattan after 9/11. Green, one of the firm’s two principals, will lead the Yellow Springs effort.

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