Input sought on community’s futureWhat will New Richmond be like in 10 or 20 or 50 years? Community members will soon have their say on the matter.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
What will New Richmond be like in 10 or 20 or 50 years? Community members will soon have their say on the matter.
The New Richmond Area Community Foundation is working on a strategic initiative called “FutureWalk: Creating Our Community’s Path to Tomorrow” for the past few months.
The effort is viewed as a next step in the Front Porch Project, which has been encouraging civil discourse and neighborly planning for the past six years.
According to Bill Buell, one of the initiative’s organizers, the FutureWalk leadership team has been studying communities from across the U.S. that have done a good job of crafting a community vision and working to achieve their established goals.
Among the communities studied were Tupelo, Miss:; Bemidji, Minn.; Steamboat Springs, Colo.; Ellicott, Md.; and Windsor, Calif.
The goal of FutureWalk is to incorporate some of the aspects of those successful community-wide efforts into a vision for the New Richmond community (identified as the school district boundary).
“We’ve identified best practices that have been used elsewhere,” Buell said. “We don’t have to create new things; we can use what’s already been learned.”
As the second phase of the project, the FutureWalk leadership team will enlist volunteers who will help conduct a variety of listening sessions in September through December to talk to area residents and gather their thoughts about what New Richmond’s strengths are and what can be done to strengthen the community even more.
“I believe a community gets to choose its own future,” Buell said. “We just need to harvest what’s within ourselves, and we need to define where we want to go.”
Buell said all members of the surrounding community are invited to participate in the listening session process. Organizers hope to include voices from all corners of the community, so that the final vision and plan reflect the needs and desires of all people.
“We want all types of people to share their thoughts and ideas for our collective community,” Buell said. “The process is wide open. The quantity of input from people is absolutely essential for the success of this.”
Once the listening sessions are completed, the findings from those gatherings will be compiled into a comprehensive report.
From there, the foundation and FutureWalk participants will create a plan and adopt specific, collaborative action plans to move the community forward.
“That’s when the real work starts,” Buell said.
If all goes according to plan, the FutureWalk planning process will be completed by early 2013 and volunteers will be released to get to work.
The hope is that a cross section of people in the community will then be a part of making positive change happen.
“We’re in this together,” he said.
The initial FutureWalk leadership team consists of Jim Craig, Michele Hermansen, Trish Moberg, Marilyn Peplau, Darian Blattner, Jean Needham, Linda Skoglund, Gary Bakke, Jody Thone and Buell.
Watch the New Richmond News for dates and times for upcoming listening sessions.