November 7, 2012

In My Opinion: Public involvement needed to fulfill vision


With these sobering statistics, analyses were developed, and task forces were formed. These groups met separately over the intervening months to report back their findings at subsequent Vision 2040 conferences. Their visions focused on characteristics of the North Country in 2040, the challenges to attaining their goals and an inventory of the assets we could employ to overcome our challenges.

They concluded these trends could be reversed if we could create action out of their visions. It was clear these citizens wanted to be part of the solution.

The Development Corp. approached the Partnership for Community Development in the summer of 2011 with the belief that the partnership would be the ideal group to provide the support and direction to achieve these visions. We changed the name to Vision2Action, developed a logo, websites and social media pages and formed an organizational structure that exists today to support the community’s vision.

We identified four primary areas that were close to positive tipping points and brought together citizens with a vested interest in those topics to a series of Vision2Action meetings.

These first four meetings held in 2012 were on Arts and Culture; Recreation; Transportation; and most recently, Education. All were well-attended. Participants agreed to assist in the effort of improving their specific area of concern.

What has been accomplished? The Strand Performing Arts Center will be open within a year. The Saranac River Trail and public access to the lake with facilities to access it have improved. Bike paths throughout the region have been developed and used extensively. We have initiated a Thrive Program to support our citizenry with a cradle-through-career program focused of community education and support by both public and private enterprise.

The Partnership for Community Development cannot take credit for these successes. The citizens who were already working on these programs did the work. The partnership merely helped to promote their efforts and leverage political and financial support.

The public, hopefully, feels less apathetic, more engaged, more involved and more effective in our community.

In January 2013, we will present our report card to the public and receive further input from citizens on these subjects and others that are in need of attention.

Our community’s success depends on your engagement. If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

— Bob Smith is chair of the Partnership for Community Development.

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