Who we are and want to be: Worthington’s Community Visioning Process
As you may be aware, the city of Worthington is getting ready to embark on a “community visioning process” (http://www.worthington.org/1902/Community-Visioning). This process is likely to guide and shape the course of our city for many years to come, with far-reaching effect. I urge all Worthingtonians to take this project seriously and to participate as fully as time and energy permit. This is both an opportunity and a responsibility if you believe in translating the wisdom of the people in to public policy.
It has been many years (2005) since the land-use Comprehensive Plan was fully updated (http://www.worthington.org/DocumentCenter/View/155/Comprehensive-Plan?bidId=), and nearly a decade (2010) since the 360º effort was undertaken in conjunction with our libraries and schools (http://www.worthington.org/DocumentCenter/View/5468/Project-Report-Worthington-360?bidId=). Much has happened, both within and from without our city, since these documents were drafted. And as with an individual life, there are times in the life of a city when focused reflection on identity and purpose are called for. This is such a time in Worthington.
One of the most important developments in recent years has been the renewed commitment by city leadership to engage, listen to, and focus specifically upon the residents of Worthington—those who have sunk their roots here—when considering policy and development decision. As I see it, the upcoming visioning process is an outgrowth of this heightened desire by City Council to ground its policy decisions on a clear understanding of informed public sentiment. This may sound basic, but even those committed to this governing principle may fairly disagree as to what public opinion is on any issue, large or small. All of us tend to get a bit insular in who we talk to about public affairs and what we read to form our philosophies, and so our perception of what “the public” or “the residents” really want and need is prone to self-confirming distortion. This can be a pervasive and serious problem for those in public service.
So the impending Community Visioning Process aims at providing some clarity, for all of us, but particularly for those entrusted to lead our city, about what Worthington residents really think, believe, and want regarding their city and its many neighborhoods. I would expect that at the heart of the process, upfront, there will be questions about identity and character, such as, “Who are we, distinctly, uniquely, and how does this shape what we want our city to be? What do we value, and to what, or to whom, are we committed? What do we wish to preserve, enhance, change, let go of? How best to be faithful to our past while embracing the future?” And so on.
To provide valid and trustworthy information about our community’s views, the visioning process aims at a broad and deep engagement with the public—more so than ever before—through many varied outreach mechanisms. At the heart of the process will be a thirteen member Visioning Committee (https://worthington.org/1903/Committee-Selection-Process) comprised of Worthington residents (application, due 4/11, is available here online: https://worthington.org/FormCenter/Boards-Commissions-Applications-4/Community-Visioning-Committee-72). The committee, with the help of a professional facilitator, and in consultation with council, will design and execute the community engagement process. When completed, the committee will then prepare an analytical report for presentation to city council and staff, and of course the public at large. This resulting document will certainly inform future deliberations and decisions that will impact us all, now and for decades to come.
I therefore urge all Worthingtonians to engage, promote, and participate in this process with enthusiasm. The more voices, the broader the ideas, the richer the imagination, the better our vision.