Here's a great example of how members of the public can be effectively engaged in studying an issue and crafting a vision.
Here's a link to the story that ran in this newspaper: link text
Our Shoreline's Future Vision Group, a diverse group of individuals representing developers, agriculture, the conservation community among others, spent several months coming up with a proposal that would allow Douglas County and the City of East Wenatchee to get maximum benefit from the lands that the Department of Transportation hoped to surplus.
This group did not start out with a common perspective. Some individuals believed all available land should be sold off to the private sector for the highest possible value. Others wanted every inch to be preserved as is. They ended up finding common ground — compromise that reflects what the group believes is in the best interest of the community for the long term.
Finding creative ways to get people in the community engaged in issues has been a real challenge for local municipalities. The easy solution for a public agency is to hold public meetings, have the usual suspects show up, and then make a decision.
What the Shoreline Future Vision Group has done is show a great way to engage community leaders in crafting a vision. This is citizenship 2.0 and we should support the work these volunteers have done.
Furthermore, the Douglas County Commission and the East Wenatchee City Council should take seriously the depth of analysis done by this group and the sense of common vision to build a better East Wenatchee and Douglas County.
Here's what Jim Russell, a member of the committee, had to say about the project:
"Recently the Our Shoreline’s Future Vision Group submitted a vision for the Apple Capital Loop trail to the City of East Wenatchee and Douglas County that contained eight recommendations. The group worked well together and gained an overview of the trail that few people enjoy.
"The Chelan Douglas Land Trust created the group when Bob Bugert hired Eliott Scull, a retired physician and environmentalist to co-chair the committee and find a co-chair. He recruited Mike Scott, orchardist and co-owner of Martin Scott Winery. The purpose of the group was to recommend positive steps to achieve our vision and resolve confusion that apparently existed from letters exchanged between the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and the two municipalities. "The thirteen members of the committee represented a variety of interests in the trail, but our disciplined co-chairs and willing to study weekly since early January enlightened us on the issues and generated interest in acting to secure the vision. "We feel the vision addresses what Mike Scott called “the nub of it.” Our vision is practical, would minimize conflict and meet the interests of natural beauty and development from interested agencies and private investors. "Members of the committee will probably form a non-profit foundation to assist in fund raising and support forming a district trail committee to coordinate the different owners on both sides of the Columbia. The other members were: Dan Beardslee, Erlandsen & Associates; Emilie Fogle Eastmont Metropolitan Parks District; Jim Huffman, Douglas County Port Commissioner; Mary Lou Johnson, retired teacher and Board Member of the NCW Community Foundation; Hank Lewis, Cascade Property Ventures; Bonnie Orr, Ohme Gardens Board Member; Doug Pauly, Northern Fruit Company; Karen Wade, Fielding Hills Winery; and myself, retired educator and columnist for the Empire Press."
I'm curious to know what other folks in East Wenatchee think about the value of having community involvement and what they like or the concerns they have about the report. Post your replies to this blog or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org