Our Valley Our Future/Nuestro Valle Nuestro Futuro will focus on advancing the One Community Game-Changer project during 2020, the nonprofit organization announced last week.

The game-changer, one of seven such projects in the OVOF Action Plan, calls on organizations in the region to collaborate, leverage their resources, and increase their efficiencies and effectiveness.

This game-changer project is at the heart of OVOF’s mission, which is to unite the region and work toward a prosperous future. We’ve seen other gamechangers, regional in scope, show excellent progress over the past three years, and the OVOF board believes the timing is right to dedicate more resources toward the One Community Game-Changer.

Since May 2019, an OVOF One Community Working Group has been meeting, researching and drafting a white paper on “Regional Thinking, Inclusion and Collaboration.” The report, which will include a list of opportunities for policy makers, community leaders and residents to consider, is expected to be released in March or April this year.

Communications and implementation work will follow the white paper’s release.

In December, OVOF will report back to the community on progress made by the game-changer during the year. OVOF also plans to devote significant resources in 2020 to the Regional Housing Game-Changer and the Technology Hub Game-Changer, said OVOF board president Stacy Luckensmeyer.

“At its core, the One Community Game-Changer is about building this region for all of us, and tapping into everyone’s strengths,” she said. “It is a unique opportunity to bring people together to share voices and to move the valley forward collectively. This is hard but necessary work.”

The potential of regional thinking and inclusion is limitless, Luckensmeyer said.

“The game-changer also is closely connected to other game-changers in the OVOF plan — Regional Housing, Tech Hub, Early Childhood Learning, Alleviating Generational Poverty, Wenatchee Valley TREAD, and The Bridge Research and Innovation District — so there is a strong interconnectedness,” she said. “For example, it takes the entire community to fix housing. And without housing, there is no community.”

The One Community Working Group, in drafting its report, found regional thinking has long been part of North Central Washington’s DNA but that the approach is needed more than ever today given the challenges impacting local communities.

Many of those issues — such as housing, education, employment, health care, cultural integration, population growth, and infrastructure demands — know no boundaries and are part of a rapidly changing landscape. In its deliberations, the Working Group expanded the concept of regional thinking to also include inclusion and collaboration because not everything can be looked at from a regional or two-county focus. Pushing for mergers is not the intent of OVOF or the Working Group.

Steve Maher is coordinator for Our Valley Our Future, a collaborative nonprofit organization that brings together residents and organizations to improve the region’s quality of life. For more: ourvalleyourfuture.org.