Within this activity, the practitioner’s responsibility is to identify a short list of key interests and representatives and began building relationships and to coalesce support for the vision.
Conduct early outreach – Engaging stakeholders and partners early on helps develop interest and ownership in the process and assists in building a compelling case for a vision. Cultivating public champions among influential leaders from public, private, and non-profit spheres may also provide essential support for the vision.
Frame problem statement – Articulating the need and context for a vision sets the stage and direction of future efforts. The need for visioning often arises in cases where the desired planning focus is on long-term challenges and solutions, not present day problems. Visioning may be well suited in a context where particularly sensitive issues are best addressed through an inclusive process.
Example: Metro Council’s “Making the Greatest Place” initiative began with recommended strategies to address regional challenges.
The research report for the Vision Guide contains extensive information about reaching stakeholders and tools that support stakeholder engagement. See Linking Community Visioning and Highway Capacity Planning in the PlanWorks Library Reports.
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Engaging stakeholders and partners early helps develop interest and ownership in the process and assists in building a compelling case for a vision. Cultivating public champions among influential leaders from public, private, and nonprofit spheres also may provide essential support for the vision as it progresses. Outreach in this initial activity area is primarily focused on informative techniques to share background information regarding the project’s purpose and need. Articulating the need and context for a vision sets the stage and direction of future efforts, and stakeholder outreach helps determine potential activities, direction, and scope. Informative techniques may include providing press releases and communications materials, establishing an informational web site or blog, for the project, or even conducting initial community meetings. While a number of feedback techniques may prove useful, key techniques may include opinion surveys, community canvassing efforts, focus groups, and other in-depth early community outreach. Collaboration should be encouraged from the very start of the process and this may be an appropriate time to begin working with community leaders and forming task forces, community working groups, and developing partnerships.
Practitioners may consider these questions when assessing outreach tools:
What feedback is needed from stakeholders to begin framing the problem statement for the vision?
How do we best communicate with stakeholders? (e.g., is our audience web-accessible, or are there significant groups of hard-to-reach stakeholders?)
What does the public already know about the planned visioning effort? (i.e., are there public perception issues or specific messaging that must be managed?)